Top 10 Things Parents Do That Drive Nursery Staff Mad

We asked early childhood educators what their biggest and most common bugbears with parents are...
Top 10 Things Parents Do That Drive Nursery Staff Mad
By Carli Allan
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Parents, listen up! Nursery teachers would like you to know that being an educator of little ones isn’t all singing, story-telling and expressive works of art, these multi-talented sources of wonderment also have to attend a much bigger challenge every day… sorry parents, they mean you!

We asked early childhood educators what their biggest and most common bugbears with parents are. Join us in ticking off how many of these parental blunders and misdemeanours you may have been guilty of, and consider the other-worldy levels of patience that many of us will have received…

1. Sending your child to nursery in their best clothes


You, yes you! With your 3-year-old in the crisp white Armani shirt and chinos! That outfit is going to be covered in paint splodges, glitter, grass stains and muddy marks, and some of those stains may not come out in the wash. Save yourself some heartache, and save your child’s nursery teacher some anxiety, by keeping special clothes for special occasions. Nursery is about providing children with opportunities to explore, create and play, to develop confidence and skill, a mindset of lets-have-a-go, and all of this means there will be mess! Your child is not at nursery to network, so get them in their comfiest, most practical clothes, and while you’re at it, bringing in several spares, in case things get really messy.

2. Inviting them to your child’s birthday party 

Your child’s nursery teacher and assistants most likely adore your little one. They spend time with your child, watch them grow and develop, comfort them, laugh with them and marvel at their development with you. They may even enjoy their daily chats and updates with you too. That being said, they likely have 15 or more children in their care, may have their own children and partners at home, and their jobs aren’t light on the body or mind. They’ll smile politely when you ask, they may even awkwardly agree, but trust us, they do not want to come to your child’s birthday party. Don’t ask them, you’re just creating an awkward situation.  

3. Demanding updates throughout the day


Do you spend your mornings wonder what your child is doing? Longing for a photograph, desperate to hear if your little miracle has eaten the chopped cucumbers and cheddar cubes you packed for snack or done a number 2?

We hate to break it to you, parents, but your child’s nursery teacher cannot fulfil your parental desire to know what’s going on while also inspiring, engaging and enthusing the apple-of-your-eye and their troop of toddler friends. You’re going to have to wait until the end of the session for news, and that’s just the way it is, folks.

4. Putting medicine in your child’s bag and forgetting to tell the nursery

Not so much a pet-peeve for nursery staff but a matter of child safety. Parents, your child’s nursery teacher is not a mind reader, and medicines should never be accessible to young children! Save your them the panic of discovering this major safety risk and approach the nurse or manager with any new medical requirements straight away. The nurse/manager will also need to know what your child is being treated for, as some illnesses will have strict exclusion periods that they required to follow under the local health authority (it’s not just Covid-19 they have to think about).

5. Lace-up shoes


Since we all agree that your 2-year-old cannot tie their own shoelaces, do the nursery staff a favour and send your little one in practical footwear that can be taken on and off with ease. Those high-top trainers look super stylish, but your toddler is more concerned with getting to the best tricycle before the other kids reach it, and that extra 8 minutes of ‘is that how this fastens?’ and ‘just a moment Billy, we’ll catch up with the rest of the class once I’ve got your shoes on’ are not likely to make you a popular parent.

6. Making claims of your child being a genius

Child development is fascinating to observe; most little ones appear to exceed in some areas while falling behind in others, and as parents, it can be enormously exciting trying to pick out your child’s special talents and skills. Most early childhood educators happily engage in conversations with parents about their observations from home, after all, it can help them to learn more about your child. What they don’t love to hear is that your child is a genius, not like those other regular looking podgy toddlers in the class, and should really be with much older children instead of with their peers. Parents, remember where you are, your little Einstein isn’t graduating university just yet, and likely needs time to sing, climb, run and play rather than tackling Pythagoras’ theorem at two and half.

7. Collecting your child late


It’s only 15 minutes, so what’s the big deal? Some children stay back later anyway, so why is your child’s nursery teacher looking at you like you just ran over her puppy? Well parents, the thing about staffing in nurseries, is that they are based on adult-child ratios, and it may well be that your repeated 15 minutes extra is taking the group over ratio, and resulting in some poor teacher or assistant not getting away for their lunch break. Let’s be honest, that’d make you see red too, lateness is definitely best avoided.

8. Selecting a nursery with a particular philosophy and demanding something different

So, you’ve signed your child up for a bilingual nursery, but wouldn’t it be better if they could just stick to English this year? Perhaps your child’s Montessori feels just a bit too… well… Montessori? Come on parents, they told you what to expect in that lengthy nursery tour, you decided it was wanted for your child, and chose this nursery.

9. Reading too much into photographs

Is that little boy in the background giving my child an angry look? Why isn’t my child sitting with those children, are they bullying him? An image can be read in a hundred different ways and parents, you will see in a photograph what your anxious mind chooses you to see. Why not approach your child’s teacher for a meeting if your anxiety if becoming overwhelming? They will likely prefer this than continual nit-picking and questioning.

10. Using nursery staff to threaten or bribe your child


Parenting can be hard and early childhood educators understand that more than most. Sometimes, when all else fails, threats and bribes are all you have left to get your child dressed or in the car or eating well. Nursery teachers often become figures of admiration and affection for young children, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to use them to motivate your little one. Yes, you know what we’re talking about, parents! “If you don’t finish you breakfast, I will have to tell Miss Sarah and she will be so disappointed!” or “tidy up nicely and I’ll ask Miss Lucy to let you ride on the tricycles tomorrow”. Your child’s nursery teacher has worked hard to cultivate a positive bond with your child and they don’t need you creating complications.

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