Blog

Settling In Sessions at Nursery - What to Expect

As new parents, part of your learning curve is going to include new terminology, especially when considering a nursery place for your child. One of the main phrases you are going to come across is "settling in sessions".

3 bears

Settling in sessions generally apply to day nurseries rather than sessional care options, and is the name given to the hours that you attend with the objective of building up your child's familiarity with their new surroundings in the weeks prior to their start date.

The good news is that generally nurseries will offer these free as part of their package. You will probably be offered at least a couple of them; at Baby Room we provide a minimum of 4 and they are taken between 9am-12pm, with the aim of building up your length of stay over the 12 noon barrier as your baby gets used to being at nursery for longer.

We also offer more tailored packages for mums returning to work for 4 or 5 days over the 3 or 4 weeks prior to start date.

What Should I Bring?

For the first session you will probably be asked to bring a spare change of clothes, any comforter that a child uses, such as a favourite rabbit (soft toy here - not a real one!) and, if your child is still a baby, a box of their milk powder or breast milk (ready pumped).

Please also bring any nappy rash creams or the like that are specific to your little one – we want to make sure we’re using all the items you would at home.

If they are older, a toothbrush and toothpaste may be requested. Day nurseries usually provide all else - nappies, snacks, sippy cups and anything else they are going to need in their busy new life.

The Time Has Come

Having got all that ready and counted down the days to D-day; negotiating the inevitable last minute nappy change, you’ve finally got yourself out of the house and there on time!

But what do you find greets you when you get there?

Sadly, it’s a mountain of paperwork to complete; all the forms that Ofsted require or we think we need you to fill in before you hand your most precious little person over to us. At Baby Room, your baby will most likely play around you in the nursery room whilst you answer questions with your key worker.

The idea is to get all the legal stuff out of the way and to capture and complete any no-no's for your child – allergies, medical history, permission to take photographs and the like. If your child is under 2 years of age, you will be asked about their current daily routine.

At the end of this first session, you may be asked to leave your child with us for a short while, but this may be saved for next time, depending on time and how things are going during the session.

The Following Sessions

In the second session, the staff will ask you more about you and your child and will talk to you more about how they thought your child had fared during their first session.

They will likely go through your child's daily routine again with you and ask any questions that they have thought of after having had time to consider it. This time you can be sure that you will spend some time away from your child.

As the sessions continue, your key worker will inform you on how your child has coped with various parts of the nursery day - meals, nappy changes, getting to sleep and so on.

At Baby Room, we have a daily communications book that we write down such things as meals, drinks, toileting and activities so that you can refer to it when you get home.

By the third or fourth session, other staff in the room will have started to interact with your child, too, so they also will start to learn more about them!

And thus it goes on! At Baby Room, we believe that you should never feel in a rush to settle your child in and you are always welcome to pop back to see them.

We recently have been offering half day sessions instead of settling in ones for babies aged 7 months and so far this has been working nicely! The idea is that the settling period does not have to be so long if your baby has been attending since before separation anxiety can affect them, which is at around 8-10 months. You can always contact me using the details below to ask more about our tailored settling sessions

- Alison .

Alison is the founder of a London-based Nanny Agency and established four children's nurseries in London's Nappy Valley during the past 10 years.

To find out how you can benefit from the superb services that our nannies in London provide or to speak to a member of our friendly team about our local nurseries, please do not hesitate to get in touch by calling the Nanny Agency in London on 020 7228 2811 or by e-mailing info@babyroom.co.uk and we will be more than happy to help you with your enquiries. Keep up to date with Baby Room by following us on our Nanny Agency Facebook and Twitter pages, as well as our Nursery Facebook and Twitter pages.  

Posted in Latest News | Leave a comment

Have We Solved the Childcare “Problem”?

Last Wednesday, our Balham nursery appeared on Channel 4 evening news to contribute to the debate about the Government's plans to increase free childcare from 15 hours to 30. While I was on the programme, I was asked to comment about profitability in our industry – to which I said that I had got into childcare to "sort the problem" rather than for the profit.

Baby Room

When I got home I asked Lily (who was the first Baby Room baby, but is now 12) how she thought it went; she said “good”, but she didn’t like being referred to as a "problem" that I needed to fix. She was joking – although I did feel compelled to I check again with her the next night that it was just meant as a funny comment! Anyway, as there wasn’t time to explain on the telly, I thought I'd answer what the “problem” I was referring to was. The Problem The problem to solve was to provide quality childcare that suited working mums (and others who might want that childcare too) that allowed staff to be happy; I’d seen some very grim ones 10 years ago at other nurseries I’d visited. And finally, I believe that we have achieved it and the solution to that "problem" can be seen in the happy children and atmosphere that Baby Room creates. We also achieved the following:
  1. – At Baby Room you can choose whether you’d prefer a nanny or a nursery – and we will discuss the merits of each with you.
  2. – I wanted our nurseries to be small – under 50 places each. We have 4 of them close to public transport – exactly where mums need them.
  3. – We now provide tailored settling in; matched to the anticipation of your child’s needs with free sessions from us often being complimented by purchasing half days
  4. – With Baby Room you pay a deposit but can get it back, for an admin fee. This is helpful if you decide later at your back to work chat that you don’t want to return to work – or your employer makes that decision for you.
  5. – We are flexible with changes in booking pattern and start date.
  6. – You can (again for an admin fee) swap your holidays so that you don’t lose their value.
  7. – You can swap your registered days for others if your employer wants you to come to work on a Wednesday rather than a Friday one week, for example.
  8. – You can swap sick days too and on the day of the sickness as long as it’s before 10am, so you don’t lose the value of those.
  9. – A responsive email address at info@babyroom.co.uk to process all these changes for you quickly and efficiently during the work day rather than at busy drop off and pick up times.
These services affect cost and the ability to do them comes at a price too, but we to run our nurseries at 85% of their full capacity and that’s what gives us the flexibility to do the above. It also affects cost but amazingly we are still comparable with many of the larger chains who have much more economy of scale to bring to their business model. Quality Childcare? So there’s the unique selling point, but what about quality childcare, what does that look like?
  1. – Lots of happy staff! Okay – everyone has a bad day every now and then, but generally our staff group is invested in success and happy. They are lovely – thank you!
  2. – Degree qualified members of staff.
  3. – Qualified Teachers.
  4. – Caring nursery managers.
  5. – Appropriate resources.
  6. – Happy children!
  7. – Someone operationally responsible, grown up and professional enough to deal with challenges when they arise.
At Baby Room, we also find that our parents have shared values and that this helps us to share care and learning around these; they also understand when sometimes our paintwork looks a bit tired or we awkwardly communicate something to them. It's the staff that are precious. So, problem solved, but it comes at a cost. So our next job is to widen awareness of our service and try to get costs down by providing more of it – thus this blog and the telly! Like us on the nursery Facebook page - link below - to help us to spread the word about quality childcare. Alison 😊 Alison is the founder of a London-based Nanny Agency and established four children's nurseries in London's Nappy Valley during the past 10 years. To find out how you can benefit from the superb services that our nannies in London provide or to speak to a member of our friendly team about our local nurseries, please do not hesitate to get in touch by calling the Nanny Agency in London on 020 7228 2811 or by e-mailing info@babyroom.co.uk and we will be more than happy to help you with your enquiries. Keep up to date with Baby Room by following us on our Nanny Agency Facebook and Twitter pages. As well as our Nursery Facebook and Twitter pages.
Posted in Latest News | Leave a comment

FREE 3 and 4 Year Old Funding - Dispelling the Myths

As the founder of a London-based Nanny Agency, and having set up four children's nurseries in London's Nappy Valley during the past 10 years, I’ve often been asked about the Government funding for 3 and 4 year old children. FullSizeRender1 This is a subject around which there is much discussion and sometimes confusion, so I just thought I'd explain how we understand it at Baby Room. The Government’s Expectations Central Government sets out the expectations for local authorities to provide childcare services around certain criteria such as age and wealth.  This is provided either by publicly funded nurseries attached to schools, or via funding given to private, charitable or independent nurseries. At the moment there is some provision for all 3 and 4 year olds in the UK to have "free nursery places".  There is also a similar scheme for 2 year olds but only if you meet certain criteria, such as parents receiving child tax credit allowance. There are also additional schemes that provide funding such as Care to Learn, and further education establishments sometimes get funding, but these schemes are generally applicable to younger mums. So, back to the 3 and 4 year old funding that we all get. First, a child becomes eligible from the term that begins after they turn 3. This means that some children will receive the funding for one year or 3 terms and others for 5 terms, depending on where their birthday falls within the year. This is often the source of initial disappointment when your child's birthday is on the 2nd of April they will not be eligible until the next term starts in September. However all parents love that the Government helps in this way. Each local authority calculates what it costs to provide this "free" care. In Wandsworth I believe that they do this by looking at the cost to provide nursery care at a state school. They then make upward adjustments to reflect additional private sector costs, such as rent and insurance, which schools don't pay. The increased cost to the independent providers, derived from the loss of any economy of scale that a 1,000 pupil school would have from a 50 place nursery, is not taken into account. What can be said is that the "free" amount arrived at is, in Wandsworth, £4 per hour and Lambeth £4.06, so for Wandsworth that equates to £2,280 per year for 3 and 4 year olds. But hold on. It's about to get tricky. As schools are only open 38 weeks of the year, the 15 hours free becomes 15 hours x 38 weeks, or 570 hours per annum. Each private nursery then has a set number of opening weeks - ours is 50.8. I know it should be 51 but somehow the one week closed has 2 weekends and so 50.8 it is. So 570 divided by 50.8 means you actually get 11.22047 hours per week rather than 15. You will therefore receive £190 per month for 12 months to get to your £2,280. Or rather £4 (the rate) x 11.22047 (the hours) x 50.08 (the weeks). Ok so far? So then if your child turns 3 after the 1st September, the calculation is slightly different. As the term lengths are different, the allocation adjusts - with 210 hours being allocated to Autumn term, 180 to the Spring term and the remaining 180 to Summer term. So for those that become eligible in Spring and Summer terms, you will receive £180 pcm. That is £180 + £180/570 = 0.63157895 x £2,280 = £1,440 / 8 (months paid Jan- Aug) = £180. The £4 therefore does not cover the advertised fees of many nurseries. At Baby Room our fees vary per day, but being open 11 hours a day means that the funding that once stretched from 38 to 51 weeks actually covers about a quarter of this on any given day. As I said we all love that the Government provide this funding and desperately want it to continue and increase if possible. It might be helpful if it’s a bit easier to explain though so maybe just tell parents that they will receive a flat discount and allow them to shop around and get the best value from it ? Another piece of good news is that as the existing system operates childcare providers and local authorities do all the administration for you. Each term they produce a register of children eligible on a return to the local authority. The local authority then pay the provider who then passes on the amount to you by way of a deduction on your fees account. You should be asked to sign a declaration (on paper) that accounts for you not receiving the funding elsewhere but that's it apart from checking the deduction appears on each month's fees bill :) If you like receiving the Government's 3 year old funding but would like more to help clarity about it then please like us on Facebook, links below. To find out how you can benefit from the superb services that our nannies in London provide or to speak to a member of our friendly team about our local nurseries, please get in touch by calling the Nanny Agency in London on 020 7228 2811 or by e-mailing info@babyroom.co.uk . We will be more than happy to help you with your enquiries. Keep up to date with Baby Room by following us on our Facebook and Twitter pages.
Posted in Latest News | Leave a comment

Happy Children, Happy Staff

As the founder of a small chain of four children's nurseries in and around London's Nappy Valley, and more recently having established a London-based Nanny Agency, I know how important it is to keep children happy and how that helps us around them to feel happy too; that’s exactly what we strive to achieve here at Baby Room!

Every week, I visit each of our four nurseries to conduct viewings and talk to staff. I often rush in and rush out again, desperate to get through the list of to-do items that we all have on our daily/weekly lists and, in my haste, have just realised that I had not yet used this blog to say thank you to all our wonderful staff members for providing such lovely environments and care for our children.

The photo below is of Blue Room at Webbs last Friday - the babies were asleep or joining pink room for snack. It was such a happy little moment – they often are! So big thank you to you all!

FullSizeRender

To find out how you can benefit from the superb services that our nannies in London provide or to speak to a member of our friendly team about our local nurseries, please do not hesitate to get in touch by calling the Nanny Agency in London on 020 7228 2811 or by e-mailing info@babyroom.co.uk and we will be more than happy to help you with your enquiries. Keep up to date with Baby Room by following us on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Posted in Latest News | Leave a comment

Nanny vs Nursery

As the founder of a small chain of four children's nurseries in and around London's Nappy Valley, and more recently having established a London-based Nanny Agency, I have given consideration to one particular question many times with many mums – nanny or nursery?

Woman and Children - iStock_000019966901_Large

First we must presume that both the nanny and nursery are good ones – I'll share what I think what makes a good nanny and/or good nursery on another blog. Also, let us limit the discussion for this blog to the care of a 6 month baby.

"Why we love Nannies"

Nannies arrive at your house in the morning - you do not need to necessarily get your baby dressed or out of bed if that is not their normal awake time. There will also be, in theory, less adjustment for the baby as they won’t need to settle into a new environment, as care will be at home and your baby can still go to the classes that they love.

A nanny is the definition of one-to-one care; at nursery, a key person will lead this care but a team delivers it. We will cover the importance of your child building and forming relationships with their caregivers in our next separation anxiety blog.

You will be able to know a lot more about your nanny, as the agency will check all aspects of their background and tell you about it. Nurseries have human resources departments, who also check staff backgrounds, but you might not get told much of this and therefore not get to know them quite so well quite as quickly as you might with a nanny.

A good nanny will get to know you and your family well and will likely become an indispensable part of your life. They may even stay with you as your family grows, providing care for other children you may have in the future.

Nannies can be more flexible with work hours than a nursery which has set opening and closing times, which is perfect for working parents.

A nanny can also continue to look after a sick child, whereas a nursery generally will not. If your nanny is sick however you will need to find emergency care (see our nurseries page for details).

"Why we love Nurseries"

A nursery will supply a ready-made group of new friends for baby to grow up and learn with and staff provide a matrix of social relationships for your child to experience. This could help to speed up learning at this early stage (such as synapse development etc).

Nurseries will require staff members to take time off when they are sick, but your child can still attend – the child cannot attend however if they have any of an Ofsted imposed list of contagious illnesses (chickenpox etc) and generally nurseries do not allow you to bring in a child that is ill. Generally this is defined as having a high temperature or having had two loose nappies. They will also ask someone to come and collect if any of these arise when your child is at nursery. If your baby is sick though you will find you will want to be with them.

Nurseries are generally flexible with your booking pattern (or can be super flexible like we are here at Baby Room, allowing you to swap holidays and sick days out of nursery for an admin fee – sorry, I digress ;)

  As baby goes to nursery there is no need to allocate extra space in the house for playroom/nanny/equipment/toys. You generally won't be charged extras for activities as you would be expected to with a nanny and there will be no nanny tax to administer.

A good nursery is expensive but still cheaper than a sole nanny and you don't have to spend time managing and overseeing your child's day once they are settled as you may find you do when working alongside a nanny.

Attendance at nursery – your booking pattern or registered days – can be varied more easily than when working with a nanny.

Nursery will subtly deliver different types of care and learning; from when your child is a baby with one to one attention and cuddles, up until pre -school where they will learn numbers, how to hold a pen and be learning against a structured curriculum which is the same in all UK nurseries - whichever one you walk into as it is mandated by Ofsted and called (currently) The Early Years Foundation Stage. The nursery must be led by someone with an NVQ3 in Early Years Education but many now, including Baby Room, have an Early Years degree level or qualified teacher at each nursery leading practice.

So that's some of the main differences that I hone in on and ofcourse they are just my opinion and based on what I have witnessed and learned in the last 10 years. There are others no doubt that will occur and I will come back to this post to update and amend it at some point in the future (just did - spot the changes !) What I do think and agree is the most important thing is to go with what you think suits you and what feels right for you - one size does not fit all and (although repeated often) it is the truest fact that every baby is different. Unique. So do what you feel is right for them 😊

Rest assured, though, that both are good options – it really is just a case of finding which is the right fit for you and your family.

To find out how you can benefit from the superb services that our nannies in London provide or to speak to a member of our friendly team about our local nurseries, please do not hesitate to get in touch by calling the Nanny Agency in London on 020 7228 2811 or by e-mailing info@babyroom.co.uk and we will be more than happy to help you with your enquiries. Keep up to date with Baby Room by following us on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Posted in Latest News | Leave a comment