With Dan Rubin as our fam­i­ly’s usabil­i­ty guru, we are hard pressed not to dis­cuss his work as it relates to every aspect of our own dai­ly lives!

I think about usabil­i­ty and func­tion­al­i­ty every day at work. The chil­dren I care for range in age from infants to 3 years old. I usu­al­ly work with a group of 30 month old ‘tod­dlers’ with a cou­ple of 18 month olds thrown in just to keep me on my toes!

Occa­sion­al­ly I may work with the infants or 3 year olds if need­ed. Three sit­u­a­tions stood out yesterday.

1. I briefly stood beside a chang­ing table with a 6‑week-old infant while his teacher went to get a change of out­fit. Goes to func­tion­al­i­ty of the facil­i­ty and user aware­ness (or lack there­of) of the teacher since she had­n’t planned to have the ‘mate­ri­als’ she need­ed with her pri­or to pick­ing up the infant to change him — goes to ‘order of operation’.

What I par­tic­u­lar­ly noticed about the loca­tion of the chang­ing table was that there was a light glar­ing on the infan­t’s face from the ceil­ing above. While the infant was see­ing the glare he could­n’t see­ing any­thing of my face; I was in shad­ow — ever tried dri­ving (as I did com­ing home yes­ter­day) with the sun glar­ing in your eyes? You see NOTHING!

I tried to shield the infan­t’s eyes as I was talk­ing to him in those two min­utes but it was a challenge.

If that were my class­room it would be fixed — but it’s not my classroom.

2. A cou­ple of our 3 year olds aren’t ready to nap at 12.30 pm — the pre­scribed time (by school plan and lunch breaks need­ed for teach­ers) for nap­ping. Their teacher spent a frus­trat­ing one hour plus with chat­ter­ing 3 year olds and then end­ed up dis­ci­plin­ing the worst cul­prit by plac­ing him in the office for most of the rest of the day.

This is ‘user error’. The school and the teacher both have it wrong and the child is suf­fer­ing. My sug­ges­tion was to keep these chil­dren out­side for longer at lunchtime such that they are tru­ly tired and ready to relax when they come inside to rest. We might try it next week.

3. Most of our 30 month olds are still in nap­pies (dia­pers), many can use the toi­let at home and do on occa­sion in school — but school is more stress­ful and rushed so it does­n’t always hap­pen in a calm and easy manner. 

Since we are still chang­ing BM’s in nap­pies it is essen­tial that every child gets changed as soon as we observe the need — that’s sim­ply basic health, hygiene and at the root of toi­let learn­ing. My favourite phrase after every change is: “Isn’t it nice to be clean and dry?” — I’m encour­ag­ing ‘toi­let learning’.

How­ev­er, hav­ing no regard to the users — teacher and child — our boss said that logistically/staffing wise imme­di­ate atten­tion to the child with a BM in its nap­py just does­n’t work, there­fore the child has to wait until the time for group changing!

Does­n’t work for me and I won’t be a par­ty to that point of view or behaviour.

Users, func­tion­al­i­ty — in child­care it’s just not work­ing, for the car­ing staff and def­i­nite­ly not for the children. 

And you may ask “Why do we have so many devel­op­men­tal delays in ear­ly child­hood?” and “Why do you write about the caus­es for devel­op­men­tal delays?”

Start read­ing between the lines and you will find some answers, on this blog and elsewhere.