Back in the glorious heat of July I was luckily to be invited to spend a day helping out at Little G’s nursery. The staff were keen to get a parent to go ‘undercover’ (well not really as everyone knew I was there!) but to see what I thought of the nursery by experiencing it in a different light, rather than just drop off and pick up time.
I felt like I was starting a new job and was a little apprehensive before hand. It was on one of the hottest days of the year so I was even anxious about what to wear (to stay cool but to be practical). As it was, once I was there, I had barely time to think about me as my entire focus from then on was on a group of ‘Teenies’…little toddlers…inquisitive and funny little ones (about 14 months to about 2 and half depending on their skills). I had a quick introduction where I was shown the time-table of everything that happens during the day and was then asked to shadow one of the ‘aunties’ I knew well (a favourite with Little G when she was in that room*).
My first important task of the day was during garden time. I was told to stand by the climbing frame and catch them if they fall. No pressure at all! The staff said they encourage the children’s independence, but of course they can get stuck or slip, particularly the smaller ones. My other important tasks as the day developed included:
- Helping all the children to wash and dry their hands before lunch.
- Building a few towers, that got immediately knocked down (whoop!).
- Reading quite a few books to an ever growing audience.
- Starting a ‘Teenies Band’…there was me on lead vocals and lead guitar (I believe it was yellow), then I had a drummer (on bongos), a teenie piano player and another one on guitar. Our hit song of the day was a rock version of ‘one, two, three…Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star’…cue lots of requests for ‘more!‘.
- Helping the children go to sleep after lunch…in a very hot room.
- Helping the children ‘come to’ after they woke up…cue lots of cuddles with gorgeous sleepy children.
- Ensuring the children held the bannisters when going up and down the stairs.
- Oh and on my final afternoon visit to the garden, I didn’t hover by the climbing frame like an anxious helicopter parent as earlier but I swung the children round off a wooden bench to the floor…’again!‘, ‘me too!‘. I started with the smaller ones, but the bigger children spotted the fun and lined up to go flying too (so sadly my back suffered and I could barely move the next day, but it was worth it).
The nursery is run like a well-oiled machine with incredibly caring staff focused on doing the best for the children. I saw ‘challenging‘ children well dealt with in appropriate ways…and by challenging I mean the ones who hit, to the ones that were too clingy. I was very impressed by the utter calm the staff seemed to exude in every situation and the cheeriness that they carried throughout the day (not just at drop off and pick up time I’m pleased to share).
I was also utterly charmed by the children. I’m usually not a fan of ‘other people’s’ (if you know what I mean), but I loved getting to know these children and being focused on building their trust over the day. I had to work harder to get the trust of the suspicious ones, rather than the immediately self-confident smiley ones, and that challenge I truly relished. It was these children who regarded me as the ‘strange lady‘ at the beginning of the day, but who’d joined the ‘Teenies Band’ in the afternoon, who I was most sad to say good-bye too.
I did feel genuinely sad saying good-bye to these gorgeous children and I even thought, is it too late for a career change? I loved being with the children and watching them and learning from them…and I really thought our band could have gone somewhere too. Thanks to the nursery for allowing me this lovely insight.
* I didn’t help out in Little G’s room, but I did visit her at lunch time for a little cuddle. She was very cool and totally understood that I was helping with the Teenies…because they are little and need help. Ah, she makes me proud (and she’s definitely in the suspicious child camp!).