Frequently Asked Questions

Before Nursery:

+ When do I need to book a place?

The best time to secure a place at Childsplay is during your pregnancy. This may seem early, but we tend to book up rapidly. We do operate a waiting list if there is no availability to suit your needs. However, this does not guarantee a place, therefore booking earlier avoids later disappointment. The majority of parents who make appointments to view Childsplay are in their second trimester.

+ What if I decide to alter my booked sessions?

When you make an enquiry about a place we ask you to be as precise as possible and remind you to take into account any holidays accrued over the term of your maternity leave. This allows you to ascertain an actual start date which takes into account plan your return to work date and two week settling-in period. Should you need to amend your confirmed booking the signed application agreement informs you of the 3 month notice period and also that it can only be accommodated at the manager's discretion.

+ Do I need to pay a deposit?

Yes, your booking cannot be secured until we receive your completed application form and 50% of your monthly fee. This payment remains in a secure client account and returned to you when your child leaves for school, or earlier, providing you give 3 months' written notice.

+ How do I prepare my child for starting nursery?

This question is difficult to answer, as all children are different. The way we encourage you to prepare is to inform you of the routine that is applied to the unit your child will enter into. To help parents prepare we offer a two week complimentary settling-in period. This occurs in the two weeks prior to your start date and is a very gradual and relaxing process. It is expected that you will learn everything you need to feel at ease in these two weeks and that your child is gradually introduced to nursery life. Prior to this period we will contact you to arrange a suitable date and time. We will also email you a list of menus and ingredients for you to introduce to your child at home when the time arrives. During the settling-in period we aim to find out everything we need to know about you and your child - discussing sleep, likes, dislikes, comforters, feeding, friendships, home life, special interests and so much more. You can prepare for this by bringing your child's health records and special things along with you. It can be a very daunting time, but this gradual transition has proved to relieve any anxieties parents may have.

+ Will I be offered pre-place visits?

Yes, you will be offered two weeks free to 'settle' you and your child into Childsplay. This can be flexible around your child's routine and other commitments. The days you are offered will reflect the days your child will actually attend nursery.

+ Are there a minimum number of sessions I can book?

From our experience the minimum sessions we would recommend are 4 per week, which is the equivalent of 2 full days. We have allowed parents to book for 2 sessions (1 day) each week but found this can be quite a stressful time for the child, who has had 6 days away from nursery to return for just one day. They find it difficult to secure attachments to life in nursery in such a short length of time. Obviously all children are different and some are more resilient so, if parents were truly adamant that they want only one day, we would need to address this with care and be mindful of the interests of the child.

+ How do you ensure security of the nursery?

We must and do take safeguarding very seriously and this is apparent from the moment you arrive at our nursery. The nursery is operated on a coded door entry system which is changed on 4/5 occasions throughout the year. Parents are informed of the entry system and asked to be vigilant about allowing access to people they do not recognise. No person should be granted access unless by management. On any occasion when there is a breach of security we are able to identify how this has happened and speak to the person(s) involved. If this is persistent, then action will be taken. All children in nursery are accounted for via a registration process, taken twice daily. Once you start at Childsplay, each family is provided with a unique confidential emergency code that you must reference at any time when you ring the nursery or when a member of staff calls you. This ensures we are speaking directly with the parent who has responsibility for the particular child.

+ Do you offer sibling discount?

No, our fees are the same for all children regardless of age or sibling status.

Whilst at Nursery:

+ Who will take care of my child?

At Childsplay a key carer system is in operation. This allows you and your child to bond specifically with one person, enabling the child to feel secure and also you in the knowledge that only one member of staff takes care of your child throughout their time in the unit. Your key carer is responsible for ensuring your child's needs are met i.e. feeding, nappy changing, development reviews, extended learning. Obviously there is no guarantee that the key carer is always going to be available for your child due to shift patterns, holidays, absence. As a result, we also operate a 'buddy' system. The buddy system ensures a second person is involved in your child's care and learning, so that they are not too dependent on one person or become insecure in their absence.

+ Can I continue to breast feed my child?

Yes. Many of our babies start nursery from 6 months of age, and it is recommended that babies should be breastfed inclusively for the first 26 weeks and alongside food thereafter. Therefore, should you wish to continue breast feeding your child, you can do so at Childsplay. If you work local you can make arrangements to come in to feed your child at times you know they will be due a feed, or you can ask your key carer to notify you if your child is showing signs of requiring a feed. This is certainly useful if you work near the nursery and can come in at short notice. If not, then you can also express milk and leave this at nursery with instruction on when and how best to offer this to your child.

+ I have some time spare during the day, can I call in to see my child?

Childsplay operates an 'open door' policy, therefore you do not need to make an appointment if you wish to call in to see your child. This is particularly helpful to new parents in the early weeks. What we do mention is that you consider the unit routine before coming in, as there may be other things going on at the time i.e. mealtimes/sleeps. As the child gets older and more aware of their routine and environment it may also become stressful and confusing for them if a parent calls in to see them but then proceeds to leave without them. Obviously all children are different and this will depend on the individual child.

+ How do I report concerns I have about my child's care?

During your two week's settling-in period you will also spend some time with a member of the management team. This process is to ensure all the necessary paperwork is completed with regard to your child's care whilst at nursery. We will inform you of the procedures in place and how we gather and store information relevant to your child, i.e. health, accidents, initmate care, development records etc. During this time we will also discuss the procedures in place, should you have concerns about your child's care. Each unit is assigned a line manager, although we hope that you can resolve any issues with your key carer. However, should this not be the case, then we encourage you to approach the relevant line manager. Should you still have concerns, then the Nursery Manager is always available. Should you still feel that your concerns have not been addressed, your next course of action would be to contact Ofsted. We do take our parents' concerns very seriously and would therefore hope that issues can be dealt with to aleviate any further stress.

+ My child has a special diet, can this be accommodated?

Special diets, aside from vegetarian, vegan, cultural or even preferencial choice are rapidly increasing. At Childsplay we have found special diets to be just as likely as a 'normal' diet. There are an increasing number of children who need to avoid certain foods due to allergies or health concerns. We are able to accommodate any special dietary requirements your child may have. Examples of current diets are the need to avoid gluten, soya, dairy and certain types of food. When starting nursery you will be provided with a copy of all menus and ingredients for you to introduce to your child at home, as our policy states that no child can be offered foods without first trying them at home. Where necessary, staff are trained in the use of EPPE pens and all children with a special diet related to specific allergies have an individual healthcare plan. Many years ago we also introduced a system to ensure all staff were aware of specials diets and applied a 'risk' procedure in conjunction with a colour-coded dinner plate/bowl system. We regularly review procedures and implement changes to ensure the safety of our children.

+ We are going on holiday for one month, what happens to my fees?

There is no change to fees if your child does not attend nursery, regardless of holidays or time off.

+ My partner and I receive childcare vouchers, how do we pay fees to include these?

Your fees are due on the 1st of the month for that month. We accept childcare vouchers and are registered with many companies but can regsiter with others if you provide the details. We do not accept salary sacrifice unless your employer understands and agrees to our payment terms. If both parents receive vouchers we can accept two payments towards fees. Any fees remaining after vouchers can be paid by setting up a standing order to our business account.

+ I am interested in joining the committee, how do I apply?

The committee consists of parents and staff members. We have positions of Chair, Vice Chair, Treasurer and members. The committee is the decision-making body for the nursery and operates similarly to a school board of governers. You can be a member of the commitee providing you currently have a child attending Childsplay, or are a member of staff. There are 10 places available which include the roles named above. Should a vacancy arise, this is advertised on the internal notice board and via email. You can approach existing members for further information if you are interested in joining, subject to approval at the January AGM. As we are a co-operative, any parents can support the nursery in other ways - i.e. to offer advice and expertise in areas such as gardening, cooking, DIY, ICT etc.

+ What will my child learn at nursery? Is there a curriculum?

We do not follow a curriculum in thesame way as schools. We are, however, legally obliged to adhere to a framework called the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). This is a set a of guidelines to which all settings, including childminders, must adhere. It sets the foundations to a child's learning and ensures their development is nurtured and encouraged. It allows staff to ensure your child is developing well and supported in all relevant areas. In addition to this framework, our philosophy is inspired by the Italian Reggio Approach, where children are the educators and explorers in their own learning and development. Practitioners observe and provide for their needs though resources, extended learning, provocations, time and support. We acknowledge that all children are unique and are inspired by the world around them. It is our goal to ensure they benefit from their time in our nursery and include links with home and external agencies to best cater for their needs.

+ My child is two years old and showing signs he is ready for potty training, what support do you offer?

Potty training can be a very daunting time for both the child and parents. Children can be anxious about the changes to their body and about the process. Parents often don't know when the 'right' time is and often worry about how they can best support their child. It is important to remember that all children are different. Boys and girls are ready at different times and can usually tell you when they are ready, even by just showing the signs. It can be a difficlut and time-consuming process but, if parents are guided and children supported, then it is also a rewarding time. Staff are supportive of parents and children and will help by talking through the process and the signs to look for, in particular in identfying the 'right time'. There are information leaflets, reward charts, resouces in play and other props within the unit to help.

+ What parking facilities does the nursery have? Can I bring my bike?

If arriving by car to Childsplay there is an arrangement in place for parents who are dropping off or collecting children. There is a large Local Authority car park directly opposite Childsplay on Claremont Place. Parents are requested to sign up to a contract with Childsplay for short term parking; 15 minute period ONLY when dropping off or collecting children at any time of the day. Parents are given a Childsplay parking disk which MUST be displayed on their car windscreen or dashboard and be clearly visible to Newcastle parking control enforcement officers for the 15 minute period.

N.B: Whilst this is not a permit to park, it operates to inform the parking inspector that the owner of the car is inside the nursery and 15 minutes will be timed.

Childsplay encourages parents to park in the spaces to the Right-hand side of the car park. This is in order to leave the car park through the pedestrian gate which leads to the traffic Island, parents can then safely cross the road with their children, with only a short walk to Childsplay.

We do have one bike stand within the main entrance yard and we ask parents to form a queue in the use of this. Unfortunately, we do not currently have facilities for you to leave your bike at the nursery throughout the day.

+ Do you have a facility to leave prams so I don't need to take it to work?

Childsplay offers a facility for parents to be able to leave their pram/buggy with us in a lockable storage building each day. The building is large enough to hold approximately 30 buggy’s/prams per day, however parents are requested to fold buggy’s in order to create a safe space for all. Some prams/buggy’s may be left unfolded, this is with special permission only.

+ Do you offer discount for students and hospital/university staff?

There is no discount for students or staff in nearby premises. We are not part of the University or Hospital. The fees are applicable to all.

+ How do you inform me of my child's development?

As staff support your child's development they are also observing their progression. This is documented in a personal 'Learning Journey' unique to your child and consists of photographs, samples of work and evaluations. Each term staff hold development reviews with parents, which allow staff to dicuss how they feel their child is developing at nursery. It also allows for parents to discuss any other issues or concerns they may have. These reviews are held throughout the nursery and, as your child makes the transition between units, you are invited into nursery to be involved in the transtion and you will keep the learning journey from the previous unit. We encourage parents to also complete a learning journey at home, which can be incorporated into their nursery file.

+ What if my child is poorly?

When you initially enquire about a place at Childsplay the managerment will discuss childhood illnesses and how this will impact on nursery attendance. It is apparant that when children first start nursery they will become exposed to different strains of viruses and bacteria which cannot be avoided. It allows the child's immune system to become stronger but within this process they are more prone to pick up common colds, sickness and diarrhoea, chicken pox and other illnesses. We do operate a health policy that informs of exclusion times, and managers make you aware of this during your settling-in period. Therefore, it is imperative that you consider who can take time off to care for your child, should they be excluded from nursery due to illness. All advice on childhood viruses and illnesses can be sourced from the local Health Protection Agency.

+ How do you support development concerns?

If staff have any development concerns that are urgent and cannot wait until your termly development review, then they will speak with their line manager, who will then make a decision on the next process. This could be to provide further support within the unit or go to the management team. This will then be further discussed with parents and, if necessary, additional steps and external agencies contacted. No action will be taken without the involvement of the parents; this is a collaborated and supported process.

+ What is the Government's free hours scheme? How do I access this?

The Government 'free hours' scheme is an entitlement of a maximum of 15 or 30 hours per week, available over the school term times only, where a child can attend a nursery and receive Government funding. At Childsplay we do offer the Free Nursery Entitlement but not exclusivly. You will therefore incur some fees for the additional hours used in the same day. Your fees are calculated over the whole year as a 'stretched offer', to allow for the consistency of payments from parents throughout the year. All 3 and 4 year olds are entitled to access these hours, but it does not commence until the term following your child's 3rd birthday.

There are also free nursery entitlement hours available for some two year olds, but families must meet the elgibility criteria for these.

If you’re eligible for the extra hours, you sign up online to get a code to give to your childcare provider to reserve your place. You’ll get the extra hours once the next term starts. We then process them by working with the Local Authority. However, you must complete a Parents Agreement form once attending the nursery. If your child attends more than one nursery, the funding will be paid direct to the nursery within the Local Authority in which you reside, but it can also be proportioned between both settings.