Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Horrible Nursery Design

A Photo blog post because pictures paint a thousand words.
 
The floor shouldn't be the most interesting thing in a garden.
 
 
And here the children can't even look up without sensory stimulation overload.
I wonder if they call this "The Ladybird Room"?
 
 
Very very open plan. Every child can see every other child and every toy at all times.
It maximises distractions. Would a couple of low partitions hurt?
 
My eyes hurt!

 
Because putting children's artwork on the walls would distract from the architecture?
A nursery to avoid. It looks like they put the building first and the children second.
 
Not open ended. I don't like roadways in nurseries. Why not just have them as lines
that could be turned into rivers or snakes or whatever by the children's imaginations?
I do like all the planters making it maze like.
 
And in this one the nursery owners forgot to tick the 'no giant giraffe' box.
(Quite like it though!)
 
 

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Food

Nurseries are good at giving children exactly what they need to eat. The right mount of protein, carbohydrate, vitamins, minerals, their 5 a day etc. What they're not so good at doing is giving children what they like to eat, and if they don't like it they're not going to eat it. A healthy nutritious meal that a child doesn't eat is not healthy or nutritious.
Too many menus are written without any consideration as to whether children will like it or not. And if they show they don't like a meal by not eating it, it's seen as the child's problem and they just have to jolly well get used to it!

A couple of notable dishes I've had recently were a brown/grey thing with big bits of onion and mushroom. I don't even know what it was called, but grey/brown food is not appetising. The children all stared at it hoping it would go away. I had cottage pie at one place, a nursery favourite. Or it should have been but when I tasted it I didn't taste it. It had no taste to taste. It was like lumpy water. Nurseries can even screw up desserts. A week or two ago I tried some of the children's yoghurt. It was natural unsweetened yoghurt with crushed unsweetened raspberries. It was so sour I thought I was in danger of sucking my whole face into my mouth. I'm the sort of person who eats the lemons you occasionally find floating in drinks, but even I couldn't eat that yoghurt. It was as close to being poisonous as it could be while still being technically edible.

The moral of this tale is "Nurseries! Stop feeding children stuff they don't like!"

Not much of a moral, but this isn't much of a blog.

And maybe when parents visit a nursery they should do it at lunchtime and insist on a sample, and see if the children are tucking in or just pushing their food round like a dead badger in a swimming pool?

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Nursery Reviews!

A quick review of the nurseries I've worked in recently. Very anonymous of course.
At the end is whether the nursery has decent freeflow/continuous provision inside in the pre-school, then whether they use the garden most of the time (ie NOT "Let's go in the garden for half an hour"), and lastly whether I would send my children there.

A big chain of nurseries:
1. Pre-school unit has bizarre layout which makes everything very hard. Garden is in the grounds but a walk away. Toddler rooms have too many children and not enough ventilation. Pretty much all the staff want to leave.
Freeflow - no
Garden - no
Use it - no

2. Baby and toddler rooms lovely. Good size and sensible amount of children. Pretty nice staff. Pre-school very cramped. A small room which they jammed in as many children as possible, but there is no chance of finding a quiet area. Good garden but a bit hard to access for the older ones. Great for toddlers.
Freeflow - yes, but poorly.
Garden - no
Use it - no

3. A warehouse sized nursery. Massive numbers of toddlers and older babies in their rooms, leading to a distinctly impersonal touch. The gardens for the younger ones have rotas so they don't get too crowded. The pre-school garden is small for the number of children. The open plan building get very noisy and feels hectic all the time. Most of the staff are pissed off.
Freeflow - sometimes, but poor.
Garden - partly.
Use it - no.

4. A large converted house. Baby room ok, toddler room far too many children. Pre-school in a complicated collection of rooms upstairs. Massive garden. The pre-schoolers have a walk to the garden so all have to come out at set times. Staff fairly happy but the managers keep changing!
Freeflow - yes.
Garden - yes, apart from pre-school.
Use it - no.

A different big chain:
5. A new nursery. No place for children's artwork on boards. They have huge photos of happy children instead. Toddler room too many children and very hectic. No easy access for any children into the garden which has some nice features but is half slippery, muddy grass. All looks and not enough focus on the children.
Freeflow - yes.
Garden - no.
Use it - no.

6. A purpose built nursery with large numbers of children. The gardens are very good but rather lacking in things to do in them. There isn't a great deal of equipment  and toys about. The children see the same ones each day. The company seem very tight with money and have banned staff from using backing paper to reduce costs, so most displays look crap. Some areas desperately need painting. Staff all seem very nice and good. This could easily be a much better nursery if funded better.
Freeflow - yes.
Garden - yes.
Use it - no.

Others:
7. A city centre nursery. Baby rooms nice. The toddler room...er...I was there for half an hour and the staff were looking at me to run the room. The staff were leaning against the walls and seemed to consider the children as an inconvenience. At one point after song time a member of staff said they could go and play. Only 2 toys were put out and the staff member said "I wish we had something nice for you all to do, but we don't" and let them get on with it. The staff just couldn't be arsed. There was a garden that you had to cross a car park for.
Freeflow - ? - wasn't in pre-school.
Garden - no.
Use it - NO.

8. A converted house with unit out the back. Set in a large, long garden which gets a lot of use. It's a relaxed and friendly place with a lot of staff for the number of children. It feels very homely. The baby and toddlers rooms are a bit cramped, but numbers are low and an extension is being built for them.
Freeflow - yes.
Garden - yes.
Use it - yes.

9. Town centre nursery with a yard rather than a garden. The small yard means the rooms have a rota for access. The rooms downstairs have high ceilings and too many children which is a very loud combination. Upstairs has no windows to look out of. Many of the staff were terrible, but a lot have left.
Freeflow - yes.
Garden - no.
Use it - no.


Saturday, 7 September 2013

Pink Stinks!

Somewhere there is a boardroom of a toy company assessing new items for their range. A designer holds up a nice green spade. It's well built, durable, safe, and looks fun. The board is not happy.
"But why should we sell a spade that only appeals to half the population?" asks a man with a moustache like a walrus. "There's no way a...a...a...."
"Girl, your Lordship?" Suggests a lackey.
"Yes! A girl! there's now way a girl could possibly use that!"
"If a girl were to use a spade like that she would grow up to make a terrible wife!" Wheezes another dusty old fossil.
"They would turn into a lesbian!" Says a third.
The designer smiles and from under the desk produces another spade. It's pink and has pictures of high heels and cupcakes all over it. The board all laugh with relief at the designer who played such a marvellous prank on them all. Imagine suggesting a girl play with something that isn't pink! The very idea!!!

A pink globe. Because girls refuse to believe the sea is blue.

Toys for children on the right. Toys for girls on the left.
 

Because girls can only handle half as many functions as boys?
http://www.pinkstinks.org.uk/
A campaign against the pinkification of toys.

Say "no!" to pointless pinkness!

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Things Children Have Said.

To an older member of staff: "You've got grey hair so you're going to die". I assume they were going to let nature take it's course...

Talking about traffic lights: "Red means stop. Green means go. Yellow means...everybody get excited!"

On finding 2 boys seemingly kissing: "We wanted to know what each other's tongue tasted like."

A girl was giving an injection to a toy cat: "I'm putting it down. It has a low heartbeat...and I'm sick of it!"

"Last night Mummy got excited and threw wine at Daddy!"

"This is a T-Rex!" said a girl.
"A tyrannosaurus! I replied.
"NO" she said, "It's a T-REX!".
"But what does T-Rex stand for?" I asked.
She said "Because it has great big feet!"

No Backing Paper Policy!

I was at a nursery recently and saw the display boards in the room had no backing paper on them. The children's pictures went directly onto the mottled light grey fibre board. Hideous. Absolutely horrible. It looked like the staff just didn't care but it's actually a policy that the company had brought in to save money. The display of the children's collage rockets looked the worst as they blasted off into the light grey sky!
If you're looking around for a job in a nursery, why would you want to work there? And if you're thinking about sending you child there, why?! There are some things that you see that are just big red flags saying "RUN AWAY!"
Boards need backing! (And borders!)

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Garden Plants.

Some 'must have' plants for a nursery garden.

Buddleia. Sometimes known as The Butterfly Bush. Big shrubs
but can be cut back easily. Butterflies LOVE them.

Rosemary. It smells, you can eat it, bees
like it, and it can withstand footballs
and toddlers standing on it.

Runner beans. Easy to grow from seeds. You can eat them, and
can get them growing in fun ways such as pictured above. You can
also harvest the beans easily to save for the next year.

Japanese Maples/ Acers. Expensive, but they are trees! We go
on about different coloured leaves in the autumn, but how many
trees are actually red?

Golden Bamboo. Such useful stuff so it's good to
see it actually growing. The golden type is clump
forming, The wrong stuff will run round your whole
garden!

Easy to grow. Nice to eat.