Childcare educator turned nanny.
A blog by Chief Nanager – Lauren Brown
My career started in childcare when I was just 18 years old. I loved working in a centre and spent over 6 years in total working across all age groups and studied a Diploma in Children’s Services. Working in childcare is so rewarding. What other job do you turn up to hear your name being called out, followed by 20 little best friends lined up to give you a hug? It was incredible to watching children grow and help them develop by facilitating interest based play. You would think with all of these positive aspects I would have found a reason to stay within the industry but there were two major factors that came into play and resulted in me walking away.
The two reasons I left the childcare industry.
I remember the day I had the epiphany that Childcare was no longer for me. It was inside playtime and I was hunched over my laptop trying to complete my observations. My allocated programming time was never enough to achieve quality so I was always rushing. A giggling group of 5yo girls interupted me to show me their funny outfits but I was too busy. Their faces fell when they realised I wasn’t engaged, simply offering a “Wow, that’s cool but I can’t play right now I need to get this paperwork done”. They walked away and I just had this terrible realisation. I joined Childcare to work with children and here I was turning down a child’s request to play, to complete paperwork that no one would likely read. That’s not the kind of educator I wanted to be.
Let me make it clear, I’m a hard working educator. Almost every day I did at least half an hour unpaid to get on top of my workload. Whether we started early, stayed back or shortening lunch breaks, educators give this job everything. The Educator programming book was filled with photos and stories that offered the evidence we had to provide to show that we were following the guidelines and educating the children correctly. The only time my documentation fell behind was when I used my time with the children to play with the children, rather than sneaking away for extra paperwork time. Turning down playing with the children in favour of extra programming was a common occurrence in every centre I ever worked for.
It saddens me to admit, but at times working in childcare was just like being back in high school. Being a predominantly female industry, the catty and bitchy cultures were an ongoing theme to my time in Childcare centres. Don’t get me wrong, some centres and directors were incredible (who to this day still inspire me) but some of my worst experiences as an employee and colleague were in Childcare. Many women bullied, taken advantage of and worked to exhaustion with very little thanks. That kind of environment is not conducive to women helping each other achieve their best.
Most centres don’t have a manager position (someone trained in people management) so the outcome of each conflict rested on the director’s decision. Directors are typically educators who work their way to the top and I’ve known some to be at the same centre and role for 30+ years and. Such a long career without change often sees bad habits formed and not many centres have a HR department to oversee grievances. Some directors were great but there were one to many bad ones in my journey.
The benefits of educating as a nanny.
Lower ratios = customised learning
Lower ratios mean more tailored and customised learning journeys. On average, Nanagers only care for 2 – 3 children and this lower ratio mean a nanny can truly customise a child’s learning journey and explore their interest because I’m not trying to cover an entire class at once. As an educator, I was under too much pressure to deliver paperwork and meet compliance. This often saw interests overlooked that would have been a great opportunity to extend further down a learning path. Having fewer children means less documentation and therefore more time to spend with the child(ren).
Complete freedom in curriculum
Being a nanny is one of the only professions where you have complete freedom in choice for curriculum. This meant freedom to use the world as a learning tool. Exploring a learning path outside of a centre meant I was faced with the heavy logistics that came with planning an excursion. It’s impossible to tailor an outing that covers an interest from every child and the experiences were often rushed and highly stressful. Being a nanny gives me the freedom to explore the world and deliver a learning experience that is truly customised and personal. Whether it be exploring sea creatures at the aquarium or taking the city loop for the train enthusiast, I am able to introduce each child to the world through hands-on and first-hand experience.
Teaching through real life engagement
Children use hands-on experience to explore the world around them. As they move through the world with their professional nanny at their side they practise developmental skills to increase their real-world perception. Introducing a child to the world is one of my favourite parts of being a nanny. Whether we are holding up the self-checkout line so Miss 5 can scan the groceries, or following the garbage truck down the street to watch the rubbish collection -the children can experience first hand how the world works and the role they will play within society.
An authentic exploration of the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF)
The main scenario for the use of the EYLF is through Educators within a centre but, many overlook the beautiful learning journey a professional Nanager can offer by implementing the EYLF in the home. Nannies have more free freedom to follow the ELYF path where ever it may take us. Sensory exploration goes beyond the sandpit to the beach, hide and seek can be in a new playground every day and children can undertake an adventure in the big wide world all while having a nanny by their side, dedicated to providing them with a magical play journey into learning.
Following preferred theories and philosophies
Every child is different and so nannies can follow their own favourite theorists and philosophies depending on the ideal style. One child may need support while another thrives off being independent. Some children I plan play dates for to socialise while others have me on days off childcare and they need some quiet moments of solitude. The early years are vital for a child’s growth and as a nannies can introduce each child to the world around them in customised learning path based on their needs.
I highly recommend the switch!
I’m not saying all educators should make the leap to becoming a nanny, it’s not for everyone. I’m passionate about quality educators entering the private childcare industry and offering their experience and qualification to children in the home. Through Nanager, I am able to offer the support and guidance for educators which is currently lacking in other parts of the industry.