A frequent answer to the question ‘What do you like about your job’ is ‘It’s different every day – no two days are the same’. That makes sense up to a point. It’s hard to imagine loving a job where you do exactly the same thing every day. But would it be great to have a job where you have no idea what to expect when you arrive at work each day? There’s a point beyond which ‘something new every day’ would create stress and uncertainty.
Both ‘too much that’s the same’ and ‘too much that’s different’ can be negatives. As with most things there’s a point in the middle that is ideal.
How would you describe your job on that continuum between ‘everyday the same’ and ‘everyday different’?
What is the same every day and what’s different?
How satisfied are you with the balance of sameness and unexpectedness?
If you’re not satisfied, what can you do about it?
One of the characteristics of comfortable and productive workplaces of any kind is a balance between predictability and novelty. This balance leads to feelings of security on the one hand and interest, novelty, innovation and change that create excitement and maintain enthusiasm on the other. Good quality education and care programs, like all good workplaces, strive for that balance of sameness and change in all levels of service operation — for children, families and employees.
The younger the child the more important predictability is. When children are confident that they know who will be there, what will be there, and how the day will go, they feel secure. Feeling secure empowers them and frees them to learn.
Routine is a good thing in the curriculum – up to a point. However, too much routine can be boring for both children and educators. Some programs are ‘same-old, same-old’ day after day. Whether through weariness or lack of enthusiasm, some educators lapse into ways of working that are perpetuated because they don’t think about them. Pictures on the walls never change, there’s play dough and biscuit cutters on the table every day, the same books are on the shelf for weeks, and the same songs are sung. There’s no joy, no excitement, no surprises.
It’s important to keep in mind that a few modest changes can renew interest – a few new books on the shelf (while leaving the favourites!), new pictures on the wall or one piece of furniture in a new place.
The suggestion is not to make changes for their own sake. There needs to be a purpose that serves children’s learning and wellbeing either directly or indirectly.
In your program, what changes? What stays the same? Most importantly, why?
What is a desirable balance of ‘everyday is the same’ and ‘every day is different’ for the children you work with?’
What would children in your service say? Would they say no two days are the same (as a good thing or a bad thing)?