Recent press stories claimed that Busy Bees, the largest chain of nurseries in the UK, have introduced lessons on "how to play" for parents of young children.
However, this isn’t quite the whole story, and has developed as a result of a Sky news item regarding Playmobil’s research that parents weren’t playing enough with their children. The Busy Bees nursery in Guiseley was used as a backdrop to the story, as all children are cleared for media coverage.
Busy bees do not ‘teach’ parents how to play with their children – instead offering advice and share daily conversations with our parents and are always there to help if they need our advice.
A spokesperson for Busy Bees stated ‘We would never lecture parents on how to play with children – we feel that we are successful because we work so well with our parents. We always feel it’s a partnership when it comes to caring for the children and understanding their individual needs. Our staff are dedicated to providing the very best experience for each and every child, and parents recognise this.’
At Guiseley and Rotherham our parents were confident enough to admit there is certainly time and work pressures that mean they can’t always play as much as they want to but they constantly strive for that perfect work/life balance. At Busy Bees many fathers sharing the responsibility of childcare with their partners – there are many that drop off and pick up and have dropped to a four day week to pick up one of the days of care – that certainly wasn’t the case 30 years ago!
In response to recent media attention, the Guiseley nursery stated:
‘We are finding that Dads are becoming involved with everything to do with their children including playing with them, especially when you look back thirty years when Busy Bees founded their first nursery. Our working parents do have to juggle a busy work life with family life and we know how hard they try to make the most of their children – but we see many Dads dropping off and picking up and it’s great that they want to see what their children are getting up to during the day. We share experiences – it’s a two way partnership and we find this adds value to the children’s experiences at home and at nursery.
We hear some lovely examples of dads playing with their children. As a nursery, we ensure that we work with the dads to incorporate their child’s interests at nursery too. Dads will tell us how they have helped change their daughter’s dolls pretend nappies because she loves pretend play and one little boy’s dad has been encouraging him to learn how to swing a junior golf club. We find dads enjoy playing as much as the children do and revel in opportunities to make and play in dens with them, or explore the great outdoors together. Dads also enjoying playing with electronic games with children - there is certainly a place for educational computer based resources and children love receiving praise by their parents or staff for achieving the aims of an interactive farmyard game or a computer based colour matching or counting game. We believe such resources support the children’s motor neuron development and enrich their play experiences. Our ‘Stay and play’ sessions give parents an insight into a typical day at our lovely nursery, allowing children the opportunity to play with small world toys, role play, construction, puzzles and games, gloop play, sand and water resources, music and books and many craft and creative resources to stimulate fun learning experiences.
Our baby group sessions were set up as a way to encourage parents to enjoy and explore a vibrant and stimulating nursery environment with their babies and help them to meet other parents with babies of a similar age (under one years old). This experience greatly benefits parents who do return to work after maternity or paternity leave, because they feel more confident about leaving their child in a nursery environment and likewise the baby will be more settled too. We have held a nursery rhymes session one week, a sensory experience session, a hand and foot printing session and clay modelling for example.
We have had dads come along to our parent and baby group class with their little ones before. In some cases they are the main carer. It’s lovely that they feel felt confident enough to do this and happy to join in with the singing rhymes and play musical instruments with their baby.’
Marg Randles, Co Founder and Managing Director added:
“When a parent chooses Busy Bees as their childcare partner I believe that we have an obligation to provide a range of support and advice. As a parent myself I know every day brings a different challenge, and sometimes you often feel that you are making it up as you go along. I have always found that having someone to confide in or just to provide reassurance on any issues is helpful. I consider myself to be very fortunate that when I had my first child I lived above the nursery and had the expertise readily available. We would always want our parents to know that we are there to support them. That’s what a true partnership is.”