Are you positive and passionate? Do you want to inspire children and families with ideas that make big dreams a reality? If so, then a career as an early years educator could be for you.
As a parent, sending your child to nursery can be a daunting experience, but early years educators get to know each child and family to make nursery life as smooth as possible. They support children to learn and develop safely, and most importantly, to have fun.
So, if you’re looking for a new role that will help to prepare children for life in an ever-changing world, find out how you can get started below…
What do early years educators do?
Early years educators work with children in nurseries, which may be run by schools, community groups, or private businesses.
Their key responsibility is to make sure that every child in their care is safe, happy, and feels inspired to dream big and think creatively.
They may do this by…
- Helping children learn through play.
- Organising and/or supervising trips and days out.
- Writing reports based on their own observations of the children.
- Supporting and encouraging children’s development in a range of different areas, for example, helping them develop their literacy and numeracy skills, as well as their social and emotional skills.
- Maintaining excellent relationships with families to bridge the gap between home and nursery. They might do this by arranging a virtual home visit to get to know a family, sharing pictures of nursery outings, or discussing a child’s daily adventures at home time.
- Making sure internal nursery policies and procedures are adhered to and follow Ofsted and Government guidelines. Continually working with other colleagues, parents/carers, and other professionals to meet the needs of every child, taking a diverse and inclusive approach is maintained at all times.
- Having lots of fun…laughter is key!
What skills do I need to become an early years educator?
One of the most common routes into early years education is via assistant or apprenticeship roles. To succeed in these roles, the right person will…
- Enjoy spending time around young children.
- Be positive and passionate, with a caring nature.
- Be committed and hardworking with good reasoning and problem-solving skills.
- Be able to remain patient and keep calm in high-pressure situations, for example, if a child becomes injured or unwell.
- Have the ability to work well within a team.
What will I love about being an early years educator?
- The chance to help shape the first few years of a child’s life, as this can be incredibly rewarding – and chances are, you’ve got plenty of life experience that can be used to enrich learning opportunities for children.
- No two days will be the same as you introduce children to the world around them and prepare bespoke learning experiences to extend their learning.
- There are shift patterns available, allowing you plenty of flexibility. You could even choose to become a member of the Nursery Bank team, meaning that you’re there to support as and when required, on a day-to-day or week-to-week basis.
- Working as part of a close-knit team where you all share a passion for helping to support and inspire children.
- It can be great fun. Where else would you get to go back to your childish days of finger paint and playdough?!
- It’s a role that many people are able to do in their local area, meaning that you could spend less time commuting.
- Drinking imaginary cups of tea, baking invisible cakes, and becoming an astronaut for a day…
What are the challenges of being an early years educator?
- Working with children can be physically and mentally demanding. It can help that you’ll always be working within a team and reasonable adjustments can be made if needed – but you can count on your days being pretty full of activity.
- Some children have complex needs (for example, learning and/or behavioural difficulties) and finding solutions to these issues is not always straightforward. However, most nurseries tend to have procedures or guidelines in place which can help with this and you may also receive support from external professionals like nurses, psychologists, and social workers.
How much will I earn as an early years educator?
As an early years educator in the UK, you could earn an annual salary of anywhere between £25,714 and £36,961, depending on location and experience.
Some nurseries may also offer additional employee support – especially when it comes to health and wellbeing.
For example, age-diverse employer, N Family Club offers mindfulness apps, an employee assistance scheme, reasonable adjustments, discretionary and sick leave, as well as health and menopause support. Plus, they offer performance-related bonuses, free on-site lunch and drinks, and opportunities for further training and development.
Are there opportunities to progress?
Early years educators sometimes go on to become room managers – or into deputy or nursery manager positions.
With N Family Club, there are also opportunities to become specialists, for example, Spanish teachers or mental health first aiders.
How do I get started as an early years educator?
If you’re new to early years education, then the most straightforward route is to apply for a role as an assistant educator or to start an apprenticeship and work your way up – as you don’t need a qualification or experience for this.
For example, N Family Club offers an over 50s apprenticeship programme, which is fully funded and leads to an industry-recognised qualification. You’ll be paid a salary and fully supported to make sure you develop all the knowledge and skills to restart your career in early years education.
For most other nursery roles, you’ll usually have a significant advantage if you already have some experience working in childcare or an educational setting (either paid or unpaid), combined with Level 2/3 or above Early Years Qualifications.
You may also have an advantage if you have a qualification in…
- Level 1 or equivalent in childcare. Colleges and adult education centres often run a one-year course that will teach you about the growth and development of young children and how to create and run activities that will help with their development. You’ll also gain a greater awareness of equality, communication, and health and safety. To find out more about which courses may be available near you, it’s best to contact your nearest college or adult education centre.
- Paediatric first aid. St John’s Ambulance offers a two-day course – in various locations across the country – which meets the Ofsted Early Years and Childcare Register requirements, which could increase your confidence when caring for children and may boost your chances of getting hired.
If you don’t have much experience working with children and aren’t sure whether this could be the role for you, then it’s worth contacting your local nursery to see whether you can help out on a voluntary basis for a few days a week.
This is also a great way to build your confidence in childcare and get a better idea of what it’s like – plus, you’ll probably find that they’ll be grateful for the support!
Interested in a career as an early years educator?
You can find out more about N Family Club and what they have to offer using the button below.
Or, for those who’d like to kickstart their journey today and apply for a role as an apprentice in early years education…