Thursday, 9 February 2012

Finding a preschool or nursery-where's the manual for that?

I have been thinking about getting Alex on waiting lists for local preschools or nurseries- it's something I have thought about on and off but not ever really done anything about it apart from the odd bit browsing. But now I know why I always seem to hit a brick wall when getting his name down on a list...

I thought it would be nice and simple to do, I assumed there would be a generic website which explained it all clearly, I thought our local council website would have a list of the childcare options and providers in the area, I thought that the providers' websites would have clear information on how to enrol, when to enrol, easily found contact details etc. However I have found this is not the case.

1. One website doesn't seem to be very well updated apart from one page on there, but I have had good recommendations from a good few people about the preschool. They charge £5 just for the administration form to be handed in which to be honest I thought was a off putting as I'm not sure if this is the 'right' place, it's a 20/25 minute walk and the outdoor area isn't very big and quite frankly I don't have £5 to throw away if he doesn't get a place or we decide not to enrol him there after all.

2. The nearest school that has a nursery website is literally crammed with info, but not the info you need (mainly useful if you are already at the school) there are about 30 single tabs to click on down the side, and the website is just too busy all over the page you can't focus or read the information clearly anyway. But I walk past this nursery on the way to netball practise and their outdoor area is fantastic-I wouldn't mind a play in there myself! It's a new school and only a 10 minute (max) walk there. Downside- it's on the same campus as the secondary school as well as the normal primary school, and it's in close proximity to the secondary school students which puts me off a bit. They also don't have an online form, and no direct contact to the nursery just the general school email.

3. Another local primary school about a 20 minute walk away has a nursery attached, their website is great and clear, they have an online from to register, however I read at the bottom of the form that they don't take the child until the September after their 3rd birthday-that means Alex would be nearly 4 when he'd start.

4. The closest school and the one Alex is likely to go to doesn't have a nursery/preschool so where ever he goes he won't go with people he knows when he gets to school age (not a massive problem, just wish they had thought about making the school large enough to accommodate one seeing as it's a new build area full of young families)!

So help me because I am seriously struggling...

I can't afford Alex to go until he gets the free sessions, which if I am right is the term after he is 3. So do kids have a year at preschool and then a year at nursery? Can they have 2 years at nursery just not at one of my options?

Alex is 3 in November and after looking at how few preschools/nurseries there are in our area compared to the number of children I am getting quite apprehensive as to what to do for the best, or at all. I don't want to make the wrong decision or move Alex about too much because I want him to have the best, but don't know what that is.

I just don't get how you are supposed to know what to do, when to apply, how to apply when actually no one gives you any information on deadlines on it-they don't teach you this in the NCT classes do they?!

P.S any help gratefully received! My partner had a go at me because I hadn't done anything about it- I sort of think it's a joint decision though!


  1. Good luck with figuring it all out, I can't help I'm afraid as I'm not in the UK but this is something that really worries me. I have even less idea what to do as when I go to my local schools to try and find out all the staff speak Greek at me and I never really know whats going on. Like you though I imagined it would be really easy in the UK and had been feeling a bit homesick about it all lately.

    1. Oh gosh that must be even more scary! It's a nightmare as I really don't want to make a bad decision! Hope you don't feel homesick too much longer

  2. It's so stressful isn't it! I'm putting off the fact that I need to sort out nurseries for my littlest one, she is on the waiting list for the one that my oldest goes to but they are about to move sites to the other side of town so it won't be as convenient for us...I'm burying my head in the sand at the moment!

    It might be worth looking for a pre-school attached to the primary school that you are hoping for him to attend, but we haven't done that as we've moved into a different area and wanted to keep him at the same nursery. I think that they are so little that as long as you don't change them about too much they will adapt. Best of luck!

    1. It's so hard isn't it. I keep telling myself 'oh it's ages away' and then realising how quickly the weeks roll into months!

      Yeah sort of thinking the same, such a shame the closest school doesn't have one!

      All the luck to you too!

  3. Hi Danielle!

    I'm luckily on number 5 (she's just started 2 lovely pre-school/playgroup)so I don't feel the pressure of first time Mums. I also run an Out of School Club.

    If you look on the OFSTED websites for the places you are interested in you should be able to look at their reports, they should also welcome visitors for a look around come play sessions which is a good time to tell how well you will get on with staff and how comfortable Alex feels in the he happy to go off and explore on his own or does he hold back? Have a chat with some of the children... it might sound barmy but if you ask a 3 year old if they are enjoying their play they WILL give you a VERY honest answer!! You could also hang around outside at the end of a session and ask people if they are satisfied with the offer from that particular setting, strangers are more likely to be honest than friends can sometimes be!

    Have you got a Mumsnet in your area or a facebook page for your town where you could post a question asking...Does anyone know of a good nursery within 20 mins walk of.....? Then look at the most popular responses and 'likes'.

    Hope that wishes... Nora xx

    1. Thanks for your very helpful comment! Very true about what 3 years olds say-always very honest! I think there may be a mumsnet for the area so may have a good look at that too.
      Thanks very much! xx


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