Updated: Aug 13, 2020
Hi! I’m Natalie, Nursery Manager of a 72 place nursery attached to an Infant School. Today my day starts when I get to Nursery, as opposed to other days when it might start as I get out of the shower, answering the phone to staff calling in sick or arranging last minute cover. it's amazing how the challenges have changed in this recent climate. no one has been worried about cultural capital lately! When I arrive, I start by touching base briefly with all 3 of my classrooms and staff teams, typically before the children arrive, passing on any vital messages or giving instructions for that day. They will also let me know of any parent requests/comments and we will exchange information. Work aside, it is also a moment to build that relationship with each of them. I ask how their evening was/how their children are/how ‘that thing’ is going etc. I really pride myself on being nice. And I know; I realise that isn’t appropriate in some scenarios, however, I think it’s really important to have a connection with my team and for them to know that I care for them as actual people; even though sometimes I might be thinking ‘Great, that’s 1 body for those 8 children’!
I also stick around during opening time in one of the rooms to greet some of the children and parents. I like to see which book has been brought in or which fancy dress costumes just had to be worn today! If there are any parent queries, I am on hand to field them!
Then I head to my office, which in my setting is actually built off one of the classrooms. This is great, as the children can come in and say hello, have a chat with me or bring me things to discuss. It really keeps me in touch with the children and gives me an opportunity to build a friendship with those in the Rainbow Classroom.
I start answering some emails that have come in; extra session requests, invoice explanations, parents checking their child is ok after drop off, a child being collected early for a dentist appointment, a child who has lost a hoody, and my favourite - a potential parent enquiry! One of the things I love about my job is the challenge of converting an enquiry to a registration of a place and the satisfaction of a parent choosing us, for our environment, education, staff and ‘feeling’ of the nursery. I email them back straight away with some information, asking questions about their child and inviting them to come in for a tour of the nursery. First impressions are so important and you want every family to feel like they are your main priority, because if they do register their child, you want them to feel that their child is your main priority too. It’s amazing how the running of a Nursery requires quite a bit of good old customer service! Having worked in the retail industry before joining the Early Years sector, this is something that I have always carried with me.
Today I don’t have any parent meetings or nursery tours, so next I spend some time reviewing and proof-reading some observations written by a new member of staff. All our observations are written electronically, through a curriculum app. They are emailed to parents on a monthly basis, along with photographs, next steps of learning and links to the EYFS curriculum. For this particular staff member, it has been vital to give extra support and guidance as this is the first setting she has worked in. I am careful about giving her a good balance of praise and constructive feedback so that she can develop her own practice, and she always seems grateful for that.
I take a phone call regarding funding from a parent who is struggling to complete her form. I talk her through all the steps and help her to input the correct amounts and talk about why we deliver the funding differently to the other setting that her child attends. We have a nice chat, and every conversation I have with my parents helps to build that positive relationship and their trust in me.
For a few hours in the afternoon I join the team on the ground and I am in ratio in one of the Pre-School classrooms. This gives me the opportunity to really know what it’s like for my team. There’s nothing worse than a manager telling you how to do something when they have no idea what it’s really like. I try to do this every week and will try to cover any staff who are off sick if I have nothing specific planned, certainly for a morning or afternoon. It also allows me to discuss environment or planning ideas etc with the team and the Room Leader.
There are so many other bits to the day, but nobody wants to read a list of jobs that they do themselves! In other blog posts I hope to write specifically about certain aspects, and how those things work, or don’t work, for me. If there is anything you would like to read about, please get in touch, and that will help to give you content that you are interested in. Otherwise, I hope to touch upon all aspects of managing a setting, both educationally and practically!