Those working in this field play a crucial role in shaping the lives of future generations. So whether you are male, female, young, or old it's a career that you can rightly be very proud of.
A career in Early Years is rewarding and profoundly important. Most people who work in the sector love their jobs and look forward to going to work every day. There are few other career choices that will provide as many smiles during the working day and such an important impact on the future.
There are many different roles in the Early Years sector with opportunities for everyone to start a career, whether you want to work full-time, part-time or, initially, to volunteer. If you are interested in management, you could end up being your own boss, running your own nursery, with responsibility for staff, budgets and building effective relationships with parents.
As you progress your career, you could aspire to become an Early Years Teacher (EYT), combining both high-level practitioner skills and leading other practitioners in a variety of settings.
The work you might expect to be involved in when working in Early Years includes:
- encouraging children to develop social skills and discover more about the world through play
- supporting children to explore the outdoors and their community
- helping children to develop number and language skills through a wide variety of activities
- feeding, bathing and dressing babies and youngest children, changing nappies and preparing bottles or baby food
- nurturing children's natural curiosity
- taking care of children's personal needs and helping them to learn to dress themselves, use cutlery and use the lavatory
- ensuring appropriate health and safety and child protection requirements are met
- building relationships with parents and other family members to support their child's development
- observing and assessing children and producing brief written reports
- consulting and attending meetings with other professionals, for example social workers, health workers or speech therapists.
Working with children offers a challenging and immensely rewarding career. You will be playing a key role in helping children develop the social and learning skills required to stand them in good stead throughout their lives.
As well as having energy and enthusiasm, you need to have:
- a genuine liking for and interest in children and their development
- good communication skills with children, mums, dads and other carers
- confidence in yourself
- patience and professionalism
- a helpful, caring and understanding nature.
- an ability to work with parents and carers as well as with children
- a commitment to social inclusion
- the ability to work effectively as part of a team
- a commitment to undertake training and continually improve your practice
- a sense of fun.
The National Careers Service provide helpful information about jobs in early years and childcare
- Nursery assistant, early years educator, pre-school assistant, playgroup assistant, childcare worker
- Early Years Teacher
- Playworker, out of school clubs
- General careers advice - about how to get started, what courses to take
In order to work with children, either as an employee or as a volunteer, you will need to undertake a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check (previously CRB check) Employers will normally help you to arrange this and checks are usually free of charge for volunteers.
See the Disclosure and Barring Service website for more information.
In Oxfordshire, the colleges listed below offer full time qualifications in children’s early education and care.