Posted on 18/11/2015 by Eloise Kennett
In my career as a centre director and now as a specialist recruiter in the early childhood sector I have met an abundance of educators who are simply not cut out for work in the industry. When leaving school and looking for the first step in their career many turn to working in early childhood education because ‘they love kids’.
Loving children is absolutely a pre-requisite for a successful career in early childhood but there is so much more involved that those who have not yet worked in a child care centre simply do not know about.
The role ‘Early Childhood Educator’ comprises of many smaller roles including nurse, teacher, cook, cleaner, psychologist, singer/dancer, conflict mediator, crowd controller...the list goes on. There is also a significant amount of written work involved which is an expectation for every educator, no matter the qualification. When you are presenting documentation of each child’s learning and development to parents, you need to be able to spell the child’s name!
At some point in your career you will be covered in every kind of bodily fluid imaginable, come home most days with sand in parts of your body you didn’t know possible, be bitten, kicked & spat on and spend hundreds of dollars on new pants as the knees wear out from crawling around after babies. Working with children is HARD WORK and incredibly involved.
That being said working with children is one of the most rewarding things you can do. Knowing that the care and education you offer each child is shaping the person they become offers such a sense of accomplishment when you leave the centre each day. Cuddles from little arms and praise from families affirms the impact you have on those children.
10 years ago when enrolling to complete my Diploma of Children’s Services it was a prerequisite that each student completed volunteer time in a child care setting prior to the course. I strongly recommend this to anyone considering a career with children. What you imagine child care to be and what it actually is can be worlds apart! Visit your local centre and ask to spend a couple of full days in the centre. Seeing what the entire day comprises of really opens your eyes. You may fall in love as I did many years ago or decide the role may not be for you.
To have a long and successful career in early childhood you “must love kids”, that is a given but it is important to know the role involves so much more than playing with children. You are shaping each child’s future and that is an incredible responsibility. Still want to work in child care? Go for it, you will not regret it!