Shape our children's worlds with a career in early learning and childcare

There's more to childcare than just building sandcastles, making dens, or doing some glitter painting'¦

Monday, 22nd January 2018, 8:00 am
Lindsey McKinnon who works for Early Years Scotland. (Photograph by Martin Shields)

Early learning professionals are responsible for giving Scotland’s children the best start in life using ideas and activities that help their little personalities grow.

Jake Stefanovic (21) is an early years support worker.

He grew up surrounded by children in a nursery that his parents owned, and once he was old enough he helped out when he could.

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Jake Stefanovic says his role as an early learning and childcare support worker is demanding, but also extremely rewarding. (Photograph: Nick Mailer)

The only male member of staff at the time, Keith, became a role model for Jake and ultimately was an inspiration for him to take up a career in early learning and childcare.

Jake said: “The best thing about the job is the children; you get to build relationships, see them develop and grow, and you can make a real difference.

“What surprised me is the knowledge base you need to do the job well. It is a highly skilled job and you have to know about child development from a theoretical perspective and how this relates to practice.

“You need to know the children really well and be able to understand their needs and how you can support them.

Jake Stefanovic says his role as an early learning and childcare support worker is demanding, but also extremely rewarding. (Photograph: Nick Mailer)

“There is a lot of responsibility in the role, you have a duty of care to keep the children safe as well as motivated and engaged, so it can be demanding at times, but if it is the right job for you then the rewards outweigh the challenges.”

Lindsey McKinnon (23) is an early years practitioner and works for Early Years Scotland.

In her current role, she is able to support many families in different ways and loves being able to interact with children every day.

Lindsey said: “Many of the families whom we work with tell us they enjoy coming along to our groups because it gets them out of the house and gives their children opportunities to interact with other children.

“It feels really special to be supporting those families and it is amazing to see the children develop and achieve different things as they grow.

“Giving parents or carers someone to talk to about what’s happening with their child or helping them with different aspects of parenting is very rewarding.

“It’s not until the parents leave and say ‘thanks so much for all your help today’, or they recommend our groups to their friends, that I realise how much of an impact we have made.”

Career opportunities

There are a variety of careers in early learning and childcare, and opportunities to get on the job training and qualifications.

The qualifications vary depending on the different roles.

Here are some examples of the careers:

• Support Worker: You’ll spend your day looking after small children – playing, caring for them, and making sure they are learning lots.

• Practitioner: You’ll be responsible for meeting the care, support and learning needs of the children you look after. It will be your job to make sure the children are all constantly developing and learning – you’ll often work with other practitioners and families to do this.

• Manager: You’ll be tasked with the overall development, management and quality of the childcare provided. It will be your job to lead a group of staff, budgets, planning, and the bigger decision making in the nursery. You’ll also keep a close eye on each child’s development.

To find out more about a career in early learning and childcare, visit