Should all Early Years settings close over the Christmas period?
Christmas is a great time of the year where many businesses shut down for a week or two over the festive period; however many nurseries stay open between Christmas and New Year. Is this beneficial or should they shut down too?
A number of Pre schools and Early Years settings will be closing their doors this week, if they haven’t already, until the New Year. This gives the children a break from nursery routine and enables them to enjoy the holidays at home with their families, as does it the staff who work in the setting. However some settings will remain open, only closing on the Bank holidays, giving parents the option to send their child in over Christmas week. Although this is offered, settings have reported having a drop in numbers over the festive period as many parents are off work, and so choose to keep their children off nursery too.
The settings that remain open may find that they have a lot of ‘spare’ staff in as the number of children decreases. This provides a great opportunity to get paperwork up to date or have a good deep clean of the nursery setting ready for the new year. Other settings may use this opportunity to send staff home unpaid and save money on wages; however this can be difficult if staff are contracted to a set amount of hours and are not willing to go home unpaid.
The week between Christmas and New Year will often be a very relaxed time for the nursery, with practitioners and children being allowed to ditch the uniform and access activities that may be harder to do with a high number of children and limited staff. Some settings may be able to go on outings into the community or do lots of cooking activities. It can be lovely for the children to come into nursery so soon after Christmas day and share their experiences with staff and peers whilst still so fresh in their memory. Children who do not return until January may have forgotten details of their Christmas time and may find it difficult to talk about all of the different things that they have done.
On the other side, it can be very difficult for children who have older siblings at home and are brought back into nursery in this time. Parents may be off work and older siblings off school; however because most Early Years setting will still charge fees during this time, parents may want to continue taking advantage of the childcare that they have paid for. This can be upsetting for children as they see their siblings staying at home and their routine changing.
Not all families are off work over Christmas, especially those with jobs such as nursing or those in retail. For all settings to close during this time can be difficult for parents who do continue to work through the holidays and still require the childcare. Also some families of particular faiths or religions do not celebrate Christmas. This can mean these families may have their usual routine disturbed and cause them upset in also having to find alternative childcare.
It is down to each individual setting to decide what is best for them, whether it is shutting down over the festive period or continuing to offer childcare.