Monthly Archives: March 2010

Top 10 Reasons for Managing an Early Years Setting

1. Knowing you are making a difference in young lives

2. Unlimited hugs and smiles

3. After retirement, at the nursing home, you will know over 300 craft projects to make from empty toilet tissue rolls.

4. If you live near your work, you’ll know the future generations of  newspaper deliverers, cashiers etc.

5. When insomnia strikes, you alone can recite pages of statutory regulations until you nod off from sheer boredom.

6. An encyclopaedic knowledge of Ben Ten, the Ninky Nonks, Fifi, Peppa Pig, Thomas the Tank Engine etc etc.

7. Having a ready repertoire that include s over 100 children’s stories, songs, and fingerplays.

8. Your abilities include plumbing skills… i.e., you’ve never met a toilet you couldn’t unclog.

9. The first to know when the current flu epidemic hits.

10. Having beautiful, young children in your life Monday through Friday, but your evenings and weekends are free! (unless you babysit – see previous post)

Run in to Easter

Just to keep our hand in this past weekend, we babysat our friends’ wonderful and very precious twin boys. It was mum and dad’s first time away without them. Thankfully they had a great time and so did we. It has been many years since our eldest 2 were baby twins and we did have a renewed appreciation of how tiring it can be – lots of nappies, feeds etc. but the boys were absolutely lovely.

As one of my colleagues says, when promoting the role of men in early years, the question should be what are the benefits for men, not just what are the benefits for children. It really is a privilege to be involved in the lives of children and great fun. 

Produced a new A5 leaflet today on safeguarding children guidance for visitors. I was pleased with the results. Ok, so I pinched most of the contents from our local school but I did adapt it for us. I think Ofsted might like it.

It’s a shorter working week running up to Good Friday. On Wednesday, we are off to Wareham to speak at a CWDC event on the benefits of employing an Early Years Professional, then on Thursday it’s our whole staff Away Day. We are all looking forward to this opportunity to be together and hope it will be another positive experience.  On top of our ‘Love, Laughter and Learning’, we will be considering another ‘L’  – Listening : to children, to parents and to each other. And then in the afternoon we have a surprise in store! I’ll let you know how it goes.


Extract from a Year 1 R.E. book –         

 Thank you God.  Thank you for the stars in the sky at night,

Thank you for the bread we eat that makes our trousers tight.  :0)

E (3 year old boy) told me at lunch today about his helicopter DVD where a man jumped off the bottom of a ladder and landed on the ground but he didn’t hurt himself. Two children called out ‘Hello David-Wavid!’ and laughed hysterically, as you do, and another boy opened his mouth very wide to reveal a half eaten sausage and beans inside, whilst pointing to a clean plate. I got the message. ‘What a good eater you are,’ I replied.

What makes a good team?  There are loads of courses on this sort of thing but I think it just comes down to getting on with each other. Sometimes it seems we don’t see each other’s point of view, we don’t talk and we let things fester. Sometimes I have to deal with situations where scenarios from the past are replayed and it is evident that things that are no issue at all in the retelling, have  somehow been built into a subconcious mountain. And I can’t help thinking how sad it is that energy, time and emotion are wasted on brooding, harbouring grudges and feelings of low self worth. 

Watching children running, climbing, sharing, snatching, making noise, laughing, crying, delighting in activities, I can’t help wondering where we lose that ability to live in the moment and start interpreting and worrying about the consequences of past actions and what might befall us in the future. When are we happiest?  Isn’t it probably when we are able to be child like again and live in the moment? 

How very deep for a Friday afternoon!    



Back last year, a nursery in Italy contacted us out of the blue to ask if we would like to link up with them – their children talking to ours and vice versa, over the internet using skype.  It has been a great success. Once a week, usually, we arrange  a call. The Italian children practice their English – they are 4 and 5 year olds! This puts us to shame but it is still a very useful exercise, our children practising speaking and listening skills as well as personal and social development.

For the staff member involved there are a couple of variables, namely –

Technology – this is usually ok. Skype is pretty easy to use as long as the camera, speakers and microphone are all plugged in, switched on and working. Broadband sometimes comes and goes but that’s out of our control.

Children – so you are managing the conversation with the Italian end and you have 3 little ones sat with you – 1 gets bored and wanders off, 2 decide to make farty noises and jump up and down or they all sit there transfixed and decide not to say anything at all. Choose your children carefully! and make sure there is someone available to assist in crowd control.

Discussions range across the weather, pets, favourite foods (pasta and pizza in UK and Italy), holidays, brothers and sisters, favourite activities.  On one ocassion recently, a little girl told her mum when she was being collected that children in Italy had sung happy birthday to her that day, and we had to explain that this was actually true!

When we first started, I talked very slowly and clearly to the nursery worker at the other end, and she replied in the broadest Australian accent! 

Overall skype is a great way to experience more of the world.  We can also use it between our own nurseries, so children can make some new friends.

Annoying Tunes

There’s always one stuck in your head isn’t there? Where does it come from? – ‘If you’re happy and you know it shout Paint Pots!’, ‘Five little speckled frogs’, ‘Row, row, row ….’, ‘wind the bobbin up’. And why do children never tire of them?  Eventually of course they move on to the next room, the next set of songs but we seem to stick with the tried and tested favourites. We are hoping to unearth some creative talents in our staff this year to produce some home grown catchy little numbers. I did one for the flu bug  (now a distant memory – the swine flu and the song!) :

Tune (Frere Jacques)

Find a tissue, find a tissue

Blow your nose, blow your nose

Put it in the bin please, put it in the bin please

Wash your hands, wash your hands

Nothing wrong with using other people’s tunes – there’s a great tradition of it.  Let’s get some new songs out there Britain!!

Round Table Discussion

Well it was square table actually and there were several of them. Interested parties were in attendance to discuss the findings from the CWDC commissioned update on Men in Early Years, produced by the Daycare Trust. (Still very confidential and not to be revealed here!)

The day had started early – Mrs W rose at 5:40ish (a positive lie in for her!). Number 1 son had stayed up all night finishing an essay. My brother in law had posted in a copy of the local Echo on his way home from night shift, printing the paper (his job) and having spotted a full page ad from the CWDC inviting applications for EYPS, featuring a picture of yours truly, painting with some children. Number 1 son decided I would like to read it at 5:45, so that was my getting up time.   

Arriving in the capital, I had a very pleasant stroll from Waterloo Station to Southwark Bridge. In the meeting, it was a good opportunity to catch up with some familiar faces and meet some new ones. There was a very positive attitude and some helpful discussions but I’m not sure anything very concrete came out of it in the end.  Was it worth a day trip to London? Probably

Mending Things

Thought I’d pinch this from the Times Ed, as it made me laugh – 

A teacher was recently marking year 5 science mini-SATs and came across this…

 Question: Chocolate and butter come out of the fridge, how do they feel?

 Answer:   Scared and upset

It must have been a while since I repaired something wooden as I couldn’t find the wood glue. I had to climb on a shelf (health & safety!) and rummage in a box of useful things,in the dark. It was at the bottom of course. I had brought home a station for a brio train set and Noah’s Ark, both in 2 pieces. I had to sand the ark, drill some holes and screw and glue it back together. This morning, I returned them to the Toddlers room, very proud of my efforts. The children seemed to appreciate it.  

On Monday I am going to London for a hush-hush discussion with the Daycare Trust on a paper they are publishing about Men in Childcare.  Their recommendations seem very encouraging. I am really looking forward to it.  More later.

A Talk in Wareham

The CWDC have asked husband and wife Early Years Professional Team , Mrs W and myself to talk at a local event to 30 or so childcare settings leaders. We have been asked for a synopsis of our talk on the aubject of ‘What are the benefits of employing an EYP in your setting?” I have taken as my starting point, a recent letter in Nursery World that ruffled my feathers which stated that PVI settings will naturally focus on profit, often compromising quality.’  I actually read something similar in a text book for students last year!  This resulted in a dialogue with the publisher and indirectly the author, resulting in a semi-promise to rewrite the offending phrase – apparently I had misinterpreted what was written! 

So, back to the talk, hopefully we can win over the crowd by agreeing with them that there are easier ways to make money and that we do actually care about children otherwise why would we put in all these hours?  And EYPs – well we have 2 of them (myself and the better half) and we do employ another male – he’s great (apart from the Star Trek obsession :0)  and we have another couple in the making. Does this make a difference? We like to think so, and that is no way to denigrate the excellent work of the rest of our team. Having a graduate lead workforce and specifically leadership of the curriculum across all nurseries, does, we feel, improve the experience for our children and the quality of our provision. I wonder how this argument will go down with the CWDC?  and the Wareham crowd?  I’ll let you know.

Babies Lunches

It could probably be classed as a new art movement- the majestic sweep of umber, brown and white across a clean canvass, followed by shocking purple splashes. I am sure it could sell for millions. The only trouble is we would need to saw through the floor and transport it to wherever. Yes, it’s babies lunch, that celebration of independence skills, wobbly forks and spoons grappling with spaghetti, mince and tomato sauce, each little cheek becoming rosier with the growing orangey tomato stain. For pudding today we had a bright purple sorbet (blackcurrant maybe?). The resulting colour combinations were spectacular.

On balance, I would say there was more food in children than on them or the table, chairs, soft furnishings and floor but it did take a lot of careful cleaning of children, clothes and surfaces. There is seemingly no easy way to retrieve cold spaghetti from the floor. It sticks to a broom or squashes more onto the lino and a mop just seems to move it about. Maybe there’s a gap in the cleaning market here – a patented cold spaghetti cleaner-upper.  Any thoughts?

Dinosaurs, Ice Cream and Shootings

It must be something about being a man, as it doesn’t seem to happen to the women. Whenever I appear, the plastic dinosaurs, farm animals, sharks or whatever are invariably making their way to my head – usually to bounce on it, chew my ear, eat my receding hair or to remove my eyes (all pretend you understand). This morning I was offered a chocolate and vanilla ice cream made out of a large ball of screwed up paper. As I opened my mouth to pretend eat it, it was pretend splatted on my head and I was told there was ice cream dribling all over me. Another pretend ice cream appeared which was pretend thrust into my ear. ‘You have ice cream coming out of your ear,’ someone said and then of course there were several other ice creams in my pocket, in my face and 1 inside my shirt. At that moment, S and C appeared with stickle-bricks guns they had just manufactured. ‘We are real soldiers,’ they informed me, ‘and we are shooting you.’  What should I do, die or carry on trying to lick up all this ice cream? Like the coward I am, I went to answer the door bell. There’s only so much you can take on a Monday morning.  When I came back, the female staff members were still engaged in their various activities with different groups of enthusiastic children – cutting out, reading, sticking etc. How come none of them were being killed or set upon by wild beasts, ice cream or wild children?!