Bethan: loving her career that fits with life
“There are always new challenges to keep you on your toes each day and it’s really rewarding to see the children grow up.”
21-year-old Bethan Hallett is an Early Years Assistant at a pre-school setting located on the same site as a primary school. Bethan has been working with children for three years and is just awaiting the outcome of her Level 3 Qualification. Her day-to-day role involves caring for pre-school children and looking after 5-11 year olds in before and after-school care.
When she’s not at pre-school, Bethan takes part in BMX racing at a National Level and coaches children who take part in the sport too.
Bethan explains in her own words how she became an assistant at a pre-school:
“Because of my BMX racing hobby, I went to college in Exeter and did a ‘Sports Performance and Excellence’ course for two years. I have been taking part in sport all my life. Then I got a place at Uni, but rather than go straight back into education I decided to defer it for a year. Through a family connection, I started to temporarily help at a ‘holiday club’ whilst I worked out what to do next.
Some of the other ladies working at the holiday club really liked me being there. They liked how I worked with the children and my enthusiasm. Then they suggested that I went back there for longer as they needed some extra staff. I didn’t realise that I would enjoy it as much as I did!
I really enjoyed being with the children and watching them learn. Now I’ve been there for three years! I didn’t imagine that it would turn out the way it did and I really enjoy it”.
Bethan’s keen interest in sports performance and her professional hobby has helped her in her new career:
“I get the opportunity to implement what I have learned from my course in different ways. It involved a lot of psychology and so I can relate to the children on how they are learning. It was also really nice to be able to confidently do physical education with them and I also help the children to eat healthily, as I studied nutrition as part of my course.
My sports qualification was level 3 and it meant that I could go straight to working towards an Early Years Level 3 Qualification. I had lots of on-the-job training through the staff and with my tutor who comes out to me every month, sets me work for the next month and observes me and gives me feedback.
I’ve just handed my final bit of coursework in and I am waiting for the results to come back. Level 3 will mean that I will be able to work independently with children and I don’t always have to have another member of staff with me”.
Bethan’s setting gives her lots of flexibility to be able to work with children at different ages and also see how they grow and flourish…from babies to 11 year olds.
“We currently have 16 pre-school children on role and a further 5 babies in our Bumble Room that caters for under 2s. Our setting is open from 7.45am until 6pm, as we have a breakfast and after-school club too, so this includes 30 school-aged children over the course of the week.
I start at 7.45am and do breakfast club, making sure that the children are fed, ready for school and then once they have gone, I set up the room for the pre-school children. We make them feel welcome and ready to enjoy the activities we have planned.
There’s lots of playing, snack and teaching them about responsibilities. When to share and when not to share, and really making sure that they are all learning.
We eat our own dinner with the children and then do further focused activities. We’ll go for a walk, go outside on the playground. We are all good at working together as a team so we discuss what we want to do. Because of my experience, the rest of the team can come and ask my advice about physical development, how best to promote it and deliver it in a fun way. We’ve had children that have been overweight and so my knowledge about nutrition and exercise was useful and helpful when giving additional support to these parents.
The other staff all know I love being creative and I enjoy doing the research to find new creative activities, then sharing these with the staff and implementing them with the children”.
When Bethan embarked on her career, she had an open mind about what to expect and took any challenges in her stride:
“I think the challenging part of the job is keeping up with the new criteria. Because there are always developments in Early Years, you need to keep up with the new ways of teaching children. But actually when you play well and alongside the children, you realise that they are learning quite a lot. You have to mark all the progress and decide on the appropriate next steps and how to support them to meet these. So there is some paperwork, but once you get your head around it, it’s not too bad and the setting gives you time to be able to figure it all out and complete it.
What I really like though is watching the children and seeing how they grow. When you first welcome them into your setting through to seeing them go off to school. I really like how you see them flourish, how they have grown up and how confident they have become. It’s seeing the progress in the children that I really like.
We’ve recently had some of our children who have moved up to school but they come back for after-school care and it’s really rewarding to see them and to talk to them about how they are doing”.
Bethan believes that this a great job with plenty of opportunities and training:
“I think that this is a great career and that’s why I took my qualifications. My Level 3 Qualification means that I can have flexibility across settings and care for different ages of children. It’s transferrable, so I can move from young preschool children into schools or holidays clubs.
There are lots of development opportunities too. We do a lot of training within our setting and we learn from other members of staff who have been on a course. We’ve just done a first–aid course at our setting and also completed an Autism Awareness Course. Training can even just come in the form of when one of the other members of staff gives you feedback”.
Bethan has advice for anyone considering a job as an Early Years Practitioner and what skills and personality traits you should have:
“If you’re looking to work with children, you need to be friendly and willing to be able to get on with people, including the parents.
This is important as the parent’s view of the practitioner will have a bearing on their view of the setting. So even if you don’t get on with the parent outside the setting, you need to put that aside when you’re at work. You also need to be supportive, professional and be happy!
It also helps if you’re quite independent so you know when you just need to do something and work on your own initiative.
There are always new challenges to keep you on your toes each day and it’s really rewarding to see the children grow up. It’s a happy setting to be at work and it always makes me smile when the children come in in the morning and they act like they haven’t seen you for ages and give you a massive cuddle!
The Devon Jobs Website is useful for looking for a job in childcare, as you can look at all the different sectors that you can go into”.
For Bethan, the role has provided many benefits:
“This job also fits with my hobby. I sometimes have to drive up-country for BMX competitions and it helps that I can swap days and hours.
I’m on a 16-hour contract which works really well for me as it’s up to me whether I work holidays or not. I can request more hours and work in the holiday club, which I usually do. The setting also gives me at least ½ day off each week, because they know I need to do my qualifications.
As I have been doing my qualifications I have built my future and my career, but we’ve also nurtured the children because as I have become more qualified, I have understood how to teach them and how to play with them and help them achieve something.