It is the time of year where you decide which school your kids are going to, registration started a while back, and although my first two kids are in their school’s, I decided my baby could benefit from attending nursery. Sending your child to nursery is a very personal decision that should be based on your child’s needs, I decided my son needs to socialize with other kids as well as learn to be away from me, I have no expectations for anything else.
It might seem that nursery isn’t a big deal when it comes to choosing a good one, there is no “studying”, so finding one is easy. Unfortunately, it isn’t, because a lot of safety standards are overlooked in nursery as there is no criteria to open one. Nurseries in Kuwait do not fall under the Ministry of Education, they go under the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor; their rules are very relaxed.
So, what should you look for when searching for a nursery? Here is my criteria:
- Are you allowed to see the facility, during work hours?
Many people argue that you are not allowed while the kids are there so they don’t throw tantrums remembering their parents. Kids start nursery in September, and the time you are going in March or April, children have gotten over the “abandonment” issue. I haven’t been to any nursery where a child saw me and broke out in tears, so beware, if they wont let you come in when kids are there, they probably don’t want you to see what goes on.
- How does the reception look like?
This might sound funny at first, but is the reception closed off or open for anyone to go in and kids to easily go out? I don’t care if they have a security guard outside, kids can sneak off without being noticed. If the entrance and exit are not closed off from where the kids are, that could be a hazard.
- Is the place child-proof?
Most of the nurseries in Kuwait are houses that have been transformed into schools, the floors are ceramic, the stairways are dangerous to kids, and doors are heave wooden doors. Bathrooms are regular adult ones with small potties around them, sinks are high with a stool for kids to stand on. All inappropriate for kids that age.
This is usually the bathrooms or kitchens where the kids go to eat. When you visit during working hours, you can see if the staff clean as they go or leave it till the end of the day. You want people that clean as they go.
- What’s the staff to child ratio?
Most places have a policy of 15 kids per class with 3 adults, in my experience with my two other sons is that the classes tend to be 12 kids to 3 staff members, but I have seen places that go over the limit. Ideally the class should stick to 15 to 3.
- What is the staff credentials?
There is no studying, but you do want staff members that know how to deal with a child’s personality at that age. Do they know how to deal with tantrums? Are they able to pick up abnormal social behavior’s? All these things that they should be able to report to you if they suspect a problem. This goes to assistants too, although they wont be properly educated in that field, they should be trained. I have seen many assistants that were actually housemaids turned assistants.
- The most IMPORTANT point, what’s the nurseries policy when it comes to medical emergencies?
It is disappointing that I haven’t been to a nursery that has a nurse or a trained staff member in first aid and CPR; this should be mandatory at any facility that houses infants. Every nursery depends on making an emergency call if a child needs immediate attention, but according to the EMS an ambulance should reach your location in less than 8 minutes… I find that hard to believe.
Of course many of these situations are far fetched and probably never happened, but still possible. I want to know that if my son falls there would be a staff member that knows I should watch him the next 24 hours in case it was more serious than a bump on the head. In the end even if you drop off your child at nursery, what choice you make is your responsibility, and a little research is not hard to do.
Many of the things listed above should be standard, but there is not follow-up or monitoring from any authority that forces nurseries to comply, and at the rate of fee’s they are charging, your demands have to be higher. Be your child’s advocate, don’t send your child to a nursery just because it’s the hardest place o get into, or your friend takes her child there. Be an informed parent.