Do you have a calling to work with children? Are you genuinely interested in shaping young minds? All the yelling, wailing and dirty nappies – do they not cause a crease in your brow? Then childcare may just be the right career path for you! Working with children has many rewards. It’s constantly challenging and no one day is the same. Why not get on our childcare courses, learn childcare skills or train for specific areas? Your qualifications will open up doors to jobs in nurseries, pre-schools, out of school clubs or even homes in some exotic country where you can work as an au pair. Or if you’d like to make a difference, there are courses that’ll prepare you to be an effective social support worker or a better teacher.
What sort of childminder are you?
Do you want to be a nanny, a babysitter, a childminder, a teacher, a social worker or perhaps an au pair? Whilst they may all seem the same – working with children, the roles vary as do the responsibilities. Because of that, what you learn in courses will be tailored to the different job roles.
Jo Frost wannabe
How does Jo Frost know that little Harry’s clingy because it’s his mum’s fault? Or that kids throw tantrums because they’re just bored and need to expend their energy in sports? If you want super nanny skills like her, then understanding child psychology might help. Gain an insight into child behaviour, learn basic structure and strategies to manage behaviours, understand social and cognitive psychology, explore child development issues and on a more advanced level, conduct research methods. Some other areas of study include examining theories like Freud and Piaget and looking at the impacts of bullying, family breakdowns and relationships on children.
Is there a Nanny McPhee in you?
If you’re already dabbling with the idea of being a nanny or are already one, you’d know that Nanny McPhee’s magical tricks to ‘tame’ misbehaving children are far from reality. Whilst you may not have a magic staff to discipline or even handle children with behavioural or emotional difficulties, there are loads of courses that’ll train you for such situations. Learn about unwanted behaviours, needs, anger management, social and emotional difficulties and effective ways to support their development. We know that there are parents who expect miracles when they send their children to childminders, so courses are also available to help you communicate and support parents and carers.
Rule 101 of the Kid Book – accidents happen!
It’s important to know and update yourself with other necessary skills when working with children. Knowledge in health and safety, CPR and first aid will keep you calm and confident when accidents happen to children. Keeping children fit and healthy is just as essential, so knowing about diet, nutrition and exercise will be helpful.
Are qualifications necessary?
There’s plenty of career progression offered in childcare. You can start your career with very little experience and study for Level1 - Level3 qualifications whilst studying. You’ll be required to hold GCSE at grade C or above in English and Maths. If you wish to climb the career ladder, higher qualifications will enable you to become a supervisor or a deputy leader. There are many people who set up their own nurseries or school clubs, after obtaining years of experience and various qualifications.
The future of childcare
The government’s committed to making childcare more affordable for parents through childcare vouchers and they’re constantly working on schemes to allow parents to claim back childcare costs. This move will enable both parents to work, which will in turn benefit the UK economy. With these plans in place and regular cash injections for the childcare sector, the childminding industry is set to see wider job opportunities, higher salaries and better regulations.
Children... can be a nightmare!
Think you can work with children? Whilst being passionate is key, we’ve compiled some of their annoying little habits to help prepare you. Here’s what we think TODDLERS really stands for:
T is for TANTRUMS – Tantrums are children’s way of expressing immense frustration and powerlessness. Be emphatic when the child doesn’t want to do something, acknowledge and remain unemotional.
O is for being OLDER and wiser – As they get older, they know how to push your buttons. Keep your cool and stay calm.
D is for being DEMANDING – Children need care and attention 24/7. Being a childminder is a fulltime job, but a very rewarding one.
D is for DEFIANCE – Kids test you all the time even when you say no. Decide what’s important enough to be a rule or routine and this might help you deal with stubbornness.
L is for acting LIKE A BOSS – Children at the age of five tend to boss other younger kids around. This could end up in tears, but behaviours like these are normal as they have understood adult guidelines better, and want to exercise a bit of authority over someone younger.
E is for ENDLESS WHINING – Kids do it because they know it works! Whilst it may set your teeth on edge, never give into whining and get them to speak in a normal voice.
R is for REPULSIVE – They’re cute and cuddly, but they can be disgusting too! Dirty nappies, rolling in mud, food all over the place – the list goes on.
S is for being SELFISH – At the age of two, children tend to yell that everything is ‘mine’ or ‘me’, especially when they’re asked to share toys with others. It’s normal.
Check out our Pinterest for some childcare tips.
When picking up the phone to complete an interview, it’s not often that I change my questions half way through. I had wrongly assumed Kathryn Mewes was the ‘Three Day Nanny’ TV personality, but nothing could be further from the truth. The overwhelming impression I was left with was that the fame, the books and the TV show kind of happened, well, by mistake and Kathryn’s passion for childcare was far more than a job, but a calling. Working as a nanny for fifteen years, Kathryn tells me she was fourteen when she realised she wanted to ‘know how children’s brains worked’.
Launching her Bespoke Nanny service in 2007, Kathryn arrives with her suitcase on a family’s doorstep and lives with them for up to 72 hours whilst helping solve their problem, be it potty training, sleeping or eating patterns or sibling rivalry. It’s clear to see this is a job that Kathryn loves and continues to do, preferably without the camera crew following her. She was friendly, down to earth and easy to talk to despite the echoing phone line and her busy schedule, happily sharing her to childcare tips and the answers to common parenting problems.
So Kathryn after being fascinated from a young age, how did you get into the childcare industry?
When I was at school I completed some work experience shadowing a teacher for two weeks, which I loved, but I knew at that stage I didn’t want to deal with children en masse and I liked focusing in an individual way. I remember my parents sat me in front of the TV and made me watch a documentary on Norland Nannying College and signed me up then, aged fourteen. I started on a three year course when I was eighteen.
After your training how did you become the ‘Three Day Nanny’?
I worked as a nanny for fifteen years and absolutely loved it – it is an occupation I would recommend to anybody; whether you live in or out, you are very well looked after and become part of the family. From watching a child grow you learn so very much about their development as you follow them through life. My fascination changed from children’s brains to the fact that children would do what they are told with me, but not with their parents. I started to go into people’s houses and stay with them until the issue had been resolved – I didn’t have training for this, it just evolved and over a six month period it condensed itself into three days. So I became the three day nanny!
So would you say that childcare is something you learn with experience not in the classroom?
Yes 100% – I can’t remember the last time somebody asked me about my qualifications, people pay for my experience. It’s all about getting your foot in the door and learning onsite when you are with the child. This goes for someone who has studied childcare for six weeks or child psychology on a three year degree programme.
So how did you end up of TV?
I stayed with a journalist and got an article about my work printed in a newspaper; a publishing house read that and asked me to write a book. I then went to a client’s house to work with three older children, not noticing all the BAFTAs on the mantelpiece and just did my job. At the end of it my client said, ‘I have a production company and would like to film what you do because it’s absolutely remarkable.’ I never strived or had any ambition to be on television and it isn’t something I want to do more of, it’s just my job and I’m still doing that today without a camera crew behind me.
So do you ever go back or is your work normally done in 72hours?
I’ll be honest with you, it’s usually finished in two days and by the third they have learnt everything they possibly can. At the end of my service I tell people they have two hours of my telephone time, the majority of the people I don’t hear from for months and then they’ll ring me and ask about another problem – he won’t do his homework, what do we do? Because I know that child’s character, the layout of the home and the parents’ characters I can guide them over the phone and email them a technique. I’d say not even 1% of my clients need me to go back into their home, but it’s often for a different thing because the child is years older.
Getting away from TV then, what is the hardest part of your job?
The children are never my challenge, it’s the parents, and I think anyone in childcare would relate to that – whether you are a nanny or a childminder, a children’s nurse or a tutor – the child is pretty straightforward, it’s the complexities in the parents brain that is very hard. So reassuring and empowering parents is the hardest part of my job.
And what’s the best part, what do you love about working with children every day?
I love teaching children to believe in themselves – there is one word I will not let children use and that is can’t. So empowering children to believe in themselves and to believe that they can do anything in this world if they set their mind to it is the best part.
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about working with children or working in the childcare industry?
Go and get hands on experience as soon as you can, whether that’s babysitting, going into a school or a hospital, get down there on your hands and knees and work with the child – get the experience before you get the paper.
What is the most common mistake you see parents make?
Lack of consistency, they are not doing the same thing over and over again – the hardest thing for a parent to do is to remain consistent. When you don’t remain consistent your child starts to take control and that’s when life goes pear shaped.
Talking to parents in the office, getting children to sleep seems like a big problem, do you see this a lot?
I would say 80% of people I help will have a child that doesn’t sleep and I work with children up to the age of 12 who still sleep in their parents’ beds, or walk the corridors at night. 80% of my work stems from deprivation of sleep in houses; people can’t function when they are tired, so you’ve got parents that are up all night and children who are grotty in the day. It’s extremely challenging and deprivation of sleep is when everything crumbles. There are many reasons why a child can’t sleep and there is never a clear cut answer – my service starts with a parent consultation where I ask questions before telling them why it’s happening and a way to solve the problem.
What is in the pipeline for you in 2014?
I am now back doing my little job which I love very much, my work has returned to London and the home counties so I’m not travelling the world like I did after the TV series. I’ve got a little puppy and also my partner and I are trying for a child ourselves, so my mission now is to build my own family.
Finally, what is the naughtiest thing you ever did as a child?
I’m an only child and was very spoilt, spending a lot of time with my grandparents. I was a vicious biter and bit the end of my grandfather’s nose when I was three and a half - he had to have stitches and grafting and in my mum’s fury she pulled up my sleeve and bit me on the arm. I went to nursery the next day and when my teacher asked what had happened; I told her my mum bit me. We had social services on the door step – Mum just said, ‘Hang let me show you my father’s face,’ and they went, ‘Fair enough,’ and left! That was in the 70s so I guess things must be a bit different today!
If you want to find out more about Kathryn’s work or get in touch, take a look at Bespoke Nanny. If you feel ready to complete your qualifications and start getting experience with children, take a look at the various childcare courses on offer.
This really varies depending on the area you go into. If you’re working in a nursery you’ll earn less than if you’re a nanny. And if you’re a nanny for a very wealthy family you may earn a lot more. It really depends on which employment route you go down. You can explore this more here.
Yes. For many Nanny jobs you won’t even need a qualification, but it will only help if you do have one. Children are not that different regardless of the country they live in so the principles will be the same.
Not exactly. It’s certainly going to look good on a personal statement and will assist with an application, but it’s not a necessity and you’ll still need to complete a degree and postgraduate training before you can become a teacher.
You might want to read up on different theories of child psychology in order to get ahead and you may want to organise a placement in a local nursery or similar. On some of the longer courses you might have a reading list that you will need to buy books from before you start, so it’s good to check with your course provider in advance.
Some of it might be but a lot of it will be more about learning how to interact with children and how their minds work. Generally, there are no actual children involved in a childcare course but a lot of classroom based study, which will include role play and videos as well as reading and writing.
No but it might help if the course you’re applying for is hard to get on. If you can say you’ve done some babysitting for a friend or have children in your family that you regularly spend time with. As long as you can show you’re enthusiastic about children and their development though you won’t need any formal work experience beforehand.
Generally speaking a criminal record shouldn’t stop you from taking a course in childcare, though it may prevent you actually working with children afterwards. Certain offences mean you won’t be able to do this at all, so it’s worth checking beforehand whether the career path you intend to follow will be possible with your record, in which case you might choose to study something else. Your course provider may ask you to declare any unspent convictions on your application but it is against the law for them to discriminate against you on these grounds.
In case you need a little more inspiration, here are some of our favourite photo galleries from course providers offering childcare skills courses...
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Get more ideas and be inspired; we've scoured the web to bring you some of our favourite childcare skills videos...
Back in a time where you spent your days watching ‘Playdays’ and ‘Sabrina the Teenage Witch’, sits a bag of toys the world has forgotten. Whatever happened to Furbys, Tamgotchis and inflatable furniture? To jog your memory and because we think that career in childcare at least partly equals playing with toys for a living, we have come up with the best toys a 90’s child would have played with.
The Furby - all fun and games until it broke and kept you awake all night making terrifying noises
Fisherprice rollerblades – a recipe for disaster and grazed knees
Tamagotchi – fun for the first few days, until the joys of parenthood wore off/ you went to school and it died
Trolls – We found them cute at the time, until their hair got matted and weird
Cabbage Patch Kids – The ready named doll with a big plastic head
Polly Pockets – Losing Polly was a common occurrence
Sylvanian Families – Is it odd we still find these adorable?
Slinky – We all remember the awful moment when it fell down the stairs and got too tangled for words
Koosh ball – Fun for five minutes, instantly forgotten
Rubiks Cube – Peeling off all the stickers with frustration was almost as difficult as trying to solve the puzzle itself
Etch a Sketch – Hours of hard work shaken away by mistake
Game Boy – The portable PlayStation and Xboxes of the nineties
An inflatable chair – The insanely uncomfortable item of furniture we begged our parents for and sat in twice
Inflatable rucksack – Just when you thought the craze was over...
Gooey aliens –We all believed the rumours they could have babies and these became a very short lived craze
B1 doll – Those crazy Bananas in Pyjamas, always chasing teddy bears
Toy Story - Team Buzz or Woody, it was a tough choice
Lava lamp – They took hours to work and would then get insanely hot, usually ending in tears
Skip it – Another playground staple, until children started falling over their own feet and schools reconsidered
My Little Pony – They didn’t do much, but we were obsessed with their rainbow coloured hair
If you fancy taking up a childcare course and shaping the minds of the future through play, take a look at the full time and part time options on offer.
By Hotcourses Editor, 14th July 2011
If you’re a caring, patient person with a desire to teach and help others, then perhaps childcare could be an option for you. A variety of skills are needed to help the next generation to grow physically, emotionally and academically. The early years are very...
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