A work placement is an essential part of education and training where a student gets the chance to learn from practical experience, as asserted by Moss (2007, p.24). Apart from the obvious formal form of any degree course, a student should be given the opportunity to access the outside world and apply the theory taught at school into practice. The practices often help in the acquisition of first-hand knowledge and experience of what is required in work places. A student gets to do something that may open doors in the job market after completion of the university. Hearley & Spencer (2007, p.3) explain that work placements are different, and they portray how job environment feel like, hence should be considered as stepping stones for the future job opportunities. Experiences can vary from good to bad; however, they should all be considered as useful. Experiences provide insight that can be used in the future and help students in approaching different situations.
My work placement was at The Christie Day Nursery and I was taking care of day care children. My prime duties entailed looking after the children, feeding them, interacting with them and contacting their parents. My principal aim at the day nursery was to acquire as much information and knowledge as possible to enable me to undertake my job duties in the future. My objective for seeking the work placement was also to familiarize with the job environment and clients I was planning to associate with after school. My report, therefore, will consist of a comprehensive description of the organization I worked in, and every activity that goes on in the organization. I will also discuss every role and duty I did while in the organization. What a day in the nursery felt like and the benefits and challenges I experienced while working there.
The Christie Day Nursery
This is an organization that helps in taking care of young children and toddlers from the age of six months to five years. Lately, parents are so busy that after giving birth and staying home for the maternity leave, they get back to work. Children cannot be left home alone, thus Christie Day Nursery plays a crucial role. It aims at taking care of young individuals the best ways possible.
The Christie Day Nursery was first established over 30 years ago. It aims at providing quality and professional day care for children aged between six months and five years. Such organization is often regulated by the government policies and rules. Therefore, the Christie Day Nursery has made it its responsibility to register with the OFSTED. This governmental entity requires and gives the day nursery a go ahead to care for a maximum of 54 children on a daily basis. OFSTED registration policies require that there must be a ratio of 1 staff member to 8 children of ages between3-5 years, 1 staff member to 4 children of ages 2- 3 years, and 1 staff member to 3 children of ages under 2 years.
Functions of the Organization
The Christie Day Nursery is equipped with numerous equipment and resources necessary for child development and wellbeing. The nursery provides a wide range of activities relevant to each child, thus enabling the children to spend their days constructively. There are toys for playing, and every child has the chance to access these toys at the right time. The nursery also provides a warm environment that is safe and friendly enhancing development of skills and knowledge. The staff has the responsibility of supporting each and every child in their personal, emotional and social development. This, in turn, is vital in laying a perfect foundation for the transition of these children into school. There is an equal chance of all children in the nursery to participate in the learning process despite their ethnic, cultural backgrounds or gender. Apart from the provision of equal opportunities to children, the nursery is committed to ensuring that children with specific needs have access to the necessary and available resources.
The Christie Day Nursery works towards providing a warm and friendly environment for all children, where they are nurtured and loved enabling them to develop well and achieve their potentials. Children are also respected since they are also humans and respectable individuals. They are given the opportunity to have fun through activities that promote enjoyment as well as learning. The staff members operate as a team and in a professional manner putting into mind the policies of the organization. Their foremost focus is the provision of high standard care for all children in the nursery. In order to achieve this mission, the nursery has a specialized curriculum based on the early year’s foundation stage framework. Through this curriculum, the staff members are informed of how to run the activities and work with children and their families in order to support the children through their developmental stages.
Roles of the Staff
The organization is a full and qualified employer hence supports recruitment and maintenance of staff, and time to time accepts applications from other qualified members of the public. Staff members of the nursery are selected carefully putting into consideration both experience and professional qualifications. The staff are aware of the needs of each child hence try to give them their best all the time as shown by Walmsley (2010, p.15).
Roles of Parents and Guardians
Thompson & Thompson (2008, p.17) explain that a child’s life is only complete if there is someone responsible for his or her wellbeing at a home. Parents are the initial adults in a child's life, and they form an essential part of his or her development. Therefore, at Christie Day Nursery, parents or guardians are expected to contribute and engage in the developmental life of their children. They should understand the curriculum used at Christie and be aware that early year’s foundation stage (EYFS) is only meant for children between birth and the age of five. The EYFS is not a school curriculum for babies and parents should be part of their children’s development and learning as described in the curriculum.
Before enrolling children into the Christie Day Nursery, parents or guardians must have started supporting them in their developmental process. This is possible through practicing certain activities, for instance, sharing bed time stories and playing while bathing. Depending on the age of the child, parents should help them develop and learn things as they grow. Most of the children at the nursery were in the process of developing and learning since they could talk and understand words. Hearley & Spencer (2007, p.31) assert that engaging children in activities like shopping, writing emails and shopping list, making meals or snacks encourages them to want to keep learning. Parents and children are involved in activities that are useful to their development at the nursery. It is advisable for parents and guardians to engage their children in the following activities while at home:
Organization of Children at the Christie Day Nursery
Children at the nursery are divided into three main categories or areas, red for babies, blue for toddlers and green for children with two years and above. The red room provides a safe, friendly and warm environment for babies as from six months. The babies are able to develop at varying rates and different ways. Development is observed in several areas, for instance, cognitive, spiritual, physical, social, emotional and linguistic. The staffs at the red room offer the children with numerous sensory experiences that are both fun and exciting. The children are assigned to staff members, and they have responsibility for their given child. This enables them to build a constructive and healthy relationship with the carers.
The blue room is more advanced than the red room and offers the children a stimulating and challenging environment that is good for their development. The staffs have the role of encouraging these children to develop to their full potential. This is done through offering them lots of praises, reassurance and comfort. Activities at this stage are numerous, and every child has access to them. Activities include both indoors and outdoors practices that are significant in nurturing their personal and social skills. A variety of experiences are offered to children from creative to messy activities. They also engage in role plays, small world plays, outdoor physical plays and those initiated by them as shown by Knott & Scragg (2010, p.28). In the blue room, the children also have good and exciting times like singing and story times. At this stage, the children are encouraged to be an individual, which is promoted through planning and observation with regards to the EYFS principles.
In the green room, the learning process is planned and follows the EYFS framework. Each child has a key staff member who is responsible for promoting and assessing the development status of the child. The staff is also responsible for maintaining the learning process of the child through his or her progress and achievements. Parents’ involvement is welcomed since they are considered the first educators of children. Children join activities that promote good health, safety, enjoyment and achievement, thus making a positive contribution to the children’s development process as explained by Brown (2005, p.29).
Analysis of the Work Placement at Christie Day Nursery
Application at Christie Day Nursery
Places in the nursery are made available in accordance to the date of application, availability and the space available for the relevant age group. Places are offered via emails and are to be accepted within two days (48 hours) otherwise, they are offered to someone else in the waiting list. The application form is often submitted to the nursery manager who places the child on a waiting list.
The nursery operates daily as from 7.30am to 6.00pm Monday through Friday. Meaning I had to be at the nursery as early as seven. It is open all year round and closes only during bank holidays and the Tuesday following the first bank holiday in May. This day is particularly set aside for staff training. On Christmas Eve, the nursery closes at 4.00pm. A day in the nursery has two sessions; the morning session between 7.30am to 12.45pm and the afternoon session between 12.45pm to 6.00pm. Children attending morning sessions are often provided with lunch while those attending afternoon session take snacks at 3.00pm. Feed are paid per hour, and the child left out of the stipulated hours are charged £10.00 for every 15 minutes overtime spent with the child. Fees are paid as per the fee charge sheet, and child care vouchers are acceptable. The government is also engaged in the nursery program as asserted by Moss (2007, p.25), by providing education funding for every child beginning a term after his or her third birthday. The nursery considers time to be a fundamental aspect; hence persistence in collecting children late can lead to loss of a child’s place in the nursery. In cases of unavoidable emergencies, it is advisable to contact the nursery and staff can provide necessary support for the child and parent.
Settling a Child at Christie Day Nursery
Prior to admission, it is advisable that parents take their children to school for several visits. This time provides the necessary opportunity for parents to meet with the staff members and know them personally. The children, on the other hand, get to familiarize with the nursery environment. At the initial stages, parents accompany their children, but leave them as time passes and as they get to know the surrounding better. The aim of this settling process is to make the transition into nursery extremely smooth for children.
Meals at the Nursery
Parents are often advised to consult with their children’s key persons to identify their requirements. Children are given a daily cereal with toast and a drink at 7.30am to 9.00am. There is a mid-morning meal of fresh fruit and drink followed by lunch with water or fresh fruit juice at 11.30am. For the afternoon session, there is a snack served with milk or warm drink at 3.00pm. There are drinks available to the children throughout the day. They can be accessed from the water coolers available in throughout the nursery building. Meals are prepared by the Christie catering department, whose aim is to combine both enjoyable and healthy foods to children. There are specific meals for vegetarians and other distinct groups. At meal times, the staffs sit together with the children to make sure that they develop good table manners and encourage socialization. The nursery and parents consult each other to ensure maintenance of healthy food choices as explained by Hearley & Spencer (2007, p.21).
Child Care at the Christie Day Nursery
The Christie Day Nursery has an administrative body consisting of a staff team of nursery manager, deputy manager, senior nurse and a team of nursery nurses. The staffs are selected by considering their qualifications, expertise and experiences. The care provided at the nursery is of a high standard and the environment is conducive for learning as evident in Thompson & Thompson (2008, p.27). The staff members have first aid qualifications; they are often encouraged to participate in training to keep them updated on new developments within child care profession. The nursery is embraced by many people for its high standard care for children, and it has received a recognizable quality accreditation.
Apart from the obvious engagement of parents to the development of children by supporting connection of the nursery and home, they also participate in contributions if it is needed. At times, they are required to assist in fund raising events in order to raise funds for projects. There is also a voluntary contribution of £10.00 from each parent, which is used to purchase birthday and Christmas presents for nursery children.
All records containing relevant information of the nursery activities are kept safely in files for future references as explained by Brown (2005, p.35). Forms with children’s admission information and any other forms of consent for the nursery to take care of the children in all possible ways are all kept safely. Parents have to be consent for trips before their children can go; otherwise, they do not get to attend them. The nursery also keeps a daily attendance register of both staff members and children, and in case of unavoidable absenteeism, parents have the responsibility of informing the nursery. Staff members also have to record the developmental progress of their assigned children and share them on a regular basis with parents. A contract for the nursery is also completed and copy returned to nursery for record keeping.
Healthcare at Christie Day Nursery
In case of illnesses, for instance, contagious diseases children are expected to stay at home to prevent transmission as evident in Knott & Scragg (2010, p.72). The nursery has policies relating to children health, and a sick child must be symptom free for 48 hours before resuming the nursery. If a child is under antibiotic prescription, he or she must not attend nursery for the first 24 hours. The staff members are responsible for children and have the role of informing parents if their children fall ill while in school. Medicines can also be kept in the nursery drugs fridge for children who have not finished their prescribed doses. The nursery had qualified first aiders who act in times of accidents. Serious accidents are referred to the hospital where a member of the staff accompanies the child with the consent of the parent. Walmsley (2010, p.46) explains that in case a parent has complaints regarding the child’s care and development, it is advisable to talk to the staff of manager of the nursery. The HR manager can also help in solving issues concerning children complaints, but if the organization is unable to solve the complaint, parents can go to OFSTED, Early Years, Store gate, or Piccadilly gate. Informing the nursery in case of bruises or bumps on the children’s body is essential. Otherwise, the nursery has the go ahead to contact the child abuse team if there is a feeling of child injury or abuse.
Behaviour Management at the Nursery
Staff members are ethically advised to have a positive approach towards children and work professionally to support each client. There are no instances of corporal punishments in the nursery setting. The nursery’s policies follow the Webster/ Stratton behaviour management pyramid, which involves playing with children, setting boundaries that are clear, praising children for appropriate behaviours and ignoring inappropriate behaviours but not the children as shown by Thompson and Thompson (2008, p. 123). Behaviour management is supported and handled by a designated person, however, staff can also help but with the advice of the designee. Inappropriate behaviours are often documented and discussed later in the presence of the assigned staff and parent. Other relevant concerns relating to behaviour of children and parents are often discussed privately with nursery manager.
At the end of a day’s session, children are released to the appropriate and known person by the nursery. This is done for the maintenance of safety of the children. In case of a different person to collect a child, parents should inform the nursery in advance. Child release uses a password for security, which if a person fails to acknowledge can lead to one being unable to pick a child.
Special Education Needs
The nursery also provides needs to specific children, for instance, I dealt with a Down syndrome child during my placement. These children are having difficulty in learning in comparison to other children of similar age, or disabled children who cannot learn properly are considered special. They are provided with certain helpful educational facilities as asserted by Moss (2007, p. 79). The nursery liaises with special education needs agencies like the social services, LEA, educational psychologist and peripatetic teacher to help in cases of these special children.
The Christie Day Nursery is a good place for a child, and it enables children to develop and learn vital, relevant things. The nursery is regulated by accredited policies which are followed by all staff members to ensure smooth running of the nursery. Therefore, the nursery mainly aims at providing the enrolled children the appropriate environment that encourages their development. Three different areas exist in the nursery to take care of children in stages. The administrative organization also ensures that the staffs are serving children with professionalism and passion. Moreover, the daily activities in the nursery gave me the insight to continue in my career path of taking care of children. The work placement was an eye opener and helped me gain a lot of experience about children needs and care. I got an in-depth understanding of how a child care nursery is run and the relevant policies followed in such organizations. The nursery also gave me a first-hand knowledge and understanding of my future options in my career path. Before the placement, I only considered teaching and care taking of children, however, during and after the experience, I realized I can also be a nurse or psychiatrist and still work with these children.