I’ll be totally honest. Looking after other people’s children does not appeal to me. I sometimes find it hard enough looking after mine! The noise, the mess, keeping them occupied and the constant different versions of the common cold(!)
However, I drop my eldest off at nursery two days a week and see the smiling faces of the staff that greet her. I pick her up at the end of the day and am given an enthusiastic account of what she has been up to, what she has eaten and what she has achieved. I owe one of the girls from her nursery all credit for getting my daughter to poo on the potty!!
I was fascinated. These staff genuinely do love it and when the Co-Operative Nursery in Leamington Spa invited me over to spend some time with them to find out why, I was really keen. So off me and Piglet went on our journey of nursery working discovery!!
A Typical Day
We spent around 3 hours (or until little Piglet was getting ready for her dinner and a nap) at the nursery. I was keen to go around each of the rooms for the different age groups and get a feel for what happens behind the scenes.
I went into the baby room first which is 6 weeks to walking age. It was a cute and cool environment and the little ones were either sleeping or having a snack. The room made it very easy for the babies to crawl, climb and explore with climbing areas and a sandpit, cushions and toys.
Little Piglet got right in there and had a bread stick. It got me all choked thinking about her going to nursery in September.
It was lovely to see both male and female staff working at the nursery and to get a male’s perspective of working with children. Staff explained to me that some of the children have no father figure in their lives and spend a lot of time at the nursery; male staff can therefore make such a difference and be a really positive influence.
I’ll talk a little more about the staff’s thoughts later on in the post.
The baby room was very relaxed and staff explained to me there is a basic routine to the day but they tend to follow the individual baby’s routines. There was a lot of cuddling and play time and it was lovely to watch; very reassuring for any parent leaving a child with someone else for the day. The babies seemed very comfortable and happy in their surroundings.
I remember when my eldest started nursery and we were all so poorly so I was keen to know if the staff are. They told me at first, yes they do pick up a few bugs but after a while they are fine!
The Bigger Room (Age 1-2)
After spending time with the babies we moved to the next room which was with slightly older children, age 1-2 years. This was a busy, active room with around 14 children present. There was lots to do including a large sand pit.
Each staff member was looking after 3 children and they were given free reign to play, climb and dress up. As expected there were some tumbles and upset and the children got comforted and cuddled, before starting to play again. Again, this is lovely as you want to know you little one is getting lots of hugs, especially if upset.
It was lovely to chat to the staff. One of the staff members told me how it had always been her dream to work with children and she went into it straight from college. She wanted a role she could enjoy.
There was a lovely area for them to have a snooze too.
The children in this room move about during the day and were taken up to a soft play area upstairs. This gave them some variety to the day.
The Toddlers (Age 2-3)
We managed to go and have a look in the next age up before my little Piglet was starting to get tired and cranky. All the children were sat on the mat singing songs before their dinner. It was a lovely atmosphere and all staff were joining in. They were encouraged to sing and get involved before washing their hands ready for lunch.
At this point my little one was getting a little upset being left on the mat! All the children sat down and were given a very tasty pasta lunch, which they all looked to devour.
We thought it was time to make an exit and did not get chance to have a look at the final pre-school room for the 3-5 year olds.
Why Work in a Nursery?
Every member of staff I spoke to showed a genuine love for their job and passion for working with children. Most had always knew they had wanted to work with children from a young age but there were other staff members who had stumbled into childcare accidentally and had never looked back. Some had their first baby and knew working with children was for them.
One of the biggest positives for most staff was seeing the children achieving their milestones and being part of this.
Some quotes I took from the staff about why they wanted to work with children:
“You get so much out of it. It is very rewarding. In the baby room, you see their first steps and personalities appearing.”
“It’s lovely to make a difference and be part of their journey, as some of the children are with us 5 days a week.”
“It’s lovely watching the children learn and develop and get ready for school.”
Qualifications and Career Progression
Staff explained to me how fantastic the Co-Operative were for training and encouraging staff to further develop their careers. It is a very supportive environment.
Some staff begin unqualified but are pushed very early on to study for their NVQ Level 3 in Early Years Education.
There is the option to stay working with the same age group or work between rooms with children of different ages and there is good promotion within the nurseries.
Staff typically work around 40 hours a week but will work some days longer and then have a half day off, which is good for flexibility.
Pay wise unqualified staff begin at £8.22 an hour, which increases to £8.72 for qualified staff members.
Advice to anyone thinking about working with Children
I asked the staff what advice they would give to anyone wanting a career in childcare.
“You need lots of patience and need to have had experience being around children a lot. Be open minded and very positive.”
To any men thinking about this.
“DON’T be put off. There aren’t any stereotypes so go for it!”
I found the whole experience very eye opening. All the staff were happy, keen and motivated. The children seemed settled and relaxed. It really made me see the benefits of working in childcare and how rewarding it is as a career. It also made me happy and reassured to see how well cared for the children were, especially if they need some extra love if upset.
About This Post
I was kindly invited to the Co-Operative Nursery in Leamington Spa and paid for my time. I was allowed to chat freely to the stuff but unable to take any photographs of the children myself. All thoughts and opinions about the day are my own.