Confessions of a nursery worker: 'I wish we could call children naughty'

Article By: Angeline Albert

What do nursery practitioners really think? What are their innermost thoughts about the children they care for? The job? Parents? On condition of anonymity, asked early years practitioners to spill the beans. “I really wish I hadn’t checked that nappy”. Credit: Wallybird/ Shutterstock

Nursery workers from across the UK were asked to complete the following sentence ‘I really wish.’ Their answers mentioned naughty children, pushy parents, a workload that left them struggling, amorous thoughts as well as a real love for a job with too little rewards or recognition.

“I really wish we could use the word naughty, it’s in the English dictionary!” said a nursery worker, fed up of telling children seen whacking their classmates ‘that’s not what we do here. Use your kind hands’.

As far as wishes go, there were a few forbidden thoughts too as some couldn’t help but confess to fancying a child’s dad, mum, uncle or grandad.

’Stop saying all we do is play all day’

Although a child’s day at nursery is meant to be full of child-led and adult-initiated play, too many early years practitioners said: “I really wish we had more time to sit and play with the children”.

Another complained: “I really wish people would stop saying all we do is play all day”, while quite a few wished “there wasn’t so much paperwork to do”.

A nursery worker even expressed a desire to swap places with the children in their care saying: “I wish I was a child”.

The dominance of women in the nursery sector left some wishing: “more men worked in the sector” and “everyone wouldn’t assume childcare is a woman’s job”. Others yearned for nursery practitioner to have “the same respect” and “the same professional status as teachers”.

'I wish I was paid more’

Faced with a desire to keep a child’s day full of fun and stimulating activities, another said she wished her scheduled “activities would last past 9.30am”.

Parents also featured with practitioners wishing parents “understood that children do things in their own time”, “all children develop at different rates” and “all children struggle to share”.

As some nurseries are finding it hard to survive, nursery managers admitted really wishing the government would fund its 30-hour childcare policy properly. Others admitted to using their savings to fund their loss-making business, working till they were exhausted to cover staff, and even taking cleaning jobs or working evenings and weekends to slash costs.

Others thought their jobs could be easier if “we had reliable staff” while some wished “I was paid more”.

Sweden and smelly nappies

A few staff suggested ways the nursery could improve wanting "more staggered start dates for new children” and wishing “health and safety wasn’t so strict”. Another wanted the UK to be "more like Sweden" because they believed "the importance of early years was recognised more” there.

“I really wish there was a magic cleaning fairy to help tidy away the toys.” Credit: Inspiration GP/ Shutterstock

But despite their troubles, many early years practitioners kept a sense of humour with comments such as “I really wish the children wouldn’t hide their socks” and "there was a magic cleaning fairy to help tidy away the toys.”

Many responses referred to the more messy part of the job and a longing for some potty training; revealed by statements like “I really wish I hadn’t checked that nappy” and “I really wish I kept spare clothes at nursery..oops”.

Early years practitioners also referred to the strong bonds they made with the children, with one remarking a wish that "these children would stay forever”.

But no matter how dedicated staff are, there were still days when a nursery worker wished for a break and confessed: “I wish we had another snow day and we didn’t have to work”.


Sort : Go
Margaret Baran

Margaret Baran

04 Oct 2018 8:44 PM

'I wish I could call the children naughty' - seriously - is this a joke or a comment from someone who has undergone very poor training? The person who gave this opinion is, quite clearly, in need of further training if she/he is to remain in a childcare career. A child may be experiencing difficulties with their behaviour but there will always be a reason behind their behaviour - and it is our role, as Nursery Practitioners, to try to discover the reasons and to assist the child to overcome their difficulties! As for anyone who wishes for 'another snow day', all I can say is that you are working in the wrong industry! Some of my staff have trekked for up to 2.5 miles in deep snow, leaving home an hour early to ensure that the children were not disappointed and that the business would not suffer from having to close due to being seriously short of staff. Dedicated and caring staff will do their utmost to get to work on time, whatever the weather conditions, if they are truly happy in their jobs - with the additional benefit that they know that they will be well looked after by the Nursery Management. team.