Fay Crouch, owner of Blackbirds Fun for Kids, Playgroups & Out of School Child Care, Felpham
Leaving your precious bundle at a playgroup or nursery for the first time can be terrifying. How will they cope without you? More to the point, how will YOU cope without them? But it makes a huge difference if you can hand over your little prince or princess to someone like Fay, who combines professional expertise with the hands-on experience of raising her own family.
“I have been working in childcare for over thirty years and I’m a mum of two and a grandmother of three,” she said, going on to explain how she set up Blackbirds in 1997, naming it after a line in a traditional nursery rhyme because of the number of children on the original role: four two-year-olds and twenty five-year-olds, so four and twenty, like the number of blackbirds in Sing a Song of Sixpence.
But two decades on there are many more children in Fay’s care.
“We’ve grown and extended the hours we offer to meet demand. We offer breakfast, after school and holiday clubs and we are in the process of growing again, offering more hours to a broader age range.
“It is important to me that we change with the times and that my team are qualified and experienced. We have regular staff meetings to discuss and develop the experience provided for our children,” said Fay, who is a big fan of getting children out to the beach or park for fresh air and exploration.
“Early interaction with other children is great for socialisation and language skills and they do learn from each other, but we also know that learning through play is the most effective way for very young children to learn, so we take them outside to experience different environments for themselves in a sensory way. We encourage independence too, but we enable children to achieve independence rather than expecting it of them. We bring everything down to their level, with chairs and tables and equipment within easy reach for them.”
Well regarded by parents and rated ‘Good’ by Ofsted, Fay admits that there is a mountain of paperwork involved in maintaining standards.
“There are hours of admin and training these days. Liaising with the local authority and Ofsted and keeping up with employment laws and health and safety regulations are all important aspects, but this side of the business is time consuming. But every day a child will say or do something to make you smile and that makes it all worthwhile. It is a very rewarding job.”
Exuding kindness, Fay is naturally gentle and intuitive with her Blackbird fledglings, many of whom don’t always fly the nest.
“Some children come to us as toddlers and go on to attend an after school or holiday club into their early teens.”
Smiling she added: “It is lovely to be part of their journey and to watch them grow up.”
For more information: www.blackbirds.org.uk; 01243 824049