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A day in the life of a nursery nurse:Nursery nurses

Barbara Foubister, who has been a nursery nurse for more than 30 years and currently works at Bonnington Primary nursery in Edinburgh, explains her working day.

"The nursery is open from 9am to 3pm. Some children attend for mornings only, to 11.30am, or afternoons only, from 12.30pm. The children who come full-time do so for various reasons: the parents may both be working, the child may have additional needs or English may be his or her second language.

"The working day begins at 8.30am when we set up the nursery. We make sure not to set up everything as it's important to get the children to help a little. This not only involves them, makes them more at home and gives them a sense of ownership, but it also helps them to remember where things belong.

"With all the staff we discuss plans for the day, picking up on yesterday's work to follow through. We can discuss anything parents said when they picked their child up.

"At 9am we welcome the children and get a chance to talk with parents as they drop them off.

"This is a time for free play, though the older children will be doing work related to going into the infant department.

"We observe their play so that we can learn how they are developing. We might deal with specific groups of children or have a specific focus, like environmentally focused play out in the garden.

"We follow a curriculum for the year but not in any rigid way because with young children you have to be ready to address their specific needs at any point. You do cover the plan but in the way they need, which is not necessarily the way you think.

"We follow the seasons and festivals. This is a multicultural community, with children from different European backgrounds as well as South American, Indian, Chinese and Pakistani, so covering different traditions or festivals is important.

"During the morning we do storytelling, singing and circle time.

"At 11.20am we will get the children having dinner ready to go over to the main building. You can imagine it's fun toileting 20 children at one time! The lunch preparation is about teaching them routines and social skills, showing them acceptable standards of behaviour.

"Lunch is at 11.30am and two of us (nursery nurses) will eat with the children and develop table manners.

"When we return at 12 o'clock, the teacher will take the children off for teeth cleaning. They will then have a relaxing half-hour with the teacher, chatting or watching TV, while we take a break. This is a chance for the full-time children to recharge their batteries.

"At 12.30pm we're back to pursue afternoon play activites. They may be similar to the morning activities but obviously have to be different for the full-time children.

"The children are collected from 2.45pm to 3pm. Just as they help set up, so they help tidy away.

"Parents come into the nursery and it's another opportunity to share news about the children and to get to know one another better.

"We then finish the tidying up, go over anything important from the day and plan tomorrow's activities, leaving for home at 3.30pm, though sometimes we stay on to do gardening or rearranging."

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