Being the Best You Can Be
Utilising Your Personal Strengths When Working in Child Care
As an Early Childhood Teacher, you have the capacity to influence lots of young lives. Children are sponges and they take note of the behaviours of the adults that they spend time with. Being your best will not only positively influence the kids in your care, it will make you feel happier, less stressed out, and more fulfilled.
Some of the pet hates of early childhood teachers are paperwork, high demands on the job, and difficult children. Paperwork is actually one of the top dislikes! Most child care facilitators go into the field because of their love of children. This is probably why you entered childcare right? Bookwork can be time consuming, boring and basically not in the realm of why we trained and went into the child care industry in the first place.
For a harmonious work environment, it is important that everyone contributes their fair share to the workload. Some staff have greater strengths in some areas than others of course, but it is important for morale that everyone has a turn at the not so popular aspects of the job such as cleaning down the kitchen, taking out the trash and admin where appropriate. The overall workload needs to be shared to create happy staff and high morale. That being said, some staff members love certain tasks which others hate, so taking advantage of peoples likes and dislikes, and strengths and weaknesses in this way can be good for morale too!
Some of the strengths that make a great early childhood teacher will be innate in you. Some will need to be developed. Important strengths to cultivate in a child care role are:
Getting Along With Others
Early childhood teachers need to be able to demonstrate confidence when interacting with both adults and kids. They most importantly need to be able to interact with children at their level while creating a safe and happy setting.
Think on Your Feet
Children move fast and you need to be able to think quickly! You have to make important and quick decisions on a daily basis. You need to be flexible – you are often faced with situations where children have different needs every day.
A kind, caring, nature is really a must when you work with little people. Children copy the behaviour they see in others too. The kids are sensitive to your words and watch the way you act closely. Make sure that you are developing their self esteem and creating good habits.
Health and Safety
You are being entrusted with people’s children and so you need to ensure that you constantly watch the kids and adhere to workplace health and safety regulations. If you notice any health or emotional problems with the children, it is important to bring these to the attention of the parents. You may be the first to notice them.
It is a good idea to keep your first aid certificate up to date. This is mandatory in the majority of child care facilities and kindy’s. Having staff that are trained in first aid gives peace of mind to the parents and managers in child care facilities. It will give you confidence to that you are able to assist in the case of an emergency.
Looking After Yourself
It is true that there are often many bugs, colds, and flus that go around in child care centres, and it can become easy to pick one up and become run down. It is important to take care of yourself 1. For your energy levels and own wellbeing and 2. For your physical fitness – child care facilitators need physical stamina. You need to keep up with the kids!
Communication is important, both with the children, the parents and your co-workers. You need to be able to communicate clearly in a positive manner and explain things like rules and directions. You may need good written communication too to write progress reports and the like.
Listening is really important. Children, parents and co-workers all need to be listened to. They need to feel that their needs are being met, that they are cared about, and that they are important in the scheme of things. Engaging with parents, and developing and enhancing skills to offer the children the best possible learning opportunities and social outlets will make life much more fun for the children, and will make you a valued worker.
If you are having issues with a situation at work try talking it over with the person involved, or your child care director if need be.
There are going to be times when you need to have those hard conversations with co-workers, children, and parents. This can be stressful but it is not possible to avoid conflict all the time. In times of conflict listen well, repeat your situation and communication the strengths of the scenario first. Describe behaviours – do not label, diagnose, or guess.
You Don’t Need A University Degree To Be the Best You Can Be
University degrees can look great on your resume and be sought out by employers. The ability to nurture, look after kids and get along with people though, are some things that just cannot be learned in a classroom. Do you really need a degree to play games with kids, get outside with them and have fun conversation? Don’t overlook these aspects of yourself and use every opportunity to strengthen them. The ability to play and have fun is really important in childcare. It is great for adults as well as children!
The KindyHub Platform can help you to communicate with both staff members and parents. By taking video and documenting what happens in your child care centre on a day to day basis, it takes some of the hard work out of facilitating a child care centre or kindergarten. It gives parents peace of mind knowing that they can see what their children do while in your care, and it is a great training tool for centre directors.
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