This help centre article was written for childminders preparing for registration with the Koru Kids' Home Nursery service
Choosing childcare is a big decision for parents and they typically view 5-10 settings before they make their choice.
Often, parents simply have a preference for something else. Parents can often browse many different options - and even if, for example, they are pretty sold on the local nursery they may tour you out of curiosity.
So don’t expect every parent to choose you. At times tours can feel disheartening as people don’t choose you. Do try and get feedback from families either whilst they are still with you or a day or two after the tour. This will help you to reflect and make changes if necessary.
When you are first looking to fill your places you will be doing tours often but after a while it will calm down as you will have fewer spaces to fill, less often.
It is a good idea to continue to do tours for parents looking for childcare in the future as this will get you your advance bookings or fill your waiting list so that you are able to refill a place quickly if you lose a child. This will keep your earnings consistent.
How tours are set up
When parents make an enquiry about your Home Nursery you will receive their contact details and they will receive yours. Please do try and make contact with the family quickly. When talking to them find out about their little one. How old are they, what are their interests, have they been in childcare before. Ask about what days/times they are looking for and when they would like to start. Do try and arrange a tour whilst talking with them.
Tour types & timings
There are three main tour types; Individual Tours, Open Days and Second Tours.
Individual Tours are when a family wish to see your setting and you meet them individually.
This is likely to be your most typical tour.
A tour should last around an hour - see structure below - but be prepared for it to be longer.
Open Days are when you arrange for up to 4 families to meet you all at once.
This might be a good option when you first open and you have a lot of spaces to fill.
If you know you have 2 spaces coming up in the upcoming September (as you have two children leaving for preschool) you can plan to have a series of open days rather than doing lots of individual tours.
Second Tours is when a family has done the main tour but they wish to pop back with more questions or bring their partner.
You can make these tours shorter and it is worth speaking with them in advance to find out what the most important aspects are they wish to cover.
We still encourage you to make some of your second tour in an outdoor space if possible so that the partner sees the full picture.
Try to do tours in the daytime, in the light if possible.
If a parent specifically only wants to come in the evening, that is fine.
Most mums looking for childcare are on maternity leave so daytime will suit.
Encourage families to bring their child with them on the tour.
Them bringing their child is a great opportunity to interact with their child and show off your know-how and rapport with children.
If your home is not yet set up please do have a look at this article for further information.
Arrange your home as you would on a day you would be receiving children.
If you are doing tours at the weekend and you put furniture or things back usually when children are not with you, put it back how you would have it on a childcare day.
Set out the play area as you have it for children with toys available to children. Try to have age-specific toys out depending on the age of the child that is coming to tour.
If you have a space or tuff-tray where you set out sensory activities, for example, set this out.
Ensure you set up your reading space and turn on your fairy lights and make it look welcoming and engaging for children.
Set out your dining area as you have it for the children to eat (e.g. have the highchairs out). You can even set the table so it looks as it would when children are about to eat.
Set up your sleeping space as the children would experience it. Close the blackout blinds and set the cots up with fresh linen as you would have them. Parents will really appreciate seeing how calm, dark and quiet your sleep space is. Have your monitor set up to demonstrate - if you use one.
Set out your entrance hallway as it would be on a childcare day. Be ready to show parents the space where belongings are kept and talk about your menu by way of it being on display there.
For more tips and reminders of setting up your home - remind yourself of all our tips in these articles. An especially important one to remember is being very conscious of the TV. Parents are really keen to understand that their children are not going to be in front of the telly at any point. 100% have it switched off and maybe even cover it with a throw. There are lots more tips on setting up your home in that section of the wiki.
Your wall pictures, photobooks and artwork display are an important part of bringing to life what your setting is like with children so make sure these are fresh.
Ensure your display of ‘Our Home Nursery’ is fresh and up to date and introduce the children you already have in your setting - their ages and speak fondly of them and their personality.
Parents are really keen to know who their child will be alongside and what the age differences might be.
If there is an age gap between the touring child and your existing child, speak about how great it is to have a mix of ages and how children benefit from being with peers at different stages of development.
We strongly suggest you have a wall display of photo prints such as Mixtiles (or similar) showing children engaging in outdoor activities.
As you begin operating you can use pictures of your children everyday and you will have no shortage of images to use.
In the beginning you can use pictures of your own children or borrow a friend’s children one day and take them to some green spaces to get some good pics of you with them.
Make sure your display of children’s artwork is fresh.
Displays can get tired and tatty quite quickly so do keep it fresh.
Displaying craft that relate to recent celebrations will remind parents that you do celebrate throughout the year.
Make sure your home is spick and span. Parents will be hypersensitive to any sign of uncleanliness.
The slightest sign of uncleanliness can be enough to put a family off as it communicates a laxness they really don’t want to see in their early educator.
Go out of your way to ensure your home is super clean.
It's important not to forget the approach to your home as well - sweep your path of leaves and dust your front door! First impressions count.
Remember that parents may want to see your bathroom also so make sure this is clean and set up as it would be for the children to use.
To remind yourself of cleanliness standards read this article here.
Make sure all your safety precautions are in place and visible.
Parents will be looking for signs of safety around your home, so having your stairgates in place, your fire blanket visible and so on is important.
Before each tour, look around your home from the point of view of a child and double check there are no piles of magazines about to fall on a child, or ornaments about to topple off shelves.
To remind yourself of safety proofing your home read this article here.
The tour: start outside
Arrange to meet parents in the green space that’s closest to your home and start your tour there.
It’s important that parents see your home as secondary to all the green spaces you use to take children out and about.
This is especially important if your home is quite small as parents will worry about the amount of space you have. However, if you set the scene and strongly remind them that you’re only home for a few hours in the afternoon they will be more accepting of your internal space.
Similarly, if you don’t have a garden, you can mitigate that by showing them one of the many green spaces you use and so demonstrating that it's not important you don’t have a garden.
Choose a green space that is closest to your home.
You will need to walk back from there with the parents as part of the tour so you don’t want to be too far away.
If it’s not one of your main green spaces (e.g. not the main park) that’s okay - simply explain on the tour the range of places you go to and this is just an example.
For the purposes it can be quite small as you can bring to life that little people don’t need a lot of space or stimulation to play well outside with the right nurturing. You can use your knowledge from your outdoor learning course to bring this to life.
Do make sure the green space you choose will come across as suitable for children - that is, don’t choose a space with a lot of litter or very close to a main road. See it through a parent’s eyes who will be very safety conscious.
Try to avoid green space with traditional play equipment. Parents will want to know the creative outdoor activities you do (exploring flowers, climbing on logs, looking for bugs) not get the impression you go to the swings every day.
When you arrange the tour with parents send them a WhatsApp message to set the scene that you will start the tour outside and why. Suggested copy:
“Looking forward to meeting you and [child’s name] at XX o’clock on [Date]. I like to start my tours by showing you one of the many amazing green spaces we use and set the scene of our outdoor learning. So can you please meet me at [Park name]. I will wait for you by [Try to give an obvious and known landmark] and I will send you my location via WhatsApp when I get there. Call me if you can’t find me. We will walk from there back to my house (about X mins) so you can see my indoor setting, so make sure you bring a buggy or sling if needed”
On the day, go to the park dressed as you would for a day’s childminding.
Don’t worry about dressing smartly. Parents will prefer seeing you as you will be ‘for real’ so wear your wellies and jacket. Just look presentable - a bit of mud adds to the authenticity!
Take along your photobook of activities and other spaces you use and any other key props (e.g things you use for your favourite activities and the porta-potty).
Start the tour with a warm introduction.
When you greet parents, try and greet their child first.
Parents will not think this is rude - they will love that you are child-centred and focussed. Drop down to the child’s level and warmly introduce yourself and start building a rapport with them.
If the child engages with you and begins to play or show you something or talk to you (if they are older) do not rush the exchange to get back to the parents, go with it - really engage with them and build their trust.
Parents will really remember that this is how you started things - your relationship with the child is, after all, the most important relationship.
Greet the parents and introduce yourself.
Tell them a little bit about yourself, your experience with children with childcare.
Say how long you’ve been running the home nursery and what your childcare experience was prior to that.
Say why you chose to be a Koru Kids childminder and what that gives you. For example, mention the training you’ve had, the support you get to comply with Ofsted standards and the fact that all the billing and administration is done for you so you can focus 100% on the children and their development.
Explain where your home is relative to where you are and how often you come to this space with the children.
If you’re using a smaller space, explain the other local spaces you go to. You can remind yourself about planning your local visiting spaces here.
Parents will be local so they will know about the spaces. Explain how you use each one and what the children love to do there.
Use your outdoor learning knowledge to introduce why you love to spend so much time outside (e.g. Research confirms what all parents know instinctively - that children who spend lots of time outdoors are healthier, better behaved, physically stronger and sleep better at night. Natural settings provide untold opportunities for learning. Children gain the vocabulary of the natural world and embody an understanding of science and technology as they watch a sycamore seed spiral to the ground or a worm bury itself back into the soil.)
Explain a bit about what kind of activities you do outside - use your photobook to show images of different activities you do.
Answer the following key questions parents will have:
What do you do in the rain?
Explain that you come out in all weathers - except high winds under trees - and that there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing! And that the children love to be out regardless of the weather.
What do you do about toileting?
Explain how you handle nappy changes and potty training - with the porta-potty.
What about eating and drinking?
Explain the routine and that you come out in the morning and then head back for lunch. Talk about the fact that the children stop for adventure snacks around 11am which you bring with you.
Give examples of your adventure snacks - e.g Oat bars or cut up apple.
Explain that children sit on a rug or on logs and you use it as a time to tell stories and chat.
For more questions families may ask please have a look at this article.
The tour: walking back
After around 20 minutes, walk back to your home chatting on the way.
On the journey talk about how you safely manage 3 children (e.g buggies, slings, buggy boards etc).
Talk about key points of safety management around roads etc.
Also mention how the journey is all part of the adventure and you use it to continue to educate the children.
Mention how you spot red buses, or count white vans or look at letters in the street signs.
You can remind yourself about getting out and about tips here.
As you approach your home, talk about your immediate neighbourhood.
Explain how long you’ve lived there and how well you know your neighbours.
Talk about the kind of mix of people that live around you - e.g. if there are families, older people etc. Bring to life that it's a safe neighbourhood of genuine people.
If everyone knows the postman or shopkeeper, mention these aspects of the community.
Mention what’s great about your community.
If there are less nice things about your immediate neighbourhood (e.g. littering, run-down aspects) don’t ignore these but speak to the parents about what is good about where you live, that you feel safe there and that there are improvements happening etc.
You can point out where parents can park or where you are in relation to the nearest bus stop or tube.
The tour: back home
Show the parents your home area by area.
Naturally start with the hallway. For tips on setting up your hallway - read this article. Mention:
Where children leave their things and their sense of belonging by having their own peg and box to keep their things.
The menu you have pinned up, how often it changes and that you cook a varied rota of meals. You can talk more about food later in the tour.
Next cover the main play space. For tips on setting up your playspace - read this article. Mention:
Your routine. That is, that children come back from adventures, eat, sleep and then play. Then have tea and read. This will bring to life that they are only playing for a fairly short period of the day and allay any fears that the space is small or that you don’t have piles and piles of toys.
Explain how you choose the toys to have - for example, that you prefer open ended play items with natural materials.
Explain how much unstructured playtime children get vs you running an activity and that it's important for their development that they get a mix.
Next, cover your reading space. For tips on setting up your quiet space - read this article. Mention:
How reading is a vital part of your routine and ethos. Explain that you read everyday after dinner whilst you wait for pick-up (“stories to set sail”).
That children can access books at all times and look at them themselves or you will offer to read to them.
Show parents your eating area. For tips on setting up your eating area - read this article.
Explain how children eat all together around the dinner table and you sit with them - this both keeps them safe from choking and means you can help them learn table manners and to eat for themselves.
Talk about the kind of meals you cook and that you like to serve food family style so that children help themselves and they learn autonomy over food.
Explain that you always ‘eat the rainbow’ and always have a wide range of different fruits and vegetables on offer at every meal.
Show parents the sleeping arrangements. For tips on how to set up sleep space read this article. Mention:
How you sleep the different children and ensure they don’t disturb each other.
Explain how you make it dark and calm for children to have the longest restorative naps possible.
Mention your safe sleep training and how you keep it safe and hygienic.
Talk about the routine and answer any questions. Explain that from 16 months most children are naturally in a rhythm where they want to sleep after lunch and this is what you work towards so they can enjoy their full morning’s adventure. Explain that when they are younger than this they may need a shorter nap in the buggy on the way to the green space or whilst you are there and that you work with that but gently nudge them as they become ready towards one long nap a day.
Show parents where you change nappies and/or they use the potty/toilet. Mention:
How you safely watch other children whilst attending to a nappy.
How you keep it hygienic.
Answer any questions about potty training - explain you mainly work with them to follow whatever routine they are using at home.
The tour: your family
Parents will be keen to know about your family and other people living in your home.
If your family is around for the tour, don’t hide them away - introduce them whenever it’s natural (for example, when you enter a room with them there).
If they are not there - use some prominently displayed photos of them to introduce them ‘virtually’.
Tell them a bit about your partner, if you have one, for example:
How long you’ve been together.
What they do for a living.
If they are around during childcare hours - if so, where are they and what are they doing (e.g working in the bedroom) to give people a picture of how much they are around your children.
Mention your partner has also had an enhanced DBS check.
Tell them about any other over 16 year olds that live in the house:
Who they are and how they are related to you or how you know them.
What they do for a living.
If they are around during childcare hours - if so, where are they and what are they doing (e.g coming in from college and in their bedrooms) to give people a picture of how much they are around your children.
Mention they have also had an enhanced DBS check.
Tell them about your children - and let them meet them!
Explain if the children will be cared for alongside theirs (if they are little) or if they are school age what times they will be in the house.
If they are little:
Ideally let the parents meet them and ideally have them play alongside your child as part of the tour. However - don’t be in sole charge of your child on the tour - have another adult taking the main responsibility so that you can focus on the tour.
Describe their personality and how much they love having buddies to play with each day.
If your children are older:
Mention how you will do the school run and how it will affect their child’s routine.
Explain if your children will eat alongside their children and if so, the positives of this - e.g. we all eat as one big happy family.
Talk about what your children are like with little ones in the house and (hopefully!) describe that the little ones love playing with them when they come home.
There are some important things that it is worth mentioning as part of the tour to give parents reassurance:
That no adults, other the DBS checked residents, are around in the house during childcare hours. The only exception being tradesmen in the rare instance of work needing to be done. No adults apart from yourself are ever left alone with the children.
That smoking is strictly prohibited in the house and in the garden.
That your setting has a no-screen rule, which means the TV or devices are rarely used. A tablet is only used on occasion to share educational videos with children relating to a topic they are interested in or you are studying. Children are never left to watch screens - it is always part of an interactive discussion. The TV is never on. You can read more about screens here.
That children are taught to feel at home but respect the space. They help with the tidying up of toys and cleaning after dinner and are taught to remove their shoes when they come in.
That within the home everyone is encouraged to be polite, use manners and be kind to one another. That you take emotional wellbeing very seriously and everyone’s feelings are considered.
Learning and development
As you are talking to the parents - both inside and outside - always link everything back to how children are learning in your care.
Talk about the development they get from outdoor activities.
Talk about the topics you do and celebrations you mark so that children are learning about the world.
Talk about how much reading you do to develop speech and language.
Talk about how you are constantly encouraging them to learn numbers in day to day life, by counting objects, trees, lamp-posts etc.
Talk about how you are following the EYFS - the same development programme nurseries follow.
Mention the 7 areas of learning and the characteristics of effective learning.
Talk about how you plan activities to ensure children are continuing to meet their milestones.
Show them the Koru Kids Activity Bank and the Community where you constantly get fresh ideas of activities.
Over time, take photos when you do activities and at this point of the tour have a photobook to show them which gives a taste and flavour of all the activities you do.
Talk about how you enhance the EYFS with an outdoor learning ethos. Mention the forest education training you have had and what you took from it.
Explain how you continually track their child’s development.
Show them a Learning Journal and talk about how you continually observe and assess the children to ensure they are developing as expected - checking in on milestones at key age points.
Talk about the two year check and how this is shared with the health visiting service and can pick up any issues so that the child gets support if they need it.
Koru Ethos & Wellbeing
Familiarise yourself with the Koru Ethos and talk about its key principles throughout the tour with examples:
It places the Whole Child at its core, which means their emotional wellbeing is just as important as academic progress.
That through your daily practice you will ensure their child will know in their heart they are secure, heard, understood and deeply supported. By being in a small group you are able to respond moment to moment to each child.
That you talk about feelings and use empathy so children make good decisions moment to moment. That your setting is calm with emotions in all their forms responded to consistently.
You use the language of feelings every day, ensuring children know how to understand and articulate a wide and complex range of emotions. This will equip them with the skills to express themselves, not just throughout their childhood but their whole life.
That by being in a small group, their child will make meaningful friendships they will delight in every day.
You embed acceptance of difference across play and in the stories you tell. So children in your setting internalise from a young age that they are loved, no matter what. Use examples of toys and stories that show difference in a positive way.
That even young children can be empowered to make a contribution to their community, as they grow. In small steps, we teach children to take responsibility and nurture their courage to speak up for themselves - and others. For example, you litter pick when you are out and about to give back to the community.
Download and print to refer to on your tours - here