Some Core Concepts of Being an Early Years Practitioner
Starting out as an early years practitioner can be daunting – there are so many things to be aware of and think about, even before a child steps through the door!
To help, That Nursery Life have put together a list of some of the core concepts of early years practice!
Following the very basics
The basic role of an early years practitioner is meeting the absolute basic needs for the children in your care. These include feeding them, making sure they have access to water, changing nappies, taking them to the toilet and helping them get good-quality sleep. You should do your utmost to ensure the children in your setting are safe and looked after.
Through your induction, training and experience, you should learn to recognise the signs of a child in danger or suffering abuse. A good early years practitioner is constantly vigilant for any signs that a child is not completely safe, whether that’s from family members, people outside the family or other early years practitioners.
Whether you’re following Development Matters or another framework, you should know how to, according to your setting’s policies, monitor and record the developmental milestones of your early years.
Whether it’s record-keeping or risk assessments, there is a lot of paperwork to do as an early years practitioner. Make sure you’re up to date and completing it properly (if starting out, get a colleague/manager to check it over) to ensure nothing is missed.
Participating in relevant training
We should always want to learn more about how to look after our early years well. Training courses are an excellent opportunity to gain some extra knowledge and get a few more accreditations under your belt. While a basic understanding of first aid is essential, you never know when what you’ve learned on a fully-licensed course might just come in handy!
Getting to know children and families properly
Becoming familiar with children is an obvious one – the stronger the relationship between you and your early years, the more comfortable they feel and the more equipped you are to monitor their progress. However, familiarity with their families is also invaluable. This encourages open communication so you can work together towards the best outcome for their child.
Coming up with activities
Keeping your early years entertained as well as ensuring they’re learning is a constant project. Your role is to ensure they’re engaged and as enthusiastic as possible about the activities you’re doing in your setting, and that those activities are age-appropriate and educational, as well as fun.
Familiarising yourself with the EYFS
The Early Years Statutory Framework is the government’s statutory guidance for the standards that school and childcare providers must meet for the learning, development and care of children from birth to 5. Knowing what this framework covers is essential to maintaining good practice in your setting.
Being resilient in the face of criticism
When you’re a new practitioner you’ll be surrounded by people who have a wealth of knowledge and experience. While this is helpful in learning your role, criticism (or perceived criticism) can feel demoralising or sometimes insulting. Try to make sure you see constructive criticism as an opportunity to learn, even if you don’t appreciate it at the time!
As psychological and scientific advancements are made, we are constantly learning more about how our children learn and grow. Because of this, we must constantly be open to new ideas and learning to make sure we’re doing the best for our little ones.
Keeping work at work
It’s very easy to get into bad habits like taking paperwork home to finish. While the intentions are good (you want to get everything done!), extending your work into home life will just lead to stress and burnout. Instead, do your best to get everything done within work hours and, if you’re really struggling, talk to your manager. If it can’t be done in the allotted time then there’s too much to do.
Communication is key – with your early years, your colleagues, your managers and with parents. Being able to talk honestly about your work and how your little ones are doing will make your life a lot easier. Be honest about mistakes – being able to own up to things will make people trust you more in the long run. If everyone knows what’s going on and how you’re doing, there is much less room for errors or things being missed – including your own wellbeing!
Asking for help
Whether you’re in your first EY role or you’ve been practicing for years, we all need to be reminded about this one. Asking for help can be scary – you may feel it shows a lack of ability or understanding. But we all need some help sometimes. Communicating effectively (as previously mentioned) will help with this one as a good atmosphere of open communication in your setting will allow for more collaboration between practitioners and make it easier to seek assistance if needed.
From your timetable to your classroom, organisation is key! Even if it means an extra few minutes of tidying up after a long day, it’ll be worth it when you’re keeping an eye on a group of children and suddenly need to find something!
Being a good role model
Children in our settings spend a large portion of their time with us and our behaviour affects them as much as our actual teaching time. Your attitude, outlook on the day, approach to resolving conflicts and the way you interact with other practitioners are all vital things that children can learn good, or bad, habits from. They are always watching!