Background: Working conditions of nursery school teachers have not been scrutinized thoroughly in scientific research. Only a few studies have so far examined work-load and strain in this profession. Preferably, subjective perceptions should be corroborated by data that can be quantified more objectively and accurately. The aim of the present observational field study was to evaluate pedagogical staffs' workflow.
Methods: In 2009 eleven educators in a day care centre were observed throughout three complete workdays. A total of 250 working hours were recorded.
Results: An educators' workday lasted on average 07:46:59 h (SD = 01:01:10 h).Within this time span, an average of 02:20:46 h (30.14%, SD = 00:28:07 h) were spent on caring, 01:44:18 h on playing (22.33%, SD = 00:54:12 h), 00:49:37 h on educational work (10.62%, SD = 00:40:09), and only 00:05:38 h on individual child contact (1.21%, SD = 00:04:58 h).
Conclusion: For the first time, educators' workflow in day care centres was studied in real time. Some of the educators' self-reported problems were corroborated. The results of this study form a basis upon which further investigations can be built and measures can be developed for an overall improvement of child care.