Running a nursery is hard work but can be very rewarding if you love children and seeing them develop, find out about The Woodland Nursery experience.
What’s your business called?
The Woodland Nursery.
Can you describe it in one sentence?
We are the first outdoor nursery in South East London for 2.5 – 5 year olds based on the Forest School ethos that the closer to nature children are, the happier they will be and therefore the more likely they are to learn.
When did you start it and what inspired you?
The Woodland Nursery opened it’s virtual doors in April 2015. The idea for the nursery first came about by simply observing how much my three sons thrived in an outdoors environment. They were happier, more creative, more communicative and generally seemed ‘at home’ out in the open rather than being cooped up inside.
How did you fund your start up?
I used some savings together with a government start up loan.
How do you manage working around your children while running a nursery?
I have three young boys and chose to open my nursery from 9am – 3:30pm so I am still able to do the school run with my two eldest sons. My youngest son accompanies me alongside the other nursery children.
Can you describe a typical day?
My assistant, Laura, welcomes the parents and children to the morning session at our purpose built indoor space (‘base camp’) while I take my two eldest sons to school. When I get back the children change into their waterproofs, we collect whatever equipment we need for the session and then head off into either nearby woodland, a local farm or park. Once there the children engage in various outdoor activities of a multi-sensory nature, designed to encourage learning in all areas. The set their own boundaries and take their own risks but within our supervised guidelines. After snacks and stories we head back to base camp to collect the children for the afternoon session and repeat the process. At the end of the session, we return to base camp and wait for the parents to collect their children. I then head off to collect my own children from school while Laura finishes up and gets everything ready for the following day. If we have a spare session, we spend our time either catching up on administration or planning future sessions/new activities.
What have you found hardest about running a nursery?
Dealing with all the administration that goes into running your own business. I initially underestimated just how much there is to do as I was so focused on the Forest School sessions with the children that I forgot to take a step back and look at how everything would fit together.
What’s the best thing about being self employed?
Apart from having the freedom to make important decisions concerning which way the business will go and not being answerable to anyone but myself, the feeling of accomplishment as it’s incredibly satisfying knowing that all my hard work and sleepless nights have finally paid off.
What are your plans for the future?
I am looking to acquire a site where we can leave all our equipment permanently set up. As well as saving us valuable travelling time and not having to erect and dismantle the equipment, it will also enable us to progress to more advanced levels of activities with the children such as fire making and using tools. I plan to expand the nursery and employ more staff as time goes on so we can offer our unique nursery environment to more and more children. I also have long term plans to start another business once this one is fully established.
What advice would you give for someone just starting out?
Thoroughly research your idea to see if it’s viable. Listen to advice from varying sources and make sure you utilize all resource available to you. Once you have your great idea, make sure you do your homework properly in order to get it off the ground. Don’t skimp on anything, especially the boring bits (of which there will be more than you think). By doing this you will save yourself a lot of time and effort further down the line and be sound in the knowledge that you have given yourself the best possible start towards your business being a great success.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?
If you believe enough in what you are doing and have enough passion, you will succeed and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. If I can start and run my own business with three young children to look after then so can anyone. Good luck!
If you think childcare might be for you but you don’t fancy running a nursery, check out our post about becoming a childminder.
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