It really is quite hard to believe that Apple Trees Child Care is 10 years old. Yes, we are 10! When I think back over the last 10 years it makes me feel a little emotional, partly because I can’t believe how quickly the time has gone and partly because of how proud I am of what we have created.
It’s no fluke that we are still here ten years later. It’s been a decade of hard work and striving for the best. The desire to create a child care environment that would provide exceptional care and learning for the children. The drive to not give up when things went wrong and there were lots of things that did go wrong, believe me! The belief in our vision and finally the refusal to give in, even when the world seemed against us.
Where it all began.
It all started because I needed someone to look after my son, who funnily enough celebrates his 12th birthday today! I looked around but I couldn’t find a place that felt right. I’m not saying that the options were not nice places but they didn’t have the homely feel that I was looking for. There was also not much to choose from locally and not with the flexibility I needed. So we thought lets just start our own place. You can read the story here. There were lots of people that laughed when we suggested it……even I had to consider if this was a bit of a hair brained idea, but obviously we were right as we are 10 now!
Building the foundations.
From the beginning, as a parent, I knew that the most important thing was having happy, thriving children. To get happy, thriving children we needed a team of practitioners that would not just come in and satisfy OFSTED’s huge checklist of criteria, but would love these children as their own. I needed a group of people that could work as a team and pull in the same direction. They needed to believe in our vision and they needed passion for the role they had chosen.
What a team we found. Over the last ten years we have had many staff come and go. All have gone on good terms and regularly check in with us. The core of our team has been here since the beginning and as we grew new members were added. I feel like I have made so many friends along the way and even if they don’t all work here now I am truly grateful for the work all of our practitioners have done for Apple Trees. Without them we would not be where we are today. Without them there would not be so many children that have had a wonderful start to their education. Without them there would not be so many parents that have been able to go off to work knowing their children are happy and well cared for. Thank you team Apple Trees for everything!
What have I learned?
I could write a whole book on everything I have learned over the last ten years. There is of course the obvious; how to paper mâché, make play doh, the words to a million children songs, how many things you can make a card board box into and who knew how much snot could come out of one child? On the business side, its flipping hard work. I’m not a natural employer. I find it hard to point out things that can be improved or things that have been done wrong. I don’t like hurting people’s feelings, I learned to be a bit tougher, but I still have my soft centre. I’ve learned about red tape, rules and regulations and how to run a nursery. I’ve learned that I never stick to the budget as there is always another bright new activity or resource I want the children to have which means I’ve learned to hide from our financial team on the first Monday of the month! I’ve made many mistakes but I’ve learned from them all.
On the other side, away from the activities and the business I’ve learned that every child is so different but just as rewarding. They learn at different stages, they are all unique and thats ok. You can’t pigeon hole a stage of development into an age bracket, although thats what we are told we must do. They all find their way in their own time.
I learned that it’s not the bright shiny new toys, its the time, the care, listening and love that children thrive on. It’s playing peek a boo, pushing them higher on a swing, praising their enormous tower or awarding them a wow certificate. It’s the cuddles and the shared snack time, the story reading and the sing song. That’s what makes the difference and that’s what we have done every day for the last ten years.
I learned that the nursery world is not a job, its a vocation. I and my practitioners have felt the joy as a child counts to 10. We have felt the tears as a child moves on to school. We have felt the anger at local authorities who are failing children with addition needs. We have felt the love that is portrayed upon us by the children in our care. We have felt the warm tingle as the children come running in shouting our name and telling us of the huge red bus they just saw. We have felt the pride as the children reach their milestones and goals. All things that you feel for your own child but I never realised you could feel for so many others.
I could write about my love for Apple Trees forever. I’m so proud of where we are and I’m excited for where we will go. There is so much more to come. From the bottom of my heart I want to thank each and every person that has been a part of our journey. Your support, encouragement and help has been invaluable. We would not still be here without you. It’s been an amazing ride, lets buckle in for the next 10!!
Until next time,