Our personal experience with childcare in Ericeira starts with our nursery hunt whilst still living abroad. Doing our research, we found a handful of childcare for babies from 3 months to 2 years old. But, would we be able to secure a place? And, would this place be good?
Childcare in Ericeira: The Nursery-Hunt
In the beginning of October 2017, as we decided to move to our new home, we began the active search for a nursery for our toddler, to start in the following April.
I contacted the local “public” nursery that we knew about, without any luck. The Centro Social de Ericeira was full and had a growing waiting list. Then, I went through the list of local private nurseries and booked a visit at the ones that could, potentially, accommodate us. These were Estrela do Mar and Colégio Verde Água.
Childcare in Ericeira: Choosing The One
The 2 nurseries were quite different from each other. Estrela do Mar is smaller and has a cozy, “home-made” feel about it, which we much appreciated. On the other hand, Colégio Verde Água stood out for its infrastructure and, mainly, for the effective way in which the teachers patiently talked to us, parents.
To tell you the truth, we were not sure which childcare in Ericeira to choose. Luckily, we did not have to decide for ourselves. As Estrela do Mar could not give us a definite answer, we secured our place at Colégio Verde Água.
The Childcare of Our Choice: Loving it or Leaving it?
Both. Loving it for now and leaving it in the near future, when time calls for bigger challenges.
Our Little One started nursery in April 2018 and has been there ever since.
Although this is not a perfect place, we are happy to know that our toddler is in a safe place, with people that he loves and can trust.
Above all, our child is having fun, enjoying the play and learning to express himself in Portuguese. He is proud to become more independent. Despite being excited to see me at the end of the day, he sometimes wants to stay and play for a few more minutes. This is, at least, reassuring.
What we Love about our Childcare in Ericeira
There are many aspects we appreciate in this nursery. However, what really makes it worthwhile is knowing that our child will be having fun, in a safe and comfortable environment.
Now that our toddler is 3, we start wondering whether this really is the culture, the sort of activities and values that suit us the best.
Are we really making the most of these daily 5 hours spent at nursery, in these precious early years? Whatever it is that our child is learning, we are reinforcing this every day.
Although we keep on observing and questioning our childcare choice, we find that the balance is still positive. And here are some reasons why:
- Our toddler loves the teachers and sometimes says he wants to go to their home
- The school Chef cooks the meals in the school kitchen
- The staff is cheerful and attentive to details
- The teachers have been really helpful with sharing local information and recommendations
- Fix staff, people stay
- Good atmosphere and relationships in the team
- Time flexibility within the schedule 7:30 am to 7:30 pm
- English teacher Leonor works around the activities that are happening in class
- The music class with Mara: our son loves paying Mara at home, singing new songs with his guitar
- Outings to the theater
How Could we Make our Chosen Childcare in Ericeira Even Better?
Whilst happy with the nursery of our choice, we still think that there is room for improvement. In my view, there are a few simple measures that management can take to make our lives a bit easier. These would include:
- Social and cultural diversity among students
- Vegetarian meals option, please
- Maybe more play time in nature (although we already do this ourselves)
- Could we be more relaxed about how well a 2 year-old handles their cutlery?
- Management could be more relaxed about recruiting new students. We were told that this was the last vacancy, and so were the parents before us.
- Paying the fees could be more straightforward e.g. annual payment or monthly payment by direct debit
On the other hand, there are also complex and continuous work that could be done. Specially, investing in training and supporting new team members, in the rare occasion. Thus, making sure that all the lovely and caring people, inspiring our children every day, are on the same page.
- Each term, every toddler receives a full, personalized progress report. Is this not excessive? Surely, teachers’ valuable time could be better employed.
- Could we be more careful not to fall into old educational models, e.g. “you are not to see what other kids are doing” (why not? I am, and should keep on being, curious); and, “this is not time for singing, stop it” (really?).
Our Chosen Childcare: Is This Really The Bee’s Knees?
There are other nurseries in Ericeira and surroundings that might be just as good or, in fact, better than ours. Honestly, this was the place available to us when we needed it the most. And, we are still there because, all things considered, we are still happy with it.
However, parents do talk. And I keep on changing impressions with parents of children going to other nurseries, of course. Parents, in general, are quite happy with their nurseries too. This includes parents to children who had been in Colégio Verde Água before and ended up moving later on, to Colegio Art & Manha or CEBI, for example.
Childcare in Ericeira – Happy Ever After
In conclusion, Ericeira is a happy place to be a child. As a parent, I do believe that the childcare in Ericeira is exceptionally good. This might be because of the high standards or maybe, just because this is a small place, where people know and care for each other. In such places, people keep their jobs, care about them and, should naturally excel. On top of that, Portugal loves children, and this is in the local culture too.