Local Talk

Can You Help?: Please help! Which nursery? Cambridge Day Nursery, Abacus, Smiths Montessori or Snap! 4 Kids (Cambridge)?

(9 Posts)
MiniMaks12 Mon 25-Feb-13 00:36:47


I am newly registered user of Mumsnet Local and have already looked though its forums in Local Talk area. I found some information on nurseries I am currently thinking of but majority of them are old or very old.

I am looking for fresh opinions and experiences of four nurseries which are located close to my home. They are as follows:

1. Cambridge Day Nursery (Milton Road, Cambridge)
2. Abacus (Green End Road, Cambridge)
3. Smiths Children Montessori (St Luke's Church, Victoria Road)
4. Snap! 4 Kids (Chapel Street, Chesterton)

I have visited all of them (and four other) and have some opinion on all of them (see below) but would like to hear from Mums/Dads who can tell me about their experience and share their thoughs and perspective on their children's wellfare in these places, nurseries approach to teaching children new skills and promoting their further and better development.

I would love to send my little one to a place in which children are encouraged to gain new skills, in which carers show them what to do and what can be done with particular thing, where letters, numbers, shapes and clours are tought from very beginning...
I do appreciate promoting creativity and free flow play/games in the youngest ones but what I can see and say from my little experience with my first child is that if you show your baby what he/she can do then he or she is likely to learn new skills quicker than all maternity books say about particular age development.

Threfore...I really need your opinion on these four nurseries. My quick remarks can be found below.

1. Cambridge Day Nursery

First impression:

smell of mustiness / mildew smell in baby room area (January 2013) from the moment we walked in

only 3 cotbeds for 0-12mnts, rest of babies sleep on mattresses on the floor


colourful, plenty of displays with children work on the walls, small area of black and white and sensory area

good information board, parents forum, seasonal parties and parents meetings

young but friendly staff

close to the city centre, the river Cam, parks (Midsummer common, Christ Pieces, Jesus Lane, etc.), ducks, etc. so good opportunities for outings

friendly approach to multinationality, different religions, races, etc.

nice garden although toys were dirty and old (do children really care?)

OFSTED REPORT : GOOD, 2009 (mostly 2s)

2. Abacus

First impressions (Jan/Feb 2013):

small, cosy, friendly, seems to be clean
nice garden, nice toys (cleaner than in CDN)
friendly and multinational staff
weekly activities (discovering what cold means - snow)
friend's recommendation

OFSTED report - 3 sad

3. Smiths Children Montessori

Friendly staff, nice open space area bur seems to be too spacious (lack of cosy corners, soft play area, cosy pillows, etc).

not many toys (majority of them were wooden)

not many displays with children work

nice and cosy baby sleeping room

I have not checked OFSTED as yet.

4. Snap! 4 Kids

well, first impression - formalized and institutionalized playgroup (based in an old church building)

colourful, plenty of displays with children work

good quantity of toys and books

space for buggies and bikes

Babies area on the first floor - the person who showed me the nursery walked in slippers from ground floor area though outdoor pavement/passage to the upstairs area for babies (not very hygienic)

In Baby area:
a separate sleeping room with a cot bed for every child
a separate sensory room (not sure how often it is in use)
a play area with an allocated kitchen area

carers in Baby unit not very active - one of them was holding a baby, the other one was sitting next to / starring at 6 months old baby on a playmat - no talking or playing with her
thrd person was talking to me

It didn't look like these carers were going to do anything interesting with these babies...They were there - that was it.

WELL, these are my first impressions on these four nurseries but what are yours.

Please share your thoughts with me as I have to take a decision as soon as possible which means in the next few days sad

Thank you in advance for all of your advises.

AfricanBigElephant Thu 28-Feb-13 13:05:18

DD went to Snap 4 kids 6 years ago. She was there from 8 to 18 months.
The baby room was fine, one of the carers wasn't very warm, the other were nice. The next room (tweenies I think) was better in terms of carers but they had so little outside that they never played outdoors.
Also, I thought the manager was horrible, only concerned about money, rude, didn't care about ratios not being met (I complained about this several times), etc.

If the manager is still the same I wouldn't choose this nursery again.

Sorry it's a negative review and best of luck!

MiniMaks12 Thu 28-Feb-13 21:47:24

Thanks AfricanBigElephant. Presently Mrs Kay Fordham is the manager of this place. Is that the same person who you dealt with 6 years ago?
She was reasonably nice. My only concern about her was walking in slippers from one room (pre-school group) through outside pavement to a baby room. She thought that was fine - I didn't. Also, when I asked her if they cover the food / meals when they (carers) take them from the kitchen though outside to the baby room she said that this is not necessary as the rooms are really close to the kitchen and the staff take them as they are (without any cover/lid/kitchen foil, etc.). Does this meet food& safety regulations? I bet it doesn't.

orchardy Thu 28-Feb-13 22:42:36

I looked around Snap when looking for childcare for my DS - this is a few years ago now. I didn't mind the rather grubby, tired look of the place - in fact, it reminded me of my own childhood playgroups. But I did think it seemed all a bit haphazard. Walking between baby and toddler rooms we found a toddler alone in a corridor - the worker just said "Oh hello X, what are you doing there?" but didn't seem alarmed. Too many bored-looking young girls for my liking, but it may have changed. Also, hardly any outside space, which isn't such an issue for babies, but once they are mobile I would imagine is a bit of a drawback. If you can go slightly further afield can I recommend The Fields children's centre up at Abbey Meadows? Bright, clean, cheery, lovely staff, lots of space...

AfricanBigElephant Fri 01-Mar-13 07:48:15

Hi minimaks, that name doesn't ring a bell. The manager at the time was young - early 30s at most, with long fine mousy hair. Is that the same one?

I wouldn't worry too much about the food thing... what's the worse that can happen? :-)

mynameisnt Fri 01-Mar-13 13:55:31

My youngest dd went to cambridge day Nursery just as it was getting over the awful ofsed. Granted she was only in the pre school room but we loved it. She learnt so much there and it was a happy, loving place. Oh and the food was always excellent.

bonettil Mon 11-Mar-13 12:58:29

Probably a bit late but just wanted to say that my DS1 has been at Abacus for 2 years and he loves it - as do I. Like you said, it's small and friendly. It's a family-run nursery and as such the staff are are warm and caring - to the children and the parents. There's always interesting activities going on and the kids get to play outside a lot, which my son loves! They've recently acquired chickens (and a rabbit) and the kids enjoy collecting the eggs. I also chose Abacus after a personal recommendation. I went to view Snap and nearly cried at the thought of leaving my little one there! The baby room staff seemed quite young and disinterested, the outdoor area was pretty minimal and in the main room a toddler was quietly sobbing in a corner, undetected. I'm sure the nursery is fine and lots of people are happy with the place but my visit didn't give me a good impression. Hope this helps!

Tid1 Tue 21-May-13 19:27:15

Hi, not sure if you have made your decision yet but my daughter attends abacus and really likes it. The staff are friendly and warm, always have time to talk and give you feedback on the day. They have had some staff changes lately but hopefully it will settle down now. They always have time to give the kids a cuddle if needed. Choosing a nursery is a very personal choice and what I like another may not. Hope you find one that you're happy with

amoss1968 Tue 11-Jun-13 13:30:34

probably joining the discussion way too late but have you considered the Sunflower nursery on Stretten Ave (next to the Montessori!)? We couldn't get a place when we were looking for a nursery for our son but it gets rave reviews (we use the Wendy House in Impington which is fantastic - can't fault it at all)

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