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How creche is different from home for child’s learning
Crèche life

How creche is different from home for child’s learning

by Merel MIEDEMA 3 min. 12.11.2022
Sending your child to creche enhances their experiences, helps them navigate in a group and prepares them for life, says Merel Miedema
Nursery prepares children for life in a group but at home it's more about being part of a family and how to take care of ourselves as individuals
Nursery prepares children for life in a group but at home it's more about being part of a family and how to take care of ourselves as individuals
Photo credit: Shutterstock

While speaking to the mother of a child who attends the crèche where I work, I realised how strange it must be for parents to imagine their children having a life of their own during the day at nursery. 

Although nurseries strive to be as homely as possible, by their very nature none of them actually offer the same experience as being at home. Sending your child to a creche enhances their life experiences, helps them navigate as part of a larger group, and prepares them for life at school and, much later, work. So how does creche life differ from life at home?  

Being part of a group

First of all, there are more children at the nursery than at home (unless you have 12 children, in which case I hope the ages differ more than they do at the creche). This means a child does not get as much individual attention, and they have more playmates of their own age. 

A large part of my job is observing: watching the children play together or near each other and solve conflicts, getting to know each individual’s specific strengths and weaknesses. The more my colleagues and I observe the children without interfering the more we understand them and are able to guide them towards self-sufficiency and independence.

Of course, we also interact with the children, mostly when we are at the table for lunch or snacks. These are times when we ask them to tell us about their day or whatever else they wish to share. We also teach them not to interrupt other children, to listen and ask questions when someone else is sharing. 

Learning to be patient

An important rule at my nursery is that children are not allowed to ask for more food or drink – they have to wait until we ask. This always surprises parents, because asking politely is of course such an important thing to teach children. At the creche, however, this would create absolute chaos: imagine up to 12 children all asking for more bread at the same time. So they learn to trust that we observe them and anticipate their needs, by asking them if they want anything else when we see they are done eating or drinking. 

Although the things we teach small children might seem simple and not require a deep analysis, everything children experience in their younger years helps them develop and grow as a person. Yes, we need to sit at the table to eat in order not to make a mess, but we are also connecting as a group, giving valuable insight into how life works, and setting up the actions that will become automatic when the children grow older. 

Centre of attention

Basically, what we do at nursery is prepare children for life in a group, as opposed to what they learn at home, which is more about being part of a family and how to take care of ourselves as individuals.

An important aspect of the job which is one of the first things we teach interns is the ability to give attention to individual children while simultaneously keeping an eye on the group. 

As a pedagogical worker, I am always sensing and checking the group atmosphere, needs and safety while also interacting with one or more of the children. Unless there is a safety issue or emergency, I think it’s safe to say that at nursery, the group always comes first, but a group is made up of individuals, and we never forget that.  

Merel Miedema is an early childhood educator in Amsterdam, where she works at one of the city’s oldest independent and green crèches. She writes the Luxembourg Times’ Crèche Life column, published on the website every other Saturday.

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