When I applied to the Early Years Education pathway on Step Forward, I didn’t really know what it meant to be an “Early Years Apprentice”. I knew the general facts and figures but what I really wanted to know was what I would be doing on a daily basis! So I’ve decided to write this blog post describing an average (but not boring!) day in the life of an apprentice Early Years Educator…
Reminder: It’s important to remember that because I will be describing my average day, things may be done a little differently in other early year’s settings!
My official title is “apprentice practitioner”. A practitioner is essentially a teacher for 0-5 year olds, and the main responsibilities will include: caring for the children (supervising their play, changing nappies, etc); observing and recording the developmental progress of a few specific children (otherwise known as key children); and just generally keeping them safe! I know this can sound like a lot to do, but these responsibilities will be introduced gradually rather than all on your first day, and you will also have the support of your peers and mentor back at Step Forward!
So back to me… Depending on my hours, I will get up at 6.20am to get to work for 7.45am; I used to hate the early starts but now I quite enjoy them…once I’m out of bed! When I get to the nursery, I will have 15 minutes to set up, check that the nursery is safe for the children and prepare myself mentally for the day before any children arrive at 8am.
Normally there will only be a few children that arrive before 9am, so I basically just keep them occupied until breakfast at half 8. As more children arrive, I will supervise them during free play (they choose what they play with) until 10am when they sit down for circle time. Circle time is when the children will sit (hopefully quietly) and listen to a short story, then sing some nursery rhymes and maybe do some games to teach them letters/numbers/shapes/colours. I used to hate doing circle time because I was embarrassed of singing in front of my colleagues but I quickly realised that no-one really cares!
Between 10am and 12pm, I supervise snack time and then carry out (or help with) one of the planned activities. These activities normally follow a theme, such as Easter, and can range from painting to making cards. As my setting will only have about 10 children each day, I can really get involved in the activities and ask them questions about what they’re doing or learning – this is one of my favourite parts of my job; interacting with the children! After the activity, they will go outside to play until lunch time and I will do my best to keep the peace – it turns out that small children aren’t great at sharing!
Lunch time can get quite hectic as we have to supervise the older children eating whilst feeding the babies! As each child finishes, we take them to the toilet/change their nappy, brush their teeth and change their clothes before putting them down for their nap. Luckily, every child in the nursery takes a nap which means that we have about an hour and a half to clean the classroom, toilets and kitchen as well as have our lunch break. Not every setting will ask you to help with the cleaning, but my setting doesn’t employ a cleaner so that’s one of my responsibilities – yay! Everyone will use their lunch break differently, but during mine I usually write up some observations, eat my food and just try to remember life outside the nursery!
The children wake up at half 2, so between 2.30-4pm I will do circle time and play with the children until snack time. Parents will normally arrive between 4.30 and 6pm, so the children will play in the classroom as they wait for their parents to arrive. Although the nursery closes at 6, I usually finish work at half 4 so I will head home to watch some Netflix and do some coursework.
So that’s the end of a normal day at work! Even though I had never planned to work with children, and my friends still tell me they can’t imagine me working in a nursery, I really love my job! Although it can be busy and stressful, I do get a lot of cuddles from the babies so it’s not all bad! Like I said, each setting will do things a little differently but I hope this post helped you understand a bit more about the Early Years Education pathway, and hopefully convinced you to apply!