In this week’s post, we explore the skills and qualifications you need to be a nursery nurse or assistant. Nursery assistants are compassionate and patient with young children, attending to their everyday needs and preparing them for the foundation stage. In this role, you would work with children up to the age of seven. As well as planning fun and educational activities, nursery assistants prepare snacks and meals and monitor the safety of the children. Additionally, they may keep records of the children under their care and report any concerns as they arise to the nursery teacher and manager.
Although they typically work in nurseries, nursery assistants may also work in community groups, preschools, facilities for looked after children and other pre-school settings. Working hours will vary depending on the setting, but nursery assistants often work nine-to-five schedules with evenings, weekends, and school holidays off.
Keep reading to find out what key skills, personal qualities and qualifications you need to be a nursery nurse…
What qualifications do you need to be a nursery nurse?
It is essential that you have good literacy and numeracy skills. Some employers may ask for GCSEs or equivalent qualifications. A childcare qualification such as an NVQ or BTEC might also be requested by employers. Most employers will look for childcare experience, whether it’s voluntary or paid, including experience within the family or babysitting.
Vitally, you’ll need to have an up-to-date understanding of the latest safeguarding guidance and policy. Prospero has a free online course that you can take to receive a certificate equivalent to an Introduction to Safeguarding Young People Certificate.
Can I work in a nursery without qualifications?
For positions such as a nursery assistant or nursery practitioner, the entry requirements will vary. To work within an established team, some employers may look more towards your personal qualities than the academic. It would be worth speaking with a recruitment consultant if you would like more information. Successfully passing safeguarding training will always be mandatory though!
When responding to nursery interview questions, or when writing a nursery nurse cover letter, it would be a good idea to share examples of where you have demonstrated the following skills:
- Skills in childcare
- A compassionate and caring persona
- Patience in stressful situations
- Conflict resolution
Nursery Assistant Duties and Responsibilities
On a typical day, a nursery assistant can expect to carry out the following duties:
Supervising and Monitoring Children
Children’s safety is a top priority for nursery assistants. While children play, eat, or nap, nursery assistants maintain a close watch to prevent accidents. The majority of nursery assistants have CPR and first aid training, although this isn’t required by all facilities.
Organizing Daily Activities
As well as keeping children safe and supervised, nursery assistants also maintain a fun and educational environment for children under their care. They work closely with nursery managers, teachers and supervisors to develop engaging activities. They adapt these programs as needed to help everyone feel included, including children with SEND (Special Educational Needs & Disabilities).
Keeping and Updating Records
Nurseries are busy environments, where staff teams work closely together to keep records of the children’s progress. To meet a child’s needs no matter who is on duty, nursery assistants keep detailed logs of each child – this is often kept in a folder where evidence is collated. Information in these logs may include a child’s attendance, learning goals, food allergies, and any special support the child needs.
Preparing Snacks and Meals
Assistants in nurseries prepare healthy, nutritious meals and snacks with supervision. Children with allergies or dietary concerns are provided with meal alternatives when necessary.
Resolving Any Conflicts Between Children
Children at nursery level are learning to deal with their emotions whilst interacting with other children. The nursery assistant carefully monitors the children under their care for signs of distress. Children are taught to deal with conflict by mediating, compromising, and treating each other with respect. Nursery assistants can also de-escalate temper tantrums when children are hurt or upset.
Maintaining a Sanitary Environment
Nursery assistants clean up after activities or mealtimes before preparing materials for the next activity. Toys, kitchen tools, and other items are usually sanitized before or after the children arrive. A nursery nurse is also responsible for monitoring a child’s personal hygiene by changing dirty or stained clothing where necessary.
Thank you for reading!
If you feel that you have a naturally caring nature with young children, and would enjoy facilitating activities, comforting and resolving conflict among young children whilst taking care of their daily needs this could be the role for you!
Are you interested in nursery assistant jobs or nursery nurse jobs?