Monday, 22 October 2012

Old versus young

           Age can lead to so many issues within a childcare working environment

I have witnessed and been part of so many issues concerning the clash of ages within a setting. It has caused arguments, unhappy staff and noncooperation and can be a difficult one to manage. When writing about this, I have to cover so many different angles, I feel the best way is under headings.

Older staff and new ideas: Some (and can I underline not all!) older staff do find it difficult to get their heads round new policies and guidelines which come into force in the childcare sector. They can feel that what they have learnt and used in the past worked well, so why change it??  This can cause difficulty with the staff and also managing them. Unfortunately, when it comes to guidelines and policies, they have to adhere to them as part of their job description and responsibilities, but it is also important to remember that some "old school" ideas are actually really useful.

Experience does mean a lot in child care and should be celebrated and mixed within new ideas. It is a case of making sure everybodys views are valued and respected. Some older staff do get old and set in their ways and it does cause difficulties for managers that do not wish to appear ageist, but at the end of the day all staff have to adhere to policies and therefore need to carry out their duties appropriately.

I must say here that some of the best practitioners I have worked with are a lot older and more experiences. Although we have clashed at some point, I am still very good friends with them (they know who they are!)

Younger staff and learning :Again some younger staff, and not all, find it difficult to get their head around the policies and procedures and take longer to pick things up then others. Some new young staff are not 100 per cent sure what the role of a nursery nurse actually entails and think that working with children is all play and nothing more. It can also be difficult for them to cope with the long hours and stress which accompanies the job at times.

As a team, staff would need to come together here to support the younger staff to help them to learn the ins and outs of the job and also help them to discover whether their choice of profession is actually what they want to do. Everyone learns and work differently, and it is all about understanding the type pf person you have working with you. It can lead to great relationships too. I have been lucky enough to be named "most supportive nursery mentor" by Smarts Training back in 2002, which even though I was still young myself, was a great honour to be given from a nomination from a younger member of staff I helped train up. It can be very rewarding.

Older staff and younger superiorsSome older staff do find it difficult taking direction from younger staff in higher positions to theirs. It again does depend on the person, but it can lead to many clashes within the working environment. It does come down to trying to work out differences and working out how each other work. Again, I have clashed with older staff whilst I was in a room leader role and I have had to tactfully tell them how we are supposed to do something. It is all about how you explain something, as it is with all staff and unfortunately some people can react differently than others (regardless of age!)

A lot of any issues with younger or older staff is respect. Everyone expects respect whether they are older and being managed by someone younger, or younger managing an older person. It is important to remember that everyone deserves to have their say and share their opinions, but also everyone has to work to their settings policies and guidelines too.

This is a difficult topic to write about and I hope that I have not offended anyone with how things have been covered in this post. If there are things you feel you wish to share about this subject, please email me at or leave a comment on my Facebook page.

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