Read Options in pre-school providers, and list the providers who you are considering for your child. Check whether they are approved by the Office for Standards in Education (OFSTED) so that you can claim tax credits and/or childcare payments and free education for three and four year olds. Also the Early Years Foundation Curriculum will be in place. You can also read the OFSTED inspection reports to check that the pre-school provider offers good provision for your child.
If you choose a setting that is not 'approved', such as some Montessori nurseries, remember that the curriculum may be different and you may not be able to claim the tax credits, or childcare payments.
Remember that financial help from the government for childcare costs is not provided if you have a relative providing the childcare.
Parents may wish to consider options in providers that reflect their views on ethics, faith and same sex parenting to name but a few of the possible personal concerns that they may have. Consequently, they may wish to choose a pre-school provider in an area where appropriate primary and secondary schools are located.
Visit all the providers on your list and check:
General hygiene, maintenance and safety of the indoor and outdoor environment.
Training and attitude of the key adults.
Staff experience of stammering.
It would be particularly helpful if there were another child who stammered in the setting. If there is, and you don't know the parents, ask if they can be contacted by the setting to enquire if they would be happy to chat with you about their experiences.
Check that staff have received some training on speech, language and communication needs. There is a considerable amount of training available now, so, if staff have no awareness of this, they may be less interested in understanding your child's needs. You must feel confident that your provider will be interested in your child's speech development, and notice if he is stammering, so that an early referral to a speech and language therapist can be arranged.
If your child is stammering when he starts pre-school, and sees a speech and language therapist, you need to know that your pre-school will follow any advice provided by the therapist and use any resources you provide, such as those from the BSA and from this resource What your pre-school staff need to know to help your child.
Ask about strategies for working one to one with a child, as your child may need this support occasionally, and effective staff planning is needed to provide it.
Take note of how the adults present talk to each other, as your child will observe this. Any adult conversations that he hears that causes him anxiety or feels threatening in any way could have the effect of undermining his own confidence in talking.
Notice whether the other children seem to respond to staff and each other and seem happy as they work and play.
Delivering the curriculum
All approved childcare providers in every setting are responsible for this and should follow the Early Years Foundation Curriculum. You should take note when you visit that this is being provided as outlined in this resource - What is taught in a pre-school setting?
How can I be sure that my child will receive experiences for learning that he enjoys?
There is real skill in interpreting the requirements of the Foundation Curriculum so as to balance its formal demands with elements of learning through play. You must decide what balance of formal learning and play-based learning your child needs when you consider a setting.
Enquire about the means by which staff assess progress, the arrangements for reporting this to parents and the opportunities to meet staff.
Talking and listening
A setting that actively supports this is helpful for your child, as he can build up his confidence in speaking and listening.
You should observe activities with a child, or children, in the setting so that you can see how well key adults communicate with them. Notice if they use appropriate language and speak clearly and slowly enough to be understood by a young child.
Check if they appear interested in the children's responses and are obviously listening attentively. When staff speak to children you should feel that they enjoy talking with children, are making the effort to introduce varied vocabulary and are encouraging the children to learn words in a positive way. Remember that a child who stammers may be more sensitive than is the norm and responds best to a gentle and caring approach.
The balance between staff and children listening and talking should be about equal.
You should see evidence of resources for this in the rooms that the children use. Look for attractive books displayed in such a way as to attract a young child, and try to see that they are not just for show by observing other children using them.
Rules for daily procedures
Ideally procedures for these, such as staff taking the register, or a child making a toilet request will be as flexible as possible so that children can respond in their own way. Your child may find it difficult to answer his name at registration for instance, and would be helped by a flexible policy that allows children to respond by putting their hand up.
Communication between the home and the Early Years setting
This should be clear from the beginning and parents should know exactly what arrangements are made for this. Often the setting will provide a diary in which both the staff and the parents can write daily, so that details of the child's needs and progress are always monitored.
In a group setting it is helpful to have a designated key worker with whom parents can liaise.
All registered pre-school settings must have important policies available for parents to see. Sometimes these may be displayed. You can ask to see all the policy documents if you wish. The policy on Special Educational Needs (SEN) is especially relevant.
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Text for this whole section: Choosing your pre-school provider