Friday 11th January 2013 – This day was bound to happen sooner or later   4 comments

I have written many blogs about;

  • the government ideas about deregulation and increased ratio’s
  •  the exception I have applied to to care for 5 children under five
  • my daily practice with those 5 under fives and the experiences offered.

And basically my message has been the same

  • there are exceptional circumstances as to why I have applied this exception – which are to continue to provide continuity of care for the children who have all been in my care for two years now. (Please see link to blog Bye, bye variations, hello exceptions as this gives the reasons for the exception and Ofsted’s reply when I checked with them that I had understood the EYFS 12 correctly) 
  • I was under no illusion that it would be easy- and this blog post looks at the long term impact  link to blog about reality of looking after 5 children under five
  • I knew that there would be difficult days

Well on Friday that day came – the difficult day

I know I have been very lucky and apart from a couple of minor difficulties during daily practice – the children and I have had a ‘smooth run’ since September, and there are numerous blog posts on here about our experiences.

Before I start writing about the day – I want to make it very clear this is not about the children I care for or their families – this is about life and childcare and the problems that can arise when ONE person has sole  responsibility  for FIVE children.

(and although I don’t work in a group care setting – my past experiences / job roles mean that I know increasing ratio’s in group care will have similar issues)

I also need to make it clear at no time were the children at risk of harm – but opportunities were lost, experiences provided were not used to the full potential and it was not a very positive day for myself (Penny) or the children.

I shall not be naming the children for particular actions – but because I blog so often and always have the same children on a Friday –  I shall name them and give their ages;

Alex 2 yr 11m

Shona 2yr 11m

Erin   A week shy of 3 yrs

Chinzia 3yrs  8m

Archie 2yrs 8m

None of the children have any additional needs, none of them are currently on medication, none of them have experienced major change or trauma at home, all have been attending the setting for around 2 years (some a bit more, some a bit less), all are developing very well and meeting or exceeding expectations for their age group.

So – why was Friday 11th of January a difficult day?

Simple really –  four of the five children were for whatever reason not their usual selves – they were disruptive and argumentative,  they did not engage in free play,(home area, mirror house,  dressing up, heuristic play, wooden cars) they did not engage with activities / experiences offered (story, light box, light toys, puzzles, dancing), they did not want to go outside.

Only two things interested them – watching a DVD (one about numbers involving lots of music) and right at the end of the day a sticker activity (making pictures out of shape and other stickers)

Of course over the last 3 months there have been days when one or even two of the children have had days like this – days that Penny describes as ‘Nothing Right Days’ BUT up to now have not experienced THREE children having ‘Nothing Right Days PLUS ONE child in a teasing mood and taking advantage of the other children’s behaviour.

The noise level was deafening, toys were broken through misuse, friends were hurt – and sometimes on purpose, hazards were constantly having to be removed (mainly tidying up due to things been tipped or thrown everywhere) behaviour management was difficult as no sooner finishing supporting  one child (or even before had resolved one issue) when another child needed supporting – and instead of listening and adapting behaviour, as they usually do,  the children just cried or screamed or went and repeated the unwanted behaviour again and again. We ended up in a never ending circle – which was draining for Penny and for the children.

The only positive thing was that all 5 children had a nap after lunch – giving Penny a short break to re charge her batteries.

As to  what was unsettling the children / changing their normal excellent behaviour and enjoyment of both free play and activities / experiences?

Only guess work really

– we have had a child with Chicken Pox – and as is unavoidable the children attending were in contact before the spots came out (of course normal exclusion applied once we knew child had Chicken Pox) – so maybe they are incubating Chicken Pox

– maybe they are coming down with a cold – or another as yet unknown illness

– maybe they were all just having an ‘off’ day’

– maybe they were just tired, it was Friday after all.

– maybe – as if often the case with two and three years olds they were just testing boundaries?

Who knows – but what I do know is all children can have days like this  – some children have far more ‘Nothing Right Days’ than the children in my care do.

Days like this are normal in childcare settings – which is one of the reason there is such a protest about the governments idea that ratio’s could be relaxed, because I have not forgot (and I guess any early years practitioner reading this has not forgot) there was a fifth child attending on Friday – and that child was NOT having a ‘Nothing Right Day’ – that child was having a perfectly normal day behaviour wise

BUT

That fifth child was not have a perfectly normal day in terms of activities, experiences and opportunities at Penny’s Place.

And herein lies the problem – the more children in your care – the greater the chance that one or more of them will be having a ‘Nothing Right Day’ and therefore the greater the chance that the other children attending will experience less opportunities and have less adult input – in other words the adults will be busy dealing with the children who are having ‘Nothing Right Days’.

Now the children in Penny’s Care are not normally like this, normally they all experience outstanding care and education (Ofsted’s judgment)

BUT what you have to ask would happen if one or more of the children were;

new to the setting and needing support with settling in?

had an additional need (identified or not)?

was going through change at home – new sibling, parent separation, death, new house and so on?

was a young baby who was teething and needed physical comforting ?

or any of the many other reasons that may result in a child having  a ‘Nothing Right Day’ or just needing that adults one pair of hands / eyes /ears more than the other children.

Some of you maybe wondering why I have been so honest about a less than perfect day at Penny’s Place

– well for a start I am always honest, I always say it as it is (so none of the children’s parents will be surprise to read this – they already know)

– It is real life – no one likes to give a negative picture of their setting and I am guessing few would be brave enough (or maybe mad enough?) to write about a less than perfect day as I have here (although they will of course discuss within the setting if a group setting or self reflect if a childminder)  BUT it does happen.

HOWEVER the main reason for writing this blog is that I hope that it will add weight to the argument that increased ratio’s are not a good idea – that those who object to the idea are not being difficult – they have valid reasons based on their experiences.

I hope that some how (maybe through social media sharing ) those making and informing these decisions about ratio’s and about changes to regulation  – Cameron, Clegg – Gove, Truss (and the others) will get to know about this blog – and LISTEN.

I am not an academic – I am an everyday person but someone who has common sense and knowledge gained from hands on practice – maybe the government won’t take any notice of me or this blog –  but I feel I have to try to make the government listen because the children I will care for in the future – and all the children who will be cared for in other early years settings in the future, do not have a voice – may not even be born yet – but the decisions the government makes over the next few months will have an  impact on those children.

I just hope that any changes that are made will improve outcomes for children – at the moment I fear that the ideas currently being discussed  will not improve outcomes – in fact they will have the opposite effect.

 

 

 

Posted January 12, 2013 by psw260259 in Daily blog from my childminding setting

4 responses to “Friday 11th January 2013 – This day was bound to happen sooner or later

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  1. Some people are commenting on Facebook and have given permission for me to add their comments here, as they want they government to know how they feel.

    Manda Wright brilliant blog Penny, and soo accurate, we all have off days no matter what age we are, i think its disgusting they are even thinking of it, I can honestly say I couldnt cope, I would be concerned about risk assessments and being able to give all of the children the care and attention they require, and delivering the EYFS and doing all the paperwork on top of caring for the extra children, would be ridiculous. I also couldn’t afford to lower my rates of pay it would not make it worth while working, and that would upset me as i love my job and the rewards i get from the parents and children.

    Shell Reaves Your right Mum, We have days like this and sometimes they’re not as far and few as we’d like and even with 3 children it’s bad enough on a bad day

    Beth Thomas Penny! 3 afternoons a week I have two teething babies, one of whom is on medication and has food allergies, one potty training toddler and one toddler with no additional needs. This blog post hit the nail on the head, and I experience it almost every working day

    Helen Hale Penny we have days like that all the time, and just because there are two adults here it doesn’t make caring for 5 under 3 when they aren’t having the best of days any less tiring. God forbid Liz Truss could get her way and we could have 10 between us (not that we would)
    This week we have had a little man (13months) settling in and despite Mon & Tues when he came being our ‘quietest’ days with just 4 children on Mon, & 5 on Tues, with two adults (actually make that three adults some of the time when my eldest son, who is Dad to 2 of the children, was here) the poor wee man was permanently attached to my hip the whole time he was here, and I only managed to get him to play by sitting on the floor with him on my knee with a box of toys next to us. Imagine if I’d been working alone and still had 4 other children (2 who are potty training and 1 still in nappies) on my own, and had to prepare all of the meals and snacks – on my own! Really doesn’t bear thinking about.

  2. Pingback: Lets join together to tell the government what we think « Penny's Place Childminding

  3. Penny, I’m so glad you have documented this, because what you have described on this Friday is how it is at Playful Minds nearly every Wednesday and Thursday. On these days 3 of us care for 8 or 9 children and are well within recommended ratios. I think the problem lies when there is an incresed number of children, there is a greater risk of a 1 or 2 having ‘nothing right days’ and that is all it takes to upset the whole equilibrium. Every Thursday I get to the end of the day and think thankgoodness its Friday tomorrow and back to caring for 5 children between 2 of us. If ratios are increased to care for 5 to 1 Mick and I certainly will not be caring for 10 our house would be recked and my nerves would be shredded to peices!

  4. Pingback: Interesting Childminders Blog relating to proposed government changes - DO READ

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