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GUEST BLOG: Working in a reception class

Working in a reception class an easy job with long holidays?
Helen Bray

Anyone who suggests working in reception with children is “just playing “or “an easy job with long holidays” is quite likely to receive a teacher glare from me.

By midday, according to my fitness tracker I have walked 8000 steps, been to the toilet once since getting up at 6:30, and have eaten an apple and a plain biscuit from the staffroom tin because the vultures got to the chocolate ones before me. I’ve drank half a cup of fluids, even though I should have drank at least four cups by now. I don’t dare as it will mean another trip to the loo instead of observing children and recording their learning.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my job with a passion and everyday has its funny stories and heart-warming moments, but the lack of understanding and value for what we do from non- early years workers is frustrating.

They don’t realise every day is like running a marathon. I have in fact ran two actual marathons as an overweight short thirty something, believe me it was a damn sight easier than some days working in reception.

I would like to see an office worker ring a next of kin because a colleague may have eaten a glue stick. I would like to ask an estate agent to get twenty-eight children ready for PE in ten minutes when most can’t even undo buttons. I would pay good money to see a book salesman try to teach literacy to a group of six children, whilst trying to oversee another dozen children learning and developing within age appropriate stages.  We do all this whilst remembering to write observations, before it falls out of your brain, along with the other thousand and one things you need to do. All this whilst keeping a smile on your face, keeping as in tune with the children’s individual needs and interests as possible and extending learning through questioning the children about their learning. Not to mention toileting, first aid, cuddles, meetings and talking to parents etc.

My teenage children wonder why I drop off to sleep when I get home or start snoring on a Friday night whilst watching a family film and they laugh when I get home looking like I’ve been dragged through a hedge backwards and covered in paint. It’s because I chose a career path, not for the long holidays, easy job or the pay. But because every day I get to shape the next generation, I get to make dens from sticks and crates, I get to pretend to be a pirate, I get to sit with the child and listen to his worries. I get to do a job that is emotionally and physically draining but equally as rewarding. Every day I watch the sparks of interest, wonder and discovery.  No other job is like it and I wouldn’t trade it for a quiet life!

Working with children and families is a privilege, and I’m very lucky I get to do it every day.