You can also find out more about the provider by viewing their most recent inspection report.
Some ELC providers might be in high demand! So, you should always check with them about enrolling your child, as you might need to put your wee one’s name on a waiting list. If you are applying for your child’s funded hours, then different local authorities have different application processes and timings and you might have to apply quite far in advance, so best to check with them. You can find contact details here:
If you’re not sure what’s available in your area, you can check out the Care Inspectorate to find a list of providers near you.
We’ve put together a list of questions that have helped other parents when making their decision, and that might be helpful to ask on a visit.
Ensuring it’s a safe environment
A big priority for parents is safety and it’s important you feel confident that your child is completely safe and secure when they’re spending time apart from you. The Care Inspectorate wouldn’t allow a setting to operate if the environment wasn’t safe, but for peace of mind, you may want to find out the following:
- Do they have a secure entry system?
- How will they ensure that my child is kept safe, and that no-one can collect them without my permission?
- If travelling, especially with a childminder, what transport will they use and would I need to provide my own car seat?
What and how they’ll learn
It’s important to know what day to day activities your wee one will be doing and how they will help them to develop, so you might want to find out:
- What does an average day look like? What will my child do when they come here?
- How does the setting make sure that children are able to learn through play? How much of the time do they get to choose activities for themselves? Including being able to access the outdoors themselves?
- How does the setting make sure the activities will reflect my child’s interests?
Socialising with other kids
Who your child spends time with and makes friends with is a big part of their learning, so you might want to know:
- What opportunities will my child have to play with and learn from children of different ages?
- Will my child spend time with the same children each day to allow them to make friends?
- Will they be able to spend time with a sibling who’s in the same setting?
Any meals that the setting provides should be nutritionally balanced, meeting the guidance provided in Setting the Table.
You’ll probably still want to know a bit more about the type of foods and snacks that will be served to your child to make sure it’s healthy and will give them energy through the day, so you might want to ask:
- Do they provide meals and snacks?
- What does a typical week’s menu look like?
- My child has an allergy/intolerance or a dietary preference. Do they offer alternative meals and snacks to meet their needs?
Knowing more about the staff
It’s important to know that your child is being well cared for by qualified people. Anyone working with children must hold a certificate of disclosure to work with children, but some other questions to consider are:
- What are the adult/child ratios in the room where my child will be?
- How do they make sure that children are able to form strong bonds with these adults?
- What relevant training and qualifications do the staff have?
- What sort of first aid training do staff have? Are they trained in paediatric first aid? Has the setting achieved Millie’s Mark?
- How do they keep me informed of the progress that my child is making with his/her learning and development?
- Who do I talk to if I have concerns or questions about my child’s development and/or the quality of care they receive?
- How will the setting support me, as parent/carer, to help my child's learning and development – both at home and in the setting?
More practical questions
You might want to ask some more practical questions about everything from sickness arrangements to help that’s available with potty-training. Some of these could include:
- What are their operating hours, and what are the holiday and sickness arrangements?
- I would like my child to go to nursery for part of the day but spend the rest of the day with a childminder; would this be possible?
- Do they offer funded places for 2 year olds and for 3 and 4 year olds?
Things you might want to ask a childminder
If you’re thinking about using a childminder, there are some additional things you might want to consider such as:
- How many other children do they look after? What ages are they and when are they there?
- Do they take the children to other organised sessions, e.g. playgroups and give them opportunities to be outdoors?
- As a childminder are they a member of any of the childminder organisations?
- What happens if the childminder is ill?