Naomi: Early Years Assistant and room leader
‘It is completely different to anything that I have done before, but it is something that I really enjoy.’
Naomi Trussler is an Early Years Assistant with a Level 2 Qualification. She works at a brand-new school campus which caters for children aged between 2 and 16 years.
Naomi is currently the room leader for children aged two. She is working towards her Level 3 Qualification, which will enable her to work independently when needed. When she’s not at work, Naomi is studying or looking after her own two children.
Naomi explains how she came to be an Early Years Assistant and the opportunities that arose on the way:
“I don’t have a background in childcare, as I used to work at a solicitor’s practice. My husband is in the military and so after I met him we moved away from Devon to Hampshire. Not long after that, I fell pregnant with my son and stayed at home to look after him. When the time came to go back to work, I realised that I wasn’t sure about going back into the solicitor side of things.
When I started to look around, I spoke to one of the military childcare centres that was looking after my son. I got to know them as a parent and they told me that I should go for a post there, which was for an Early Years Assistant looking to do a Level 2 Qualification and that’s what I did.
I took a view of ‘let’s just see how it goes’ and from the minute I did it – I loved it. I’ve never wanted to deviate away from it and thought ‘why didn’t I do it sooner?’
My son went into the baby room, I went into the toddler room and then I did a night at college each week to work towards my qualification. It is completely different to anything that I have done before, but it is something that I enjoy. When we moved back, I started working at the campus and now we’re here to stay!”’.
Naomi could draw on her own family experiences and those gained at the military childcare centres, to help her at her current setting:
“Because we moved around so much due to the army, I did think ‘Is this something that I really can do?’. I thought that perhaps childminding at home would be the most suitable option as I knew that I wanted to stay within the childcare field.
But whilst it is lovely to be with the children, when you are childminding you are mostly on your own and I am a real people-person. When you’re in a setting then you have colleagues that share ideas with you and they can help you progress by their experiences, so on reflection, I’m glad I stayed within a setting.
Because I started in the military childcare centre, I was aware that a lot of children attending there could be a bit unsettled, either because they had just moved to the area or their mum or dad may be going away with their job.
That was a good experience for me. To learn how to settle children and to draw on that for the future. Now when I see parents nervous about leaving their children or the children feeling nervous about starting, I know how to handle it, so that’s been very good”.
Naomi found parts of the role surprised her….and there are further little surprises every day!
“The biggest thing for me is that this isn’t a 9-5 job. You don’t just ‘do your job’ and then come away. You are constantly thinking about the next day and which activities you are going to do. Or there may be a certain child, where you think about how can you progress them and so that was quite surprising how much you think about it.
I do love it, though. I love the most challenging children (my little loveable rogues!) I love the fact that you don’t know what to expect each day and I love the things that children come out with. I just enjoy the fact that no two days are ever the same.”
Naomi felt supported during her training and values her co-workers advice and experience. She feels that there is also plenty of scope to progress.
“When I started I had a year’s experience of someone else running the two-year-old room and it was lovely to work alongside a qualified teacher. Having those other people around you make you look at how you would go about certain activities to achieve certain a goal with a child. They can help you see things from a different angle and then the outcome might be better. It’s vital for me to have those people to fall back on for support.
This year I was offered the chance to run the room, so I am now working toward my Level 3 Qualification which I do in my own time. My assessor comes out to me in the workplace and sees how I relay my activities to the children. If you’re willing to put the work in, there’s plenty of room for progression or the opportunity to specialise in different areas.
I know people who are progressing in the behavioural or physical education side of things so it’s what suits you or what you are interested in. We always have a yearly chat where the team asks you about your own ambitions and then think about how they can support you best so you can become a better Practitioner”.
Looking after two-year-olds, of course, brings its own challenges…and rewards!
“When you are caring for two-year-olds, you have never got enough sets of eyes! At this stage, they are just trying to find their own personalities, they still want to do things their way, may not wish to share and can’t focus for too long, so it’s about finding ways to deal with this and cope with their emotions
What is so rewarding is seeing how they do progress, how quickly they develop their social, communication and language skills to become ready for the 3-4-year-old room. You must make sure that the quieter ones aren’t missed and provide activities that are suitable for them as well as the loveable rogues!
Their confidence and social skills grow as you look after them. They may not always want to talk in ‘circle time’ or they don’t want to share immediately, but as you go on and provide activities that they can participate in, or just watch, then they grow and flourish. That’s the joy for me and the rate of development is incredible. It’s a nice thing to witness”.
For anyone that is thinking of retraining to become an Early Years Practitioner, Naomi outlines the qualities that she believes that you need to have:
“I think you must be prepared to be a child again! Just put yourself in the child’s position. Would you want to come into the room? What would you find exciting? Try and look through their eyes. You also should be creative to get the learning points across in a way that the children will be enthused about. It also helps if you are enthusiastic and have high levels of energy when required so that the room stays upbeat and happy.
It does help if you have lots of positivity to make sure that they are in an exciting environment to play, learn and to soak everything up. It also helps if you are adaptable to different situations and possess an abundance of patience!
There are days though when it’s just worth it. Today, one of the boys told me I was his best friend. Then he told his mum that I was his best friend because I had a new toaster! I don’t of course but I had let him press the lever down when we were making toast in breakfast club, so that did make me smile.
Naomi summarises why the job is perfect for her:
“You never know what they are going to say or come out with, which makes it fun and it is so rewarding when then they are pleased to see you and want to give YOU a cuddle. When you’ve done all the paperwork and planning and you’re sitting and watching the joy on their faces in the activities you have planned, then that’s a rewarding thing.
The job is so flexible for me too. I choose to start early but I also finish early so that I can pick my own children up and that’s a huge thing for me. I want to be there for my own children too at the end of the day. I also work term-time only, so I don’t have to worry about organising childcare for my own children during the holidays which is a positive. It fits with my own family and my own commitments.
It’s classed as a job but as you build your career, that has a massive impact on nurturing other people’s children and helping them to develop, learn and build their social skills, personality, and everything”.