Finding a new school for my baby

23 August , 2010

On wednesday, I took a day’s leave to go check out schools (again).

It’s time.

Nicola is getting a bit hard to manage for my gran and honestly I think she’ll benefit from spending some time with other kids during the day now. Whenever we run into any over the weekends she is always fascinated – so I think it’s time to start socialising.

I knew that this time around there would be no easy school hunting for me. I’ve come to realise that even though I liked Nicola’s previous school and principal, if I had spent some time watching the actual teacher in the baby class interact with her charges I would not have sent her there at all. This time I need to be 100% sure that it’s the right fit for my munchkin.

I’m not being overly dramatic when I say that there are probably +/-100 childcare facilities in a 10km radius of where we live, so I had my work cut out for me. I did not get round to all 100 but I managed to do 10. Out of the 10 I actually found 2 that I liked, one being my clear favourite at the moment but the other also pretty good as a plan B. I’m sending my folks round to my top 2 to see if they spot anything I might have missed.

Of the 8 I didn’t think were a fit for us i have only a few observations that I would like to share with you. I’m not going to name and shame them, but I will point out some “funnies” and the down-right shocking.

  • In one of the schools the principal is clearly almost never there and the teacher who showed me around was drunk. Not saying I don’t get it. I have only one and when she’s having a bad day I feel like drinking too, but I think it’s different when you’re charged with the safety and well-being of +/-50 or so little people. At this particular establishment I would also just like to point out that the toilets were FILTHY and the food was revolting.
  • At another school I saw the most beautiful playground I have ever set eyes on. Honestly, it’s like something from a fantasy. If I was a kid – I’d want to play there all day long. Heck, I’d play there now if I could find a way to make money doing it. However the school side of it leaves much to be desired. It’s quite obviously a house that’s been converted to a school and the rooms are soooo tiny. One room I walked in is just slightly bigger than our bathroom and there were 8 kids sleeping like sardines on the floor. Sorry, that won’t do.
  • Another school that I found odd had all the class facilities and playground facilities that I think would come in handy but the very hippy-like principal confessed to me that they do roughly 15 minutes of “desk work” a day with their kids and the rest of the day she lets them play outside, wild and free. That’s nice, but how will they learn how to read?
  • And then there was also one that I didn’t have an actual problem with the school, but which has little to no parking. I’ve driven past there in the mornings and it is chaos! When I want to punish myself I’ll do it in some other way thanks. It’s unfortunate though because it is quite close, the people look like they’re good at what they do and love kids and the facilities are pretty good too.

Things I looked at to get to my top 2 were the following:

  • How happy do the kids look?
  • How happy do the staff look? (if you hate your job chances are you’re not going to get on well with my demanding daughter while doing it)
  • How do the teachers interact with the kids? (not just in the class that she’ll be in but also future classes – if I hear someone screaming at a kid or talking down to them it won’t fly)
  • How secure is it?
  • What is the condition of the playground? (including the sandpit, and how often is it cleaned and how)
  • What is the condition of the class rooms and the teaching materials?
  • What is the disciplinary procedure for naughty kids?
  • Is there sufficient parking?
  • How far do I have to travel to get there?
  • How long have they been in business?
  • Business hours?
  • Fees? (I don’t mind paying more as long as I know she’ll have EVERYTHING she needs)
  • What do I have to provide other than my kid and her school fees?
  • What’s the policy on sick children? (I think if it’s contagious they should be at home, but I’d like not to have my baby sent home again for teething)
  • Gut feel

It’s not a be-all and end-all list but I think I covered the most important bases.


My folks have returned from their look-see and my favourite is their favourite too.

Looks like we have a winner! πŸ˜€



  1. Shew you are thorough – glad you found somewhere you are happy with. It is a tough decision.

  2. Its amazing how many checkpoints have to be in place before we as moms are happy that our littlies are being cared for in a safe secure home from home environment. Its worth doing the extra research and your negatives are all valid. Its also amazing how many people are prepared to put their kids in less than agreeable environments although I presume that some are unable to choose another place through lack of transport or resources. I am glad you have found the right place for Nicola though and I hope she can settle and thrive in her new environment.

  3. Well, it certainly can’t be said that you’re not thorough!
    Good luck finding the right place! πŸ™‚

  4. Duh! Just saw the update bit at the end of your post.
    Glad you’re happy, then.

  5. Good luck – hope it is a great fit.

  6. Can’t believe how big she’s getting, it’s been so awesome to watch daily πŸ™‚

  7. Hope your choice works out.

  8. I like the way you think!
    I had friends and family tell me several times that I was too picky or too fussy when I was looking for schools for Damien.

  9. I agree with your points. I took my son out of his first daycare when he was 6 months old because of how the one teacher spoke to the 3 year olds. Glad you found a school that fits.

  10. Barb, I try. πŸ˜‰ Most people who know me well would be quite surprised that I haven’t got a spreadsheet for this.

    MeeA, cat & Jeanette, thank you! I’ve already enrolled her and the big first day is next week Wednesday. I’ll keep you posted (of course). πŸ™‚

    Chris, you really can’t believe how quickly they grow up until you watch it happening right in front of you.

    Angel, I don’t think there is such a thing when it comes to the well-being of your child. I have some weird requirements too though for instance, a couple of schools I didn’t deem fit because they were just too clean. No sand in the sandpit for instance…kids have to get a bit dirty while they play?

    Panni, I totally understand that. You never know when the teacher in your kid’s class if off sick and the local dragon ends up looking after them. If you want to to teach a kid how to be respectful is it not best to show them respect too? Did you find a different school for him that fit after that?

  11. WOW, thanks for linking to this post in my comments. It’s GREAT with all the questions and I’m sure some of my very silent friends will also read it and love it πŸ™‚

  12. Anytime – I hope it helps. πŸ™‚

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