What Makes a Great Nursery Practitioner


Nursery school teacher and child drawing

As a nursery practitioner, your job is very rewarding. When you’re looking after young children, you see them develop and progress through the early stages of their life.

This is such an exciting and important time as it sets the foundation for their future and creates a strong base for further learning.

Many of the skills children learn are not only through classroom activities but also through social interactions with those around them, including eye contact, discussion, and collaborative working.

In turn, this enhances their confidence and independence as they are learning how to integrate into group settings which is especially important when they start school.

These social aspects make the role of a nursery practitioner even more important as they need to be able to connect with young children and create a bond.

The Role of a Nursery Practitioner

An Early Years practitioner is someone who works with children in a nursery or childcare environment. For the first few years of a child’s life, you act as their role model, helping them to understand how to respond to different situations.

This includes demonstrating how they should react to a problem or an unfamiliar situation so they have the necessary coping mechanisms should these issues arise. By helping children to develop their own responses you are preparing them for the future as they become more independent.

Through nurturing and supporting children, you are creating an environment that encourages them to develop. It’s key the classroom setting is stimulating as children will be more excited to learn if they enjoy the environment they’re spending time in. This encourages them to unlock their full potential.

Another huge responsibility of a nursery practitioner is to protect the health and wellbeing of young children. While they are in your care, they are your primary responsibility so ensuring the environment is safe is key. Being responsive and staying alert is important for this to happen.

When it comes to being a great nursery practitioner it takes a great skill set.

Do you think you have what it takes?

nursery practitioner talking to a parent

Communication Skills

As you’re working with young children, you need to be able to adjust your communication style to engage and connect with them. You don’t want them to feel intimidated or uneasy as this will decrease their motivation to learn.

Compared to conversing with adults, children need a soft, friendly tone of voice which is going to make them feel engaged in activities and social interactions. This will make them feel more comfortable participating in activities and asking for help if they need it.

Furthermore, as a nursery practitioner, you need to be calm and understanding in your communication style as nursery classrooms can be stressful and being able to keep a soothing tone of voice in these situations, makes children feel at ease. It also demonstrates how you work well under pressure, which is a great skill for them to absorb and imitate in future situations.

You also need to be able to communicate activities to children that they might find complex. This requires the ability to easily explain things in a way they would understand by breaking down large chunks of information. The way you choose to do this is up to you, as long as it’s easy to understand for the child.

Methods might include talking to them further about the task at hand or by modelling it so they can follow and copy. Or, you might need to make sketches or drawings to help explain the task, providing a more visual means of communication.

The core element of this is being adaptable and versatile in your communication skills so that you connect with young children to ultimately facilitate their learning experience.

Aside from communicating with children, you also need to effectively communicate with parents. They are an essential part of their child’s development and require regular updates and observations to keep them informed. A great way of maintaining this thread of communication is through the Learning Journals platform, which allows both parents and teachers to easily upload, record, and share observations in minutes.

Why not try it for yourself on a months free trial?


As mentioned, nursery classrooms can be a stressful environment, often loud and bustling, with children involved in a range of activities.

And, things are bound to happen from time to time that are outside of your control. Whether it’s children splashing each other with paint, a child having a tantrum, or a child who refuses to share toys, you need to be patient and stay calm.

This shows the children you’re in control and can handle the situation at hand.

Furthermore, when it comes to completing activities, children can take a lot longer to understand and absorb information. They might get the task wrong multiple times or ask the same questions over and over again, but it’s important you allow them this time to figure out the correct way to do something.

By being patient, it allows children to take their time and experiment with different ways of doing things. This allows them to figure out what works best for them, as each child is different and will have their own preferences. Figuring out the problem for themselves will lead to enhanced confidence and a sense of achievement.

You will also need to have patience with parents and staff members as different people have different perspectives on the best way to support a child.

It’s important you take these points into consideration and maintain a positive relationship at all times so that each of you are working towards a common goal.

nursery practitioner holding a pencil and a paintbrush


Any nursery school classroom should be bursting with creativity. This is the hub for young children to explore, ignite their imagination, and overall, enjoy.

Have you ever seen a dull nursery with grey pictures on the wall and uniformed tables and chairs? Definitely not! There should be splashes of colour everywhere, beanbags, sandpits, play areas, handmade creations hanging on the wall and from the ceiling, to build a creative zone which inspires children to learn and excites their passion to explore.

As a nursery school practitioner, it’s your job to create these visionary spaces so children are motivated to learn and play.

From planning activities, to letting the children paint pictures to hang on the wall, you need to think of new ideas to engage the children so they want to come into the nursery environment. Children have a tendency to get bored and will thrive from having different activities to get stuck into. There needs to be opportunities which lets their creativity flow and makes them look at things differently.

Activities should not only be fun but also educational as nursery is about preparing children for school. Whilst it’s important children are enjoying what they’re doing to maintain their interest, there should be an educational benefit behind it which furthers their skillset.

For some messy play inspiration see our post about messy play ideas for babies. This includes activities which young children not only love to do but also learn from, which is a key part of their development.

Creating a space where children feel excited to come into is also an important part of making them feel more comfortable leaving their parents. Nursery can be a daunting experience for young children as they’re still very much attached to their parents. By being creative and making an inviting setting, they will enjoy coming into nursery and will want to get stuck into the different activities.


While the children are at nursery, you’re responsible for their health and wellbeing. It’s important you’re organised and thorough, making sure there are no objects lying around that are sharp or a wet floor where someone could easily slip.

It can be difficult in a nursery setting to stay on top of these things as there will be a lot going on at once, but it’s essential for the safety of young children that you keep checking.

In terms of activities, children benefit from a sense of order and structure. Whilst activities should still be enjoyable, make sure they are organised and that the children have all of the resources they need.

Young children are very observant and will pick up on the fact you’re stressed or flapping if you don’t have things prepared for them. They will often use you as a role model, so being calm shows them how to react to different situations.

Being organised will also help you feel happier at work as you’re in control of your workload. This will hopefully make your day run smoother as you’ve pre-planned what activities the children are working on that day instead of rushing about. This will allow you time to actually enjoy being a nursery teacher, interacting with the children, and seeing them engage in different activities.

Positive Attitude

As mentioned, children are very observant and pick up on negative energy and tension. At such an early age in their development, they imitate adults as they are their primary role model.

It’s important you kick-start the day with a positive attitude as this sets the overall tone for the classroom setting. Children want to enjoy being at nursery as this inspires them to learn.

Children are much more likely to engage in activities and behave better when they are happy. Better behaviour is a key part of creating a positive environment, both for you and other children. As their teacher, this positivity stems from you. By demonstrating you’re enthusiastic about the day ahead, this is a source of motivation for the children.

When they come into the classroom in the morning, they want to be greeted by a positive and friendly teacher who makes them feel welcome. Being able to smile sets this inviting tone and also enables you to enjoy your day more.

This makes each day at work a lot easier and makes you want to go back into the classroom the next day.

nursery practitioner sitting with child


Working with young children can be intense and requires your constant attention, commitment, and dedication. Therefore, it’s not for everyone.

Even when the working day is finished, there will be assessments to complete, and lessons to prepare for so you have to enjoy what you’re doing. Furthermore, as you’re working with young children, you need to build and maintain a positive relationship with parents. This requires great communication skills and a willingness to cooperate as there will be times when problems arise from teaching.

You will also need to genuinely enjoy the company of children and harness a deep passion for creating a great learning environment. This requires staying up to date with current trends and practices so you can improve and build on your teaching skills.

There will always be new and better ways of doing things, so it’s important you have an appetite for staying ahead. This ensures children receive the best possible nursery experience and can achieve their full potential.

Every child is individual and has their own strengths, weaknesses, and preferences when it comes to learning. Regardless of the way they learn, children should always be encouraged as this will build their confidence and set them up for the future.

As a nursery school practitioner, it’s important to be respectful and sensitive to these characteristics and make children feel at ease.

This will require tailoring lessons to suit different needs and also adapting your approach to each child. Some children might find certain activities more challenging than others so they will require additional support and time to work things out. The more comfortable children feel, the more likely they are to enjoy learning.

In regards to a social setting, some children will be a lot quieter than others and more disengaged, so it’s important to spot these signs and gently integrate them into the wider group.

When young children leave nursery and transition into primary school, being able to interact with other children is key. Therefore, facilitating these interactions at an early stage is fantastic preparation and a key skill for future life.

What Makes a Great Nursery Practitioner

The role of a nursery practitioner is crucial in a child’s early development as they learn from their environment and their interactions with others.

The experiences and skills children develop in nursery school will set the foundation for their future, so it’s key that they feel supported and inspired to learn from the start.

Therefore, nursery practitioners need to harness a certain skill set in order to support and nurture young children through these crucial early stages of life.

From building a creative classroom, to adapting their communication style, to staying calm in stressful situations, the role of a nursery practitioner is very varied. They also carry the huge responsibility of keeping a child safe and secure, remaining alert at all times to respond to any given situation.

Above all, nursery school practitioners need to have a genuine passion and commitment to working with young children to provide each and every child with the best learning experience possible. It’s not just a job, it’s about possessing a true desire to work with children, accompanying them on their journey as they grow.

The Role of Learning Journals

As teachers and parents, we understand that you don’t want to miss a moment of this precious journey. With the option to take unlimited observations and with an easy tracking feature, the Learning Journals platform allows you to monitor progress over time. Try our free demo to see for yourself!

And if you’re a nursery school owner, the Learning Journals platform offers so much more. With Learning Journals HR, you can manage and develop your staff easily and effectively. See a full view of your team so you know what events are coming up and when, or use the sharing system to update existing policies and procedures.

The platform also allows you to effectively manage sickness and absences to identify any issues early on. Interested in using the platform for your staff? Take a look at more key features.

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