Approximately 170,000 early childhood education jobs are projected to open annually, at least through the end of this decade. Are you preparing for a career in this thriving field? If so, get ready!
The childcare industry is exciting, rewarding, and sometimes nerve-wracking. You will work with the youngest members of society and their parents.
You’re likely aware that little people have big feelings. They also have parents who experience a range of emotions over sending their kids to daycare.
To thrive in your new career, it will help if you follow advice from seasoned childcare workers. In this article, you’ll find seven tips that will make your job easier and even more gratifying.
- Be Open-Minded
From day one in your new job, there will be things to learn. People who have successful childcare careers learn early on to keep an open mind.
Being open-minded means asking lots of questions. Open-minded people also welcome new ideas.
All that new information can make you feel overwhelmed. If you can stay open-minded, you’ll be a better team member.
Approaching your job with this attitude can also help you think more critically and rationally. Critical thinking skills are vital if you hope to grow in your new career.
- Dress for the Job
Working with children involves a lot of physical activity. One minute you may be bending down to talk with a child at eye level. Next, you could be outside helping children learn how to jump rope.
Comfortable clothes make the job easier and more fun.
In many childcare centers, employees wear company tees and jeans or khakis. Other centers require teachers to wear business casual attire.
Whatever dress code you need to follow, fabrics that stretch or are loose enough to get you through a day of physical activity work best.
Working in childcare is often messy!
Daycare teachers have run-ins with fingerprints, mud, and, sometimes, foods that can stain. Keep a stain-removal stick or travel-size bottle of laundry soap in your tote bag.
- Be Ready for Anything
Expect the unexpected.
Count on children who misbehave, have bathroom accidents, or get sick and vomit all over everything. Sometimes, children hit, pinch, push, or bite others.
While you may feel rattled, you can’t let that direct your responses to challenging situations. When you’re prepared for anything, it will be easier to remain cool as a cucumber.
Most daycare centers require valid CPR and first-aid certifications for all staff. Don’t discount the importance of these life-saving skills. They will help you handle unexpected health situations.
- Develop Communication Skills
While you may communicate well with your peers, how comfortable are you with children?
Working with children takes strong listening skills. You’ll also need to articulate your meaning so that the children you work with can understand you.
Childcare workers must shift communication gears several times a day.
Children respond best when you use words they understand. Kids also tune in to body language and tone.
A warm, affectionate tone can help reassure a child, especially one who is shy and withdrawn. A relaxed posture and facial expression let kids know you’re confident. Your confidence can inspire even the timidest child.
You’ll need to shift to adult mode when talking with parents or coworkers.
- Learn to Stay Organized
Developing good organizational skills is one of the best things you can do to be successful in any job. It’s particularly critical when you work in early childhood education.
Structure and predictability help children and childcare workers thrive. Here are a few ideas you can try to help with organization:
- Keep a running to-do list
- Create a schedule
- Prioritize tasks
- Handle emails and phone messages daily
Whether you plan to work in a childcare facility or you’re considering opening a daycare, being organized will help keep your classroom or center running smoothly.
- Stay Healthy
Childcare centers are usually breeding grounds for sickness. Children share their germs with each other and their teachers. Common illnesses you may encounter at work include the following:
- Ear infections
You may also have children who arrive at daycare with lice or skin infections.
While you can’t always avoid exposure, you can implement good health practices to help you develop a healthy immune system.
Eat a healthy diet, stay hydrated, and get ample rest. Of course, you’ll also do better if you use proper handwashing techniques.
Early childhood education curriculums typically include learning about health and safety. While most parents work on handwashing and covering sneezes, some do not.
Modeling good behaviors can help you, and your students avoid colds and stomach viruses.
- Foster a Positive Work Environment
Have you ever worked with someone who never seemed happy or satisfied with their job? It’s challenging to stay positive when others around you fuss and complain most of the day.
You can change your work environment!
Be the person who uplifts the team. Negativity drags everyone down and can affect the children in your care.
You don’t need over-the-top cheerfulness, and you don’t need to have a Polly Anna outlook. Here are a few things you can do to create a positive work environment:
- Celebrate even the small wins
- Be a good listener
- Use positive language
- Treat coworkers with empathy and kindness
If you can focus on positivity, you’ll enjoy your job more. The children you work with will feel it, and so will your coworkers.
Ready for an Early Childhood Education Job?
We’ve shared a few things you can put in place to help you from day one on your new job. These tips don’t only work for people in early childhood education. You can use them in just about any position.
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