With lots of attention being cast on nursery staff at the moment - how many children they can look after, their pay, their role, qualifications and training (all part of the 'More Great Childcare' debate -
I thought it might be a good time to share one of our team's "Day in the Life of..." blogs. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did, and I hope that it also highlights the positive experience that the right person, with the correct attitude, knowledge, experience and training, can bring to a child's day at nursery.
Hayley - Toddler Room (age 18 months to two years)
It's 7.30am and the nursery has just opened for the day. As the first children arrive, I welcome the parents and their children. The first child runs towards me, proudly saying: 'look' - pointing at her new wellies. I smile and say how lovely they are and that they will be very good for splashing in the garden.
After being welcomed into the nursery, the toddlers are ready for a hearty breakfast! They enjoy being independent and I like to support them in doing this, as they choose what they'd like from a variety of cereals, which I assist with, offering help when needed.
Once 9am comes, and we're all warmed up and wide awake, we decide it's time to head outside. As we go out, I watch the excitement spread across each of the children's faces - outdoor play is such a firm favourite with this age range of children. It's very wet, so I decide to sweep the garden. I see many little eyes watching me, so I decide to involve the children, as they all seem so interested. I offer them the small sweeping brushes and together we sweep the puddles and leaves on the ground. With lots of happy chatter and smiles, I know it was the right decision to include them in this task, as we're having fun and learning about all sorts of things as we go.
With some of the team playing with the children outside, I pop inside to collect some things. As I come back outside with my notebook, I am met by lots of busy toddlers - there is something very inspiring about little minds at work. I take a back seat for a while and observe without being involved, catching lots of new words and experiences. After about 10 minutes, I am very happy with some of the learning experiences and activities I have witnessed - and also extremely proud! I will get these prepared to put into the children's 'Learning Journeys'. Once back indoors, we carry on with nappy changing time - not just part of the routine, but an ideal time for each child to have one-to-one time with their key person.
I notice a child sat in the comfy area playing with the finger puppets, and attempting to remember the rhyme that matches the puppet. She looks at me and smiles; I know this is the ideal time for me to join in and support her. Gradually, the other children come over and sit down, until we end up having a small group singing and rhyme session. I carry on, as lunch is about to be served - this makes it an ideal time to be together in a group activity. I take the children and, in turn, we wash our hands. I assist while the children dry them, and together we choose a bib - everyone very much looking forward to their lunch, which is chicken and leek pie.
I set up for sleep time. This is one of the most important times of the day - a chance for the children to rest and re-charge their batteries. I create a calming atmosphere, dim the lights, play soothing music and make sure that everyone has a comfy blanket. As usual, this works perfectly and within minutes the children are fast asleep!
Now it's time for me to grab some lunch whilst the children sleep, leaving another member of the team with the sleeping children. After my break, as the children carry on sleeping, the team and I take the opportunity to plan ahead for the afternoon. A printing activity is prepared. Some children are gradually waking up, so I comfort and attend to them - a cuddle is always needed for a half-asleep toddler.
We are all up and ready to start the afternoon. The children are given the option to choose what they want to do from many activities on offer. The printing activity is very popular and a big queue forms quickly around the table. I was very touched when I saw one of my key children bring over their masterpiece to show me - they are very proud of it, as am I. Together, we put it onto the parent communication board for mummy to look at later.
As we are learning to move our bodies around in different ways, I decide that I will do some dancing to encourage movement and confidence. The 'Warm Up with the Sticky Kids' CD is a particular favourite of mine! At first, the children are a little reluctant to join in, but when they see the adults taking part, they soon jump up and begin to move around the room. It's hypnotising to watch children move around in their own way - bottom shuffling along the floor, clapping, kicking, stomping, crawling, walking, still on very unsteady legs - all so different, but still developing together. This is enough to put a smile on anybody's face!
After our work-out, we are all very relieved to sit down and have a drink and snack. No rest for me though! It's time to set up the room for the children to play later. Thinking about the children's interests, I enhance each area with interesting and mainly open-ended resources and give the room a quick vacuum, ready for the next lot of fun and games. I update each child's daily diary and write the notes for the parents to see in the evening. Now, for more play time with my toddlers - I wonder what they will think of when they see the small world scene with animals and the leaves and twigs I have set up in the big tray.... sure enough they love it!
The doorbell rings - it's a parent of one of the children in my key group. I welcome them in and the children get very excited to see who's at the door! I explain what we've had for lunch and snacks and then talk about our adventures, not forgetting to share the masterpiece that her child created earlier that afternoon!
4.30pm - after a very busy and fun-filled day, it's time for me to go home; I wonder what tomorrow's adventures will bring?