Pumpkin's rant of the day: Childcare Factories
December 6, 2015 2:32pm CST
As some of you may know, I currently work through an agency as a teaching assistant/nursery nurse. I don't like my job, I don't like children, and the sooner I finish my studies so I can find a different job, the better. Well, there are one or two places I've worked which aren't too awful. It's a shame that they are in the minority of places I get work. I'm usually sent to private nurseries. You see, there are schools which are OK because it's set hours, set breaks, and children who, in the main, can speak and understand plain English. There is (in the main) routine, although, apart from the SEN schools, I don't always know what's expected of me. There are children's centres which are OK because they are run mainly for the benefit of the children. Then there are private nurseries. I've worked in one which wasn't truly awful. Well, two but one of them was run through the college mainly for their own staff and students, so I don't know whether it counts as a private nursery or not. Anyway, I can say that most of the private nurseries I've been to are horrible. Perhaps I'm already biased because I don't like the idea of them, and I'm of the opinion that there shouldn't be a need for so many of them. Well, I won't go into details or get into arguments about why I think that. I will, however, say that, when I say 'childcare factories', it is to this type of nursery rather than a nursery school/school/children's centre because, frankly, that is how most of them are run - like a factory. As I said, I have worked in some horrible places but where I was last week, well, I was not at all surprised to see someone there regarding an investigation after complaints had been made about the nursery. I don't know quite how to explain it all but let me give you a few ideas about it: There are broken toys. This, in itself, isn't always a problem. What is a problem is when the toys are so easily breakable, and they are/become dangerous. A toy telephone where the dial and receiver are detached when they were previously attached, for example, that's not really a problem. A drum with a handle where the handle is loose, however, that is a problem when said handle is loosely held on with a clearly visible small screw. Some of the toys are supposedly appropriate for the age group (in the case, age 2-3) but, while kids get into scrapes and are expected to hurt themselves sometimes as part of their learning, it's not good when their favourite game is 'knocking stuff over and throwing heavy objects'. There are violent children in there. Some have been going there long enough (and are capable/old enough) to have learned how to behave properly. There is, however, absolutely no discipline. I'll come back to that later. The room is an odd shape. That can't be helped, of course, but it does make it difficult for staff to be able to observe the whole room. This wouldn't be a problem if the staff were any good. There are (or at least there should be) enough staff in the room to have one person in each area. It seems, however, that the deputy manager (I'll call her L), who is usually working in the room, spends more time wandering about or chatting with other staff members. Up until my attempt at disciplining a child, L was paying no attention to any of the children. The room is always dark and dingy. It's always messy and dirty when I go in. Obviously, mess is to be expected from toddlers but, given the amount of mess that's there, it's clear that the children are not encouraged to tidy up properly and the staff do a half-hearted job. This is clear by the fact that, even before the children have touched the toys, there are totally random collections of bits of toys thrown into different boxes and baskets. I try to tidy but I can't work out where anything goes. As I said, mess - up to a point - is to be expected. A certain amount of dirt (if kids have dropped food on the floor or drawn on a table or something) is understandable. It is not understandable to have trodden-in Play-Doh all over the carpet (I've never seen the kids play with Play-Doh), a carpet which looks as if it has never seen a hoover, children's toy furniture with writing/drawing all over it which had been done with something which, had it been cleaned, would have come off easily before staining. Did I mention that some of the children are violent? Well, there are two particularly naughty children. Most of them fight with each other, argue over toys, and are generally quite bratty. I don't mean 'normal' terrible twos or whatever. Then again, even those who do the terrible two stuff don't get told off for it. Apart from the fact that people seem to forget that two year olds will continuing acting like two year olds until they're taught not to. It's no good saying 'well, they're only two, they'll grow out of it' because, with exception, kids don't just magically grow out of certain behaviours. They need to be taught. A two year old with no discipline, who is allowed to act like a two year old 'because they're two' and not told that their behaviour is unacceptable, that's going to turn into a teenager who thinks they can get away with anything because they have been allowed to. Excuse me, I went into full rant mode then and forgot my point. Ah yes, discipline. Part of the problem with discipline in private nurseries is, well, there are a few things - good discipline starts at home and, I may conduct an experiment on this in the future, from my experience, the parents of a lot of these children don't do it. I also believe, particularly with the kids who spend most of their time at private nursery, that parents are soft and don't want to tell kids off because they feel guilty about not spending enough time with them - or they simply don't know how to interact with the child because they've not learned to do so. The third problem is the nambypamby attitude of people. There are some rules which make sense. Some which do not. I wouldn't, for example, smack any child in a nursery (as tempted as I might be to do so) but I would pick up a child and remove them from where they are if they are causing trouble. According to this nursery, however, that is 'being too rough'. Yes, L had paid no attention whatsoever to a particular child's behaviour but then she managed to see around the corner as I held on to him in an attempt to get him to a) stop climbing, and b) put away the toys he'd just tipped all over the floor. Well, if I were L, I would have asked what the child had done and backed up any member of staff. Instead, L told me not to be rough while completely ignoring the behaviour. The child was not asked to tidy up. He was also left, later on, to continue climbing and he decided to kick over large items of home corner furniture. At this point, I chose to ignore him. There were no other children in the area so I decided it wasn't my problem and, given L's attitude, nothing I could/would have done would have been welcome anyway. The most ridiculous thing about discipline (not just in this nursery) is not being allowed to use the word 'naughty'. I can understand not saying 'you are naughty' to a child because that's labelling, and children do often live up to their label. I don't, however, understand why we can't say 'that was a naughty thing to do'. No, we have to say 'silly'. Of all the words, that makes even less sense. Silly means silly. Silly doesn't mean naughty. If a child is called silly at home, it is likely to be for something that's actually silly (funny, daft, telling a joke, bumping into stuff because they're not looking where they're going, etc). So, when they're told they are silly at nursery, it's not really surprising that some of the kids laugh and continue whatever they are doing, or smile before they do it the next time. They think it's silly. They don't know it's naughty. Except some of them do. You can see in their evil little faces that they are about to upset someone and they know full well what they're doing. I've had a child deliberately push a pile of large wooden blocks over onto me (actually, at least two different children have done that). I've had another child spit in my face (regardless of the terrible twos business, it's not normal for a toddler to spit in people's faces). That is behaviour that they have witnessed, it isn't a natural thing for a toddler to do. Oh and I have been punched in the face. Sometimes that could be accidental but it's usually obvious (by how hard it is/position of hands/look on child's face) whether or not it is deliberate. There are also a few children there who have special needs. It's not clear whether those needs have been identified. As I said to the lady doing an investigation, I have not been given any information regarding any SEN children. As it happens, I'm pretty good with that sort of thing but that's really beside the point. Well, it's not really. If they knew (I don't know if they do because I don't know what information the agency gives when I'm sent to places) then it would make sense to tell me anyway. Some of the bratty kids are just brats, nothing 'wrong' with them at all, other than a lack of parenting/social skills/discipline/acceptable adult role model. There is one boy though who quite obviously has additional needs. He mostly gets ignored. I won't go into too much detail about that but there have been a couple of incidents where I've basically done what nobody else could (or, more likely, they just couldn't be bothered) but last time he was there when I was, he fell asleep on me. He missed lunch because he was sleeping and I have a feeling that the other staff members in toddler room actually forgot about him as he'd been sleeping in baby room. Well, that's the basics. Some of the staff are rude and unnecessarily abrupt. I feel sorry for one of the staff. She's very young and not very confident. It seems she's not been given the guidance she needs, she's not been shown procedures or how to complete documents. I get the feeling that she just does the 'routine' stuff like setting tables for meal times and cleaning up afterwards. I don't think she really knows what else is expected of her. Friday, I wasn't in the toddler room much. I was mostly in preschool room with four and five year olds. That was OK because they're mostly well-behaved but, again, the one child in there with special needs mostly seems to get ignored (although not as much as those in toddler room). The staff member I worked with in preschool is OK. She has an annoying voice but I won't hold that against her. I will, however, hold it against her that she was whinging about it being cold outside. It's winter in England, what did you expect? I did notice that most of the staff seem quite whiny. I just rant here and in a Facebook group! I am working at the same nursery this week. I am absolutely not looking forward to it. I have worked in places where I've said I would prefer not to go back, or I don't like. This one, I honestly considered refusing to do, and saying that I wouldn't work there. I did wonder, especially considering that I'd previously been in a nice nursery where I knew they would need someone last week, whether they asked me to do this one because nobody else would.
6 people like this
• Roseburg, Oregon
6 Dec 15
That place sounds really bad. I am surprised the state has not shut them down. I ran a home day care for twenty years and was told what nice well behaved children I had every where I went. I was the boss and I was in charge and I had a waiting list.
1 person likes this
• United Kingdom
6 Dec 15
I think a large part of the problem is the number of people who go into the business as a business or because they think it's an easy job. There aren't enough people like yourself. I also think that it's a bit of 'pass the responsibility' rather than working together. From what I've seen, it must take a lot to shut a place down. I think the rules are different with private nurseries. If it had been a state nursery, I could have reported it to Ofsted but, as it's private, it's a bit more complicated. From tomorrow, I am going to detail anything I see and pass it on to my agency.
• United Kingdom
10 Dec 15
I think it's a shame that there is such a need for so many childcare places, and that it's now the assumed/usual thing that people will go back to work. But that's another story! Some of the places here have quite plain food. The one I was talking about here, they have OK food but the portion sizes are too big and the puddings are usually unsuitable and unnecessarily large