Time well spent

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Alice Lewes, Early Years Leadership Consultant

15 September 2016

Time. Where does it go? What happens to it? How well do we use it?

Recent events for all the ‘children’ in my life make it very clear that time is moving fast. Some of those I have known as babies and throughout their lives have made great strides recently: I will blatantly market Ward Thomas, 22 year old English twins who are country singers and now really hitting the big time (I’ve changed many of their nappies!). They are fabulous and well worth a listen.

Then, my gorgeous Amy, (now 27). We are about to travel to France for her wedding, another new chapter for her. My first ever charge (I was aged 19!), is going to be 40 in December – she’s kindly included me in her invitation to go to an Ashram in India to meditate and such like. (She has known me all her life and she should know, really not my thing!).

My kind of peaceful

Now, this is my kind of peaceful!

Photograph by Jonathan Bean via Unsplash

‘Children’ that I have looked after and love now scarily have their own families. So what’s my point? I don’t really feel any older. I know I have a big birthday next year, but..

…apart from the evidence in my body (that I am completely in denial about), what use have I made with my TIME?

Well, actually quite a lot.

I was fortunate to do my NNEB at Norland College, so had fabulous training with all age groups – nanny jobs home and abroad – time spent starting and running Lucie Clayton College of Nursery Training, then Princess Christian, Crechendo Training, and more recently being an independent trainer/coach and working for myself.

Happy birthday to me!

Happy birthday to me!

Photograph by Annie Spratt via Unsplash

But this isn’t all about me! The TIME the children spend in early years has such an impact on the rest of their lives. They are ‘owed’ and ‘deserve’ the best. Those first five years, which for them is vital, the changes they go through for them take so much ‘TIME”. It has to as to be important and meaningful. If they attend day care (either in a day nursery or with a childminder) – that time needs to really matter. It’s their foundation. It helps map their future.


The time children spend in early years is so important

Photograph by Mpho Mojapelo via Unsplash

What needs to be in place to make that time matter? Simple answer – ‘quality childcare”.

Have a look at any brochures, websites and their ‘mission statements’ in early years, they are all broadly the same. Words like fun, rewarding etc will be evident in all of them. Sneaking in amongst these fabulous words comes the clincher: QUALITY!

Quality is a real commitment – it takes investment and time. N.B. We all have our own version of what quality means (cheapest, best value for money, consistent, most expensive etc). Try taking your teenagers to Tesco’s and suggesting that Tesco’s home brand trainers are a quality item!

No – what helps ensure true quality care is time. Time and investment. Budgets are tight, local authority’s funding for training has almost disappeared.

If you don’t invest that time, what will your real cost be?

A discontented staff team? High staff turn over? Clock watching demotivated staff that “are professional because they are doing their jobs”? (One of my future blogs will challenge the word ‘professional’!)

Everyone knows the cost, time and effort in recruiting staff, particularly with the changes to GCSE grades in Maths and English. One of the solutions is so obvious: let’s develop and keep the staff team that are already in place!

That’s not easy and there is a cost associated with sending your team on training courses and providing cover to allow them the time to do so. So, the current mindset seems to be that “sending staff on statutory courses only will save us a lots of money”.

However, that approach ends up costing you so much more time and money!

I can give you so much evidence of the benefits of effective leadership and management training and coaching. The benefits are financial and emotional and, most importantly, directly impact on child outcomes.

If you’d like to find out why that’s the case – to steal one of Shirley Bassey’s most famous lines – my advice to you is: “Spend a little TIME with me!”

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