There is no doubt about it – nursery practitioners have one of the toughest, yet most rewarding jobs going.
Responsible for supporting and guiding children through their preschool years, it is a career that requires dedication, passion and sensitivity.
It goes without saying that you will need to enjoy being around young babies and children if you want to become a nursery practitioner; however, there’s much more to it than that.
Here we explore just what it takes to become a great nursery practitioner.
Nursery practitioner qualifications
More often than not nursery practitioners begin their career working as an assistant within a nursery setting. As an assistant you may be working under supervision and therefore no formal qualifications are required, or you may be working towards a qualification for example completing an apprenticeship.
From 2014 onwards, to become a qualified nursery practitioner you must complete a Level 2 or 3 early years educator award. This teaches a range of skills to enable you to understand the patterns of a child’s development from birth to five years old, plus much more. Holding this level of qualification also means that you will count towards the Department for Education EYFS staff: child ratio.
The Department for Education compiles a list of accepted qualifications which enable you to work in an early years setting, so it is worth checking this list before embarking on a course.
Nursery practitioner skills
As with all jobs, there are some very specific core skills you will require in order to become a great nursery practitioner.
Communication is key here, namely the ability to communicate effectively with young children in order to engage them and connect with them.
This doesn’t come naturally to everyone, and it’s not necessarily something you can learn, so it’s important to consider whether this is something you could bring to the role.
Nursery classrooms can be busy, bustling and often stressful environments, so being able to communicate calmly in a soothing tone is very important.
Going hand in hand with this is patience. Anyone who has been around children knows that things can quickly get out of hand!
Whether it’s drinks being spilled, drawing on walls or a food fight, a nursery practitioner needs to be able to handle these situations in a patient and calm manner.
Similarly, young children take much longer than adults to understand, process and complete a task, so they may well get things wrong and ask the same question multiple times.
It’s in these types of situations that patience is key.
Having a positive, can-do attitude is also a hugely important skill in a nursery practitioner role – children are quick to pick up on stressful, negative energy and will feed off this, so you can easily set a better tone for the day by staying upbeat.
Creativity in a nursery setting helps young minds explore and be imaginative – have you ever been into a nursery with dull, grey walls? Of course not!
Children go to nursery to have fun, engage with other young children and get creative, so it’s important whichever adult they’re with can facilitate this.
Finally (for this article at least – this definitely isn’t an exhaustive list), being organised is key to ensuring all children remain happy and healthy at all times.
There is often a lot going on around you in a nursery with lots of moving parts, so being organised and thorough ensures no-one is going to hurt themselves on a sharp object, slip on a wet floor or fall over.
Children also benefit from having a structure and routine to their day so, as much as they need space to be creative, having things organised keeps them safe and ensures they have everything they need.
How to be a good nursery practitioner
As you will see, there is no one key element that makes a person a great nursery practitioner. Rather it is a combination of skills which, when put together, will help you fulfil the role.
Being a nursery practitioner requires dedication and a real commitment to helping young children grow and thrive – it’s a way of life rather than a job.
The role of nursery practitioner is incredibly varied but also carries huge responsibility, as well as huge reward.
Nursery practitioner jobs
Whether you have years of experience as a nursery practitioner or are just starting out in your career, we’d love to help you find your perfect work balance.
Exeter Supply Partnership offers flexible supply placements within nurseries in Exeter and the surrounding area.
If you’re looking for a job that can work around your family, or want the kind of variety that supply work can offer, then we’d love to hear from you.
It’s easy to get started – simply fill out our online application form and someone from the team will be in touch.
Just so you know, all our nursery practitioners go through a face-to-face interview so we can understand your needs and match you with the perfect nursery setting.