If I am at home early evening I often see a pre-school child and his mum walking past my home. This child has caught my attention as sometimes I notice that he is crying.
On a few occasions, I have had a brief conversation with his mum who looks very tired and unsure what to do. My thoughts are that he is tired and the crying is a reaction to seeing his mum and this is his way of communicating his feelings. (Note to self – add a section in my Supporting Transitions course, around preparing children for the handover to their parents at the end of the day.) In addition, I believe that he is picking up that his mum is tired.
I saw them again as I was walking to my car during the Christmas week and I noticed that he wasn’t crying. When I wished them both Happy Christmas, mum replied ‘I’ll not be working for one week and his nursery is shut. So we’ll have a well-deserved break!’ Oh, you should have seen the smile on this child’s face.
With this in mind, my thoughts then went to what I have always said about the importance of all early years’ settings closing between Christmas and New Year. As well as children having a break, staff need a break too.
There is also a strong business case for early years’ settings to be shut:
- Managing between five – three days of staff leave dates in one go
- No fuel or food expenses being incurred
- No organising staff rotas
- No decisions to be made on who will be working and the staff who are working feeling resentful because they have to work
- Staff and children come back refreshed as everyone has had a break!
I know there are some nurseries that state parents appreciate 52 week opening – which I am sure they do. However, we need to be supporting family time and communicating to parents that staff work very hard and with everyone having a break at the same time we all come back refreshed, with a spring in our step.
There are some nurseries who use the first day after the January bank holiday as a whole staff training day. I have always been an advocate for all staff training (inset days) days as it helps with staff bonding and the staff team hearing the same message. Having delivered many whole staff training days, especially on the first working day of January, I have observed how staff look refreshed, are ready to learn and do appreciate all having a break at the same time. Most importantly, they come back energised with the green light on go in full illumination.
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