Not sure what to expect? Here’s a quick rundown of a day in the life of an Early Learning professional as well as advice on the types of jobs available and the qualifications you could gain.
A day in the life of an Early Learning professional
Each nursery and childcare centre does things differently but here’s what you might expect from an average day working in childcare.
You’ll help set up and run a variety of activities and games for groups as well as individual children. There could be a trip outside on the go – or a game of counting hopscotch, a time for stories, growing plants from a seed – every day is different.
Whatever happens, you’ll get the chance to put ideas in the mix and work with your team to decide how to structure the day. It’s all about making sure the children are stimulated, happy and learning vital life skills along the way.
Now for a bit of lunch. This is often followed by some quiet time which could be reading a story together or putting on a puppet show.
Hand painting anyone? You’ll already have a plan of action for the afternoon with every single activity designed to help the children learn and develop new skills. So, what might seem like a simple game of den building could be helping their motor skills and coordination to develop, as well as their creativity and imagination.
Now it’s time to let the parents and carers take over again. Inevitably some of the children won’t want to leave because they’ve had such a good time with you. You’ll often have a quick chat with the parents and carers to give them a quick update on how their child is doing and what sort of day they’ve had.
After they’ve all gone, you might have a team meeting where you’ll discuss the children and how they are progressing. You might also start planning fun and engaging activities to try in the days and weeks ahead.
Connor, aged 22, Early Learning and Childcare Apprentice
“For anyone thinking about a career in Early Learning and Childcare, I’d say you should go for it. You need to have the patience to do it, because it’s not always an easy job, but if you think it’s for you, just do it.”
What jobs are there in Early Learning and Childcare?
There are a range of different jobs you can do, working in a number of settings. The settings could range from a traditional nursery, to a playgroup, to childminding. These are (essentially) the same thing – a place where our young children are nurtured and cared for and where they begin their learning journey with professional staff.
There are opportunities all over the country. And, the qualifications you need vary depending on the different roles. Here are some examples of the main roles in the ELC sector.
- Support Worker
As a Support Worker you’ll spend your day looking after small children – playing, caring for them, and making sure they are learning lots. This is an ‘entry level’ role and it’s a great way to get started in Early Learning and Childcare and train while you work.
As an Early Learning and Childcare Practitioner you’ll be responsible for meeting the care, support and learning needs of the children in your care. It will be your job to make sure the children are all constantly developing and learning – you’ll often work with other practitioners and families to do this. Most school leavers will find that Practitioner is the right role for them.
As a Manager (or Lead Practitioner) you’ll be tasked with the overall development, management and quality of the childcare provided. It will be your job to lead a group of staff, budgets, planning, and the bigger decision making in the nursery. You’ll also keep a close eye on each child’s development and will take the lead on positive and caring relationships with each child and their family.
What qualifications do I need?
Whether you’re a school leaver or going for your first job, there are different ways that you can get a job in Early Learning and Childcare. It’s also worth knowing that there will also be a chance to learn skills and get formal childcare qualifications while you work. There are loads of routes into childcare – so there’s bound to be a way in that suits your needs and goals.
Where else can I go for advice?
Your careers adviser at school will be able to give you good advice. And you’ll find some really useful careers information online too. Talking to family and friends – especially if there’s someone you know who already works in Early Learning and Childcare is also helpful.