Nursery Assistant Job Description

Compassionate and patient, nursery assistants care for preschool-age children, attending to their daily needs and preparing them for kindergarten. They organize fun and educational activities, prepare snacks and meals, and monitor the children’s safety. They may also keep records of children under their care and report to their directors and supervisors about concerns as they arise.

Although they typically work in daycares, nursery assistants may also work in community groups, preschools, and other pre-kindergarten facilities. Their hours vary depending on the facility, but nursery assistants often work nine-to-five schedules with evenings, weekends, and federal holidays off.

 

Nursery Assistant Duties and Responsibilities 

On a typical work day, a nursery assistant can expect to complete the following tasks:

Supervise and Monitor Children 

Nursery assistants take a hands-on role in providing a safe child care environment. Whether the children are playing, eating, or napping, nursery assistants keep a close watch to prevent accidents or injuries. Although not required by all facilities, many nursery assistants have CPR or first aid training in case emergencies arise while on the job.

Organize Daily Activities

Beyond safety, nursery assistants also maintain a fun and educational environment for children under their care. They work closely with their directors and supervisors to develop engaging activities. If the nursery assistant also cares for children with disabilities, they adapt these programs as needed to help everyone feel included.

Keep and Update Records

To meet a child’s needs no matter who is on duty, nursery assistants keep detailed logs of each child in their facility. Information in these logs may include a child’s nursery attendance, temperament, food allergies, and any special accommodations the child requires.

Prepare Snacks and Meals

Alongside their supervisors, nursery assistants prepare healthy, nutritious meals and snacks for children. As new kids join their facility, they keep track of allergies or dietary concerns and provide meal alternatives when needed.

Resolve Conflicts Between Children

A nursery assistant carefully observes the children under their watch to spot arguments as they arise. They mediate conflicts between children, teaching them to compromise and treat each other with respect. In case of hurt feelings, nursery assistants also comfort hurt or upset children and de-escalate temper tantrums. 

Maintain a Sanitary Environment

After activities or mealtimes, nursery assistants are responsible for cleaning up messes and organizing materials for the next program. They usually sanitize toys, kitchen tools, and other items before the children arrive or after they leave. Nursery assistants are also responsible for monitoring each child’s personal hygiene by changing dirty or soiled clothing as needed.

 

Nursery Assistant Skills and Qualifications 

Nursery assistants have an inherent love of preschool-age children that shows when facilitating activities, comforting upset infants and toddlers, and taking care of kids’ daily needs. A nurturing, kind attitude is a must, as are the following abilities:

  • Experience working with young children – employers prefer nursery assistants who have worked in similar child care jobs. Candidates can gain experience by babysitting or working as a preschool assistant, daycare worker, or nanny
  • Basic understanding of child care practices – although nursery assistants don’t have to complete post secondary education, reading childhood development books or completing child care training can prepare them for their job
  • Compassionate demeanor – nursery assistants have caring, kind personalities that help them treat all children fairly and meet each child’s physical, emotional, and social needs
  • Patience – because nursery assistants work with babies and toddlers, they need a cool head for handling tantrums or caring for children with difficult personalities
  • Conflict resolution – comforting children in distress and helping them work through arguments with other kids is a critical skill for nursery assistants

 

Nursery Assistant Education and Training 

The education and training requirements for nursery assistants can vary depending on their location and employer. Although some states require nursery assistants to have a high school diploma, others have no minimum education requirements. In this case, a nursery assistant may receive on-the-job training from a supervisor. Nursery assistants must pass a background check and drug test before they begin working.

Nursery assistants who have completed some level of training or education, however, usually receive higher wages. A nursery assistant seeking better-paying positions typically pursues certification or an associate’s degree in early childhood education or child care development. Employers also prefer to hire nursery assistants with CPR or first aid certifications in case of emergencies.

 

Nursery Assistant Salary and Outlook 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for child care workers is $22,290 per year, or $10.72 per hour. The lowest 10 percent earn less than $8.41 per hour, while the highest 10 percent earn more than $15.76 per hour. The BLS predicts job growth of 7 percent through 2026, which would add around 84,000 jobs to the workforce.

Most child care workers work full time and may receive benefits and bonuses in addition to their wages. For part-time or self-employed child care workers, however, any bonuses may depend on their hours worked.

 

Helpful Resources

For current and prospective nursery assistants, a plethora of resources are available. Check out these links to keep up to date on current practices, industry news, and helpful training in the nursery field:

Child Care Education Institute – CCEI provides online training programs for child care workers in various subjects, including positive guidance, the importance of play, and safety in the classroom. All courses are offered in English and Spanish

Child Development for Child Care and Protection Workers – this text outlines current theories on childhood development, contemporary issues that may affect young people, and strategies to help child care workers reach children and adolescents from unique or challenging backgrounds

National Child Care Association – the NCCA is the official trade organization for child care workers and directors. It provides news, activities, and conferences for its members to set environment standards for child care facilities

Nursery World – this digital magazine provides industry news, developmental research, and activity suggestions for child care professionals

Positive Discipline for Childcare Providers – the authors of this text provide practical strategies for cultivating a safe, nurturing environment in child care facilities based on research in teaching and child development

 

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