What makes a Montessori nursery special?

Our view of the child as one who is naturally eager for knowledge and capable of initiating learning in a supportive, thoughtfully prepared learning environment. Montessori is an approach that values the human spirit and the development of the whole child—physical, social, emotional, cognitive. Maria Montessori believed that children who are at liberty to choose and act freely within an environment prepared according to her model would act spontaneously for optimal development.

Are your practitioners Montessori qualified?

We have one member of staff who is fully qualified in Montessori pedagogy for early years and all other staff have received informal training in the Montessori approach. In order to be offered a role at Growing Minds Montessori staff must pass a rigorous recruitment process, as we believe the Montessori philosophy comes from within and only the use of the materials is something that can be taught.

Do you have a high staff turnover?

No! We only employ the very best practitioners who are fully supported in their role with regular training opportunities. We recognise that when staff feel valued and their well-being and work-life balance is important to us, they resist the temptation to look for work elsewhere. In turn, children have stability and receive consistency in their care.

What experience and qualifications do your practitioners have?

Most of our practitioners are qualified to level 3 in childcare and hold a valid Paediatric First Aid certificate. Those who are not qualified are working towards a qualification. All of our practitioners have experience of working in early years, some more than 20 years! Most of our practitioners are parents too, so they understand childcare from a parents’ perspective.

When was your last Ofsted inspection and what was the outcome?

Our last Ofsted inspection was in Barnton on 6th January 2022. We were awarded with a good rating. You can read our Ofsted report here.

How many children will be in the room with my child?

Our largest room in Tarporley can take up to 10 children and in Barnton 15 children, but there are usually less children than this in a room. The rooms at both settings are spacious and we maintain staff:child ratios which are 1:3 for under 2’s, 1:5 for 2-3’s and 1:8 for 3 years and over, although we often go by 1:5 or 1:6 for over 3’s.

Do you have CCTV?

Yes, although it is only used for security and safeguarding purposes. Viewing the footage is restricted to nursery managers and directors, Ofsted and the police.

What is your typical routine like?

Children arrive and enjoy breakfast together, then at 9am the children will split off into their own rooms (if they haven’t already) and join in with welcome time where they greet each other, sing songs and share a story or two. At around 9.30am the children will begin their work cycle where they can choose their own activity or join in an adult led activity. The rooms are prepared with resources to encourage independent learning at the children’s stage in development. The adult led activities will be specific to individual children’s learning, cultural or religious celebrations, seasons or group interests. At 10am the work cycle will pause while the children enjoy their snack. Children are encouraged to pour their own drinks and prepare their own snack where possible. The work cycle continues until 12noon when it is lunch time. During the work cycle the children have opportunity to play outdoors, take part in music and movement and arts and crafts. After lunch a lot of the younger children have their nap and the older children will join in quiet activities; these include phonics, numeracy and looking at children’s interests for knowledge and understanding of the world, just to name a few! At 3pm the children enjoy their afternoon snack, then shortly after they join in together time (similar to the morning welcome time) where the children who only attend afternoons will get the same social experience. At this time we often have music and movement activities; parachute play, reenacting stories or yoga are just a few examples! At 4.30pm the children have a light tea followed by stories and conversation to round up the day.

Do you take the children anywhere outside the nursery?

Yes! In Tarporley we are lucky enough to have lots of wonderful countryside with tractors in fields on our doorstep, and Delamere Forest and Delamere Farm Shop (the best place for pumpkins!) are just a stones throw away. In Barnton we are lucky enough to have a library, enclosed parks, a woodland and beautiful canal walks with lots of boats, ducks and other wildlife right on our doorstep. At the end of the lane there are lots of fields with cows and sheep who we like to visit too.

We have backpacks with harnesses for little ones who are confident walking, and triple, double and single pushchairs for little ones who are not yet walking or can’t walk far. You will always be notified via the nursery app when we are away from the nursery.

How do you manage children’s behaviour?

If a child shows unwanted behaviour we try to find out the route of the behaviour and work with the child and sometimes their parent(s) to help them to overcome the unwanted behaviour through a positive approach (distraction, calm activities etc). Generally children are naturally well behaved and only start to show unwanted behaviour when they are seeking attention. When children’s needs are being met and they are nurtured and guided they are more likely to respond in a positive way.

How do you communicate with parents?

We have a secure online app where we log all nappy changes, sleep time, food and snacks consumed, accident forms (we don’t do these very often!), medication forms, photos, messages, learning progress and everything in between!

What are your opening hours?

Our core opening hours are 8am – 6pm, Monday – Friday. Early sessions can be booked from 7am and late sessions until 7pm. We are open 50 weeks of the year. We are closed for one week at the end of August (usually the week when the summer bank holiday falls), we close at 1pm on Christmas Eve then reopen the first working day of the new year and we are closed on all England bank holidays.

How do I register my child at Growing Minds Montessori Childcare?

You should first visit the nursery. You can arrange your tour by submitting the tour enquiry form here. Registering your child is really easy, just submit the child registration form here.

How soon do I need to register my child?

You should register your child as soon as you know what days and times you will need. We operate on a first come first served basis, so can’t always guarantee a space if it is left until the last minute. Many parents register their child when they are only a few weeks old, so they can rest assured we can guarantee the space they require. Our pre-school places however are reserved for children who attend the nursery prior to turning three. If you require a pre-school place please get in touch to check our availability. We cannot hold a funded only place for more than three months.

How much is your registration fee?

We do not charge any registration fees! We do however charge two weeks of normal fees calculated using the child’s usual sessions as a deposit. The deposit will be credited against your first month’s fees.

Do you have a minimum attendance?

Yes. When your child’s hours and days are the same each week, the minimum attendance is 2 half days (free 2, 3 & 4 year places have a minimum attendance of 3 sessions). If you require the flexibility of different days each week, to cover shift patterns, for example there is a minimum attendance of 20 hours a week, 5-10 hours a day.

Do you offer settling in sessions?

Yes, We usually arrange these over the days a child is scheduled to attend and a week before they are due to start. We offer a one hour session followed by a two hour session free of charge. If you decided your child needed more settling in sessions these would be charged at your usual rate.

What is included in the fees?

Our fees are all inclusive! All food, drinks (including formula for children under 12 month if required), nappies, wipes etc, daily activities, local outings and any other additional activities, for example, baking are included in the fees.

What should my child bring to nursery with them?

All your child needs is a change of clothes (maybe a few extra bottoms if they’re learning to use the toilet), any comforters for nap time, wellies, a warm coat and hat in colder months and a sun hat in warmer months. All your child’s belongings should be clearly labelled and in a small bag (drawstring bags are ideal).

What food, snacks and drinks do you provide?

We have a spring/summer menu that runs from March – August and an autumn/winter menu that runs from September – February. Both menus rotate on a five week rotation. Examples of the food we serve can be found here. Many of our ingredients are organic and we steer away from processed food. If your baby is weaning onto solid food we follow baby led weaning. If you need any advice on baby led weaning we can offer this too.

Do you cater to special dietary requirements, allergies or intolerances?

Before your child’s placement starts you can record your child’s dietary requirements on the Child Registration Form and on the nursery app. We have lots of experience looking after children with specific dietary needs. So if your child is new to solids, a vegetarian or vegan, has an allergy or intolerance, or any other dietary requirement, this is not a problem; we will work together to provide an alternative menu for your child.

What happens if my child is poorly or has an accident at nursery?

If your child is poorly you will be contacted as soon as practically possible. If they have a temperature and no other symptoms we usually ask permission to administer one dose of Calpol and we will monitor them. If there is no sign of improvement within an hour or if they develop further symptoms your child must be collected. If they require a second dose of Calpol they will need to be collected. If your child has an accident we will record it on an accident form on the nursery app and you will receive a notification. If the accident is major and requires medical assistance you will be contacted as soon as practically possible and you will need to collect your child or meet them at hospital. Please see our sickness policy here.

Do you charge if my child is off poorly?

Yes, you pay for the place you have booked and not for attendance.

Do I have to pay when the nursery is closed on bank holidays etc?

No, we do not charge for scheduled closures.

Do I have to pay when my child is on holiday?

Yes, you pay for the place you have booked and not for attendance.

Do you offer term time only places?

Yes, and you will only pay during term time! You can book additional ad hoc sessions during the school holidays and these will be charged individually at our usual hourly rate and subject to availability.

Do you offer ad hoc sessions or allow days to be swapped as a one off?

Yes, you can book ad hoc sessions in addition to your usual booking (we don’t offer ad hoc only placements). You can swap one day per month as a one off at no additional cost. The days being swapped must be in the same week.

What payment methods do you accept?

We accept the government tax free childcare, workplace childcare vouchers, bank transfer, direct debit, early years funding or a combination of these methods. If you need any advice on help paying for childcare please get in touch.

Do you offer funding for 2, 3 and 4 year olds?

We offer funding for eligible 2 year olds, and all 3 and 4 year olds. The government stipulate that children cannot claim funding immediately from their 2nd or 3rd birthday, but they can claim from the term after their birthday (or the term after they turn 9 months from September 2024). You must obtain a code from the government website for funding designed for working parents. Please see the funding section on our fees page for the options we have available.

Can someone other than me collect my child?

Yes, providing they are listed on the nursery app. You can notify us who will be collecting and at what time on the nursery app.