Using the Focused Conversation Method – Often you hear the method called by its acronym ORID. I will reflect upon the management style and how this can be related to the care that the practitioners gave the children.
Describe a situation: what did you see, hear, taste, smell, and touch?
Describe your reaction; often an emotion or a feeling. This is what tells you the situation is important and worth writing about.
Try to explain what you have observed. Use some concept from the course here!
Make a plan about what you will do differently (or the same) the next time you are in a similar situation or what you need to learn to do differently to manage the situation better the next time! This part of your journal entry should be stated in terms of a SMART Goal.
Now I am not disputing that the staff within this nursery cared for the children, or am I claiming that they were, like some staff within other nurseries, just there for the money. They enjoyed their work and enjoyed working with children and they had a minimum of a level 3 childcare qualification showing interest within working in the early years field. They were not people who needed to find a way to pay the bills and so did the least amount of work possible and scrape by. What I am saying is that I believe they did want what was best for the child yet possibly restrictions, paperwork and pressure from management did not allow them to express their true interest and were not able to explore their training further. Their approach was apparently planned – yet at the lowest level of planning. They had an idea what would be covered that week yet activities were not considered until that morning and so they felt unprepared and forced. When entering the placement each morning they would look at the toys they had and just put any toy on a table top available for the child – no thought for interests, schemas or links to other play was considered. The staff members although very amiable, were possibly not as interested in the children as they may once have been due to a lack of Continuous Professional Development. The staff members spoke of their weekends and plans in front of the children and when parents came to pick up the children they would sometimes tell the parents their child had done an activity when they hadn’t – or they would pinpoint one small task and build upon to create a faux scenario. For example outside play – huge among lots of early years theorists such as Froebel and Montessori, Isaacs and Bruce as well as publications like Nursery World… we would go outside with the child for 20-30 minutes of the day and then this would be elaborated to the whole morning. I felt uncomfortable and unsure about this practice and if they should have fabricated the child’s experience. Clearly as a private nursery they have to run it as a business and so by creating the ‘perfect’ environment parents would keep their child there and pay the money asked. Yet still, as a student – witnessing the day and then the false information I felt trapped within the lie – an accomplice to their deceptiveness. In the future I would try to and consider a way to broach with the staff why they exaggerate activities to parents – however maybe instead use this as a life lesson. I do not want to work within a nursery and so maybe instead it was good that I left it and in future actively remember to be as honest as possible with parents. I do not believe if the child has been trusted to your company then you should reciprocate that trust and be honest with parents.
Another scenario that grated upon my beliefs was that of the importance of their paperwork and forcing scenarios onto children to show a developmental norm achieved. It is clear that management use the Vygotsky approach to child learning by acting as an aid to further develop. They are aware of Piaget’s schema theory too, however when planning their curriculum this is not taken into account and their approach to activities is more focused on OFSTED and being able to tick off certain developmental norms for their own paperwork. No real interest in the child’s work is really received unless it can used as photograph evidence for OFSTED or their paperwork. They would construct art activities and call the children over and sit them down and take a photo with their work. They gave no positive reinforcement that would be expected at this age within a setting and instead would flick through their camera to see if they had guaranteed an appropriate photo for their work and once they had they dismissed the children to go and play. I found this to be unusual and off-putting as a student coming into their environment. I asked about the time they have for their paperwork and they said for their 8 key children they have 6 hours each that should be taken within work time yet often is done within their own time. As their own time was getting eaten into – they were actively trying to get paperwork done for end of year transitional assessment during time they should have been spending with the children. As a student I was not there to observe- but I was there to work and to do the job that they were being paid to do. I did not mind this and felt that it gave me an understanding that I do not want to work within a nursery and also showed me how bad management and time-management can affect the care given to the children. I can understand from reflection that the reason they may elaborate the activites that the child did (or didn’t do) because they had been doing paperwork instead of doing more fun activities. I found that I felt stressed and pressured within the setting as all staff were stretched to their limit with paperwork. The paperwork that they were completing was not always necessary as well – granted the transitional and unique child documentation was needed, the rest was not. They created termly art portfolios, photograph documentation for each learning goal and developmental norm in the EYFS each half a term and also had tick list and tick box charts to fill in as well. Clearly these hadn’t been explained by management as the colour coding was used differently in all years and was not understood. As they were creating this extra work for themselves for the parents benefit and as evidence to where the money goes, I reflected the extra attention and learning goals missed through paperwork. A child could create magnificent work or a fantastic observation could be missed as it does not fit into the categories stated by management on the tick box chart. Also the attention that a child could get if the carer was not stressed or pressured could aid the development process as stated by Sue Gerhardt and the importance of feeling valued and loved. In future they should consider the amount of paperwork they do and how this impacts on the children.