Things you are not told – behind the scenes of a Private Day Nursery

I have always loved children and from a very young age I knew that working with Children was what I wanted to do.  In the fifth year at Secondary School for work experience I chose to go to a Nursery School for the week – loving every minute of it.  School choices were from then on were geared around my love of Children – even though I wasn’t sure at that age what I wanted to do Career wise.  I chose Health & Social Care Advanced GNVQ in the 6th Form spending all my placement time in Schools, then off to College I went to complete my DNN (Diploma in Nursery Nursing).

Straight out of College I got a job as a Nursery Nurse in a Day Nursery in Hertford, now while I loved the Children, the Parents and most of the staff (I won’t tell you I got on with them all as that never happens) I actually hated the job.  It was the restrictivness of the job itself I hated, everything was so regimented: Breakfast 7.30-8.15am, Lunch 12.30-1pm, Garden time – 20 minutes morning, 20 minutes afternoon etc.

Well it just so happened that I was in the toddler room which I loved however imagine the scene:  It’s the height of Summer 2001 (heat wave!!! a proper Summer) the windows in our room do not open more than a crack, one side of the room is full glass making it extremely hot, we are not allowed fans in the room due to Health & Safety and our garden time was straight after lunch this particular week, so lunch finishes, we tidy up the lunch bits, put the Children’s outside shoes on, re-apply sun-cream, hats etc go into the garden and 10 minutes later come in again…hardly fair on the children is it?

As a mum now we often play in the garden all day long – Sandpit, Water play, garden toys, picnics, parks etc.. we love it.  The hot weather this week made me remember that Nursery and how unfair it was on the Children, yes they had a good time while there (most of the time) however it’s not the ideal place for young children. (I’m not saying this about all Nurseries – just speaking from my experience of this Nursery.) We often spent more time on paper-work, cleaning and other jobs that the Children had to amuse themselves for large parts of the day – NOT what the parents are paying lots of money for!!

The final straw came when our Nursery Cook was repeatedly off sick, now you would expect a temporary cook to be brought in wouldn’t you – well no, the Nursery Nurses were made to go into the kitchen for the day to cook.  Most of us had been through college so had Food Hygiene Certificates but not all of us, there were unqualified members of staff too.  However none of us were trained Cooks,  none of us knew what we were doing 100% in that kitchen and  none of us should have been there in the first place let alone find ourselves having to cook for 60 Children from ages 6 months – 5 years with varying dietary requirements from Gluten Free, Vegetarian to Children with Nut allergies – thats before you think of the different portion sizes for the different ages and blending food for weaning babies, chopping for 1 year olds etc.

The turn over of staff in my particular nursery was really high as we were on minimum wage, straight out of College or some straight our of School and generally knew no better.  I stayed for exactly 1 year as I did love the Children and the Parents and made great friendships with many of them, infact I still see some and Babysit for some of them, well the younger sibling as the Chilren I looked after then are now young adults (that makes me feel quite old).  On the day I left that Nursery 6 other members of staff left too.

I’m not saying Day Nurseries are bad places – the Children enjoyed themselves, however behind closed doors all is not always as it seems and I feel that smaller Nurseries maybe a better environment for young children.  Obviously this doesn’t go for all Nurseries and is just my experience, so do not let me put you off.

I then went onto Nannying which I absolutely loved and I will tell you more about that in the future.

10 thoughts on “Things you are not told – behind the scenes of a Private Day Nursery

  1. It is a worry isn't it? I worried about my daughter's nursery when I went in and saw a girl crying and no one was comforting her. She had been crying for her parents all day apparently. They're so expensive as well.
    I know a lot of places are brilliant though.

  2. I went for a childminder for my son (costs the same where I am), as this is what I imagined that a nursery would be like. I actually went for a trial afternoon to work at an after-school club a few weeks ago and was appalled with it. I hate how people monopolise on the need for childcare. To me what I saw felt like it's all about making money and not about what is best for the kids.

  3. I worked in a very similar sounding nursery and have been thinking about writing about what some of these places are like behind the scenes…It's certainly put me off sending my kids to nursery to be honest, I just hope I can afford to stay at home with them so that I don't have to.

  4. Gosh I'm glad we're out of it then. GG had 2 years in nursery and she did enjoy it, but then she's a pretty independent spirit, and it was a good nursery. But I do remember her key worker once frowning at me and saying 'she's very strong-willed, it will be good for her when she's an adult'. I wasn't too thrilled!

  5. None of this seems shocking to me at all. Molly has been in 2 nurseries a large chain and a small private one. The large one was actually far better – regardless of rules and regulations and paperwork she enjoyed her time there more.

  6. Thanks for the insight! My daughter's pre-school is very small so they are able to be more flexible (at least I think so). I can just imagine how hard it must be for staff these days with all the Health & Safety restrictions and the huge amount of guidelines they must follow.
    Great blog!

  7. Your nursery sounds absolutely nothing like the one Callum is in.

    "As a mum now we often play in the garden all day long"
    I can't afford a nanny and going out to work is what allows me to keep a roof over our heads and also to do nice things. You are lucky to be able to do this.

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