So just around a year ago I decided that I was going to leave my role working as an Early Years Manager in a local Infant School. Crikey, that was a big decision. Having been there for six years and being responsible for launching an Early Years Childcare setting and leading a large team, I knew this wasn’t going to be an easy decision. Nor would it be easy to launch my own business and become an Early Years Consultant. Over the last year I explain a lot to people, just what an Early Years consultant is. Like, what do I actually do? So, whilst feeling reflective this morning I thought I would put pen to paper, or rather – fingertips to keyboard and explain.
Ever since I can remember I have been a little people person. I know this. My friends and family know this and little people I meet when I am out and about know this. I think they recognise that spark in my eye when I smile, make eye contact and show them I am listening. When I was younger my own mother was a childminder and I have always been surrounded by children, so working with children when I left school to complete my NVQ seemed like an obvious choice. That was over 22 years ago now and I have worked with children ever since and also been lucky enough to become a mother myself. My daughter finds it extremely irritating that I make new little friends wherever I go, MacDonald’s, the park, out shopping and in the supermarket, I mean it is so not cool that I make new friends wherever I go, I am like, totally embarrassing to a twelve year old.
So as an Early Years enthusiast I decided to share my passion, my enthusiasm and – ok, I will acknowledge my slightly irritating joy of working with children and how, by working with others I can motivate and encourage practitioners to rediscover their spark of joy and passion. I am an Early Years cheerleader, I love to celebrate what others are doing well and share it. Just like the children we work with, every single one of us is different, we have unique capabilities, strengths and talents. However, during my time in managerial and leadership roles over the last two decades of course I made mistakes, got it wrong and made assumptions. I have learnt as a manager, not everything is about me. Shocking I know, but just because I thought my intentions were clear, that I am coming from a good place doesn’t mean everyone is at that same stage of the journey or able to share my vision. I can hold my hands up without fear and admit I might not have always got it right, in fact, I still don’t and never will know everything! That also means that I understand what it is like to be a manager of a busy Early Years setting, leading a team with the weight of the world on your shoulders, the responsibility endless and a never ending to do list! What I do know is that I am able to use those skills to support others and share how I am always learning, reflecting, identifying what works well and should be celebrated and how/where/why improvements can be made.
So in my role as an Early Years Consultant my intention is to work with other to motivate, inspire and enthuse. I have worked on many projects, visited some wonderful settings and met with many different practitioners, managers, directors, head teachers and governing bodies all trying their best to improve outcomes for children and meet their statutory duty. Every day has been different with a new challenge or aim. I have completed training on assessment, behaviour, performance management, emotional wellbeing and enabling environments to name a few. I have worked with a school setting to evaluate their Early Years provision and make presentations to governing bodies. In collaboration with a wonderful local outdoor Nursery we have led a rather marvellous outdoor training event for over thirty practitioners to promote outdoor play, break down the barriers to outdoor leaning and played hide and seek in the woods – I love my job! I have also been on the local radio station and shared my special interest in mental health and run events on self-care and emotional wellbeing event in the work place.
More than ever, I am using my voice to share my opinion and encouraging others to do the same and join voices, to speak about the challenges in the Early Years sector. One of the biggest challenges we face is the view that we just play all day, our roles undervalued and the importance of our work diminished. I more proud than I have ever been, that I am an Early Years enthusiast and little people person. If you find yourself agreeing with anything I have written, reach out and share your voice. Lets join voices together.