My local nursery, which Léon attends, runs what it calls helper mornings. Every Wednesday since Charlotte was there and possibly longer, each room (containing 50 kids) has allowed two relative helpers to come in and enjoy a morning with the kids. They sign up in advance, so there are never more than two adults and they come in an help the (approx) 7-8 members of staff in each room. Helping means reading the kids a story, or painting with them, playing with lego, singing, sitting around taking part while the kids discuss topics they are studying. Helping doesn't mean being alone with the kids, it doesn't mean taking them to the toilet or out alone for a walk in the woods. It doesn't mean strapping them all into a bus and taking on them for a drive to the local lake.
Many mums, some dads and quite a few grandparents volunteer and the two weekly slots are always full. The kids enjoy it, the adults enjoy it. Six months ago when Thomas's parents were over, Brita signed up to take part. As a minister, she had often worked with kids and was curious to see how nurseries function over here. The kids got to see someone exotic and strange. She got to see the workings of a Scottish State nursery - a win win situation.
But as usual, it was too good to be true. This week we received (completely out of the blue) a new directive from the council. This scheme is being closed down immediately and reopened only to relatives who hold full disclosure certificates - you know the usual police, criminal etc checks you need to be a teacher or childminder. I have no issue with teachers being subjected to criminal checks once to spend a lifetime alone with our kids but forcing Grannies to undergo criminal checking to spend 2 hours supervised with my child is the kind of overkill that will simply mean the Granny won't do it, and the child will miss out on that wider, richer life experience. When are we going to get things back into perspective in this crazy country?