For those of you considering working within the early years sector of childcare, it is a good idea to know what to expect before you take the leap!
And for those already working within the area, you may wish to take a moment to remember why it is such a rewarding role.
Yes, the hours can be long, and expectations placed on settings from Ofsted can be take up valuable time spent with the kids, but if you see beyond this, it is without doubt a rewarding area to work within.
So why is it so enjoyable?
Using your own initiative in building truly creative play environments for the children is at the centre of everything you will do throughout the day. One moment you may be facilitating a water-based sensory activity with a small group, and the next you may be reading an educational book to the whole class.
Do not expect to be playing with them all day. Instead, the art is to facilitate their play. Know when to interact and to guide them along the way. Choosing age-appropriate child and adult-led activities is where you will see them thrive.
Observing children in full play mode is one of the greatest things you can see in any nanny job.
If your long-term intention is to work in early years for many years, you will undoubtedly form many bonds with the kids. You will see them progress in the key developmental areas laid down by Ofsted. Seeing the journey of a toddler who enters the setting as a shy, nervous person, and subsequently watching them leave for the big wide world of school full of confidence, is truly rewarding.
Watching children learn and play is an unparalleled experience
Not only are you helping shape the next generation of children, but you find yourself evolving as an adult also. Your natural ability with children will shine; your communication skills will improve by conversing with parents and carers daily.
Children can bring challenges, so your own confidence in dealing with challenging situations will improve – as will your assertiveness.
Your ability to work for a team will increase as you will all need to work from the same page every day. One day you may oversee setting-up play activities, the next you may be in charge of nappies and lunch.
If you are lucky enough to work in a setting with plenty of outdoor space, you will find yourself outside most days – in all weathers. This is where children (and practitioners) can flourish the most.
The setting may adopt a ‘Forest School’ approach which means lots of mud and bugs. A woodland walk may be on the agenda one minute, followed by planting flowers.
The outdoors is limitless for an early years practitioner – as well as the creativity of a child.
At the end of a very long day, you may feel exhausted. This is a good thing. It means you have worked hard in inspiring children. Remember, you are making a difference to children and families’ lives. Some families have no choice but to place their little ones into a nursery full-time - and may be riddled with parent guilt. But showing them the progress their child has made is a priceless duty you are fulfilling, and they (and their child) are truly thankful for.
Just seeing a child run up to you at the beginning of the day means you are doing a great job!