Early Childhood Educator

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Early Childhood Educator


It takes a special kind of person to spend upwards of eight hours a day with children of pre-school age. Early childhood educators are trained to work with children between the ages of 12 months and about five or six years. They work with them in out-of-school programs, preschools, daycares, recreation centers and kindergarten classrooms, as well as one-on-one. They develop programs designed to meet the children's social, physical, intellectual, creative, cultural and emotional needs. They also build the children's self-esteem by establishing routines and positive guidance policies which allow children to feel secure, comfortable and safe. They must also communicate with the children's families, especially regarding the needs and development of the children in their care.

Early childhood education programs are often built around learning-through-play theories-- young children absorb information best when they are actively involved in the lesson. Songs, games, art and other imagination-boosting activities help the children develop their senses, motor skills, and self-awareness, as well as work on improving social development and instilling values and cultural awareness in the children. Early childhood educators plan and implement play-based group activities, storytimes, singalongs, outings and field trips. Each educator must vary the activities, as they must be designed to accommodate individual children's unique abilities.

Early childhood education is much, much different from learning in elementary school and secondary school. These children are often not aware what "learning" is--there is no memorization, no special projects with rules and guidelines, and no tests, grading, or judging. In early childhood education, young children are encouraged to be themselves, and are free to develop skills and learn new things at their own pace.

As well as being responsible for the education of their charges, educators in these environments are responsible for providing a safe, secure, relaxing and fun place for children to be without their parents for hours at a time. It is important, therefore, for the educator to be friendly, honest and patient, in order to convince those children who are hesitant about leaving their parents for the first time. It is up to the educator to not only facilitate the learning of the students, but to convince them that the program is fun, painless, and important to everyone. By attending these programs and schools, children will grow up to be well-adjusted, independent thinkers who can contribute a lot to society. For each sensitive, compassionate and respectful grownup out there, we can give a little thanks to early childhood educators.
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Grand Canyon University
Prepare for a career of learning, leading and serving with an online degree from GCU's College of Education!
Programs Offered:
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  • B.S. in Early Childhood Education and Early Childhood Special Education
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  Interests and Skills  
Successful early childhood educators are organized, passionate people, who are both flexible and firm, driven and relaxed. They should have a genuine interest in children, as well as a true respect for them. They should be creative, imaginative and resourceful, with strong leadership qualities. A good sense of humor, loyalty and a good set of morals will also come in handy. They should be decisive, and have problem-solving skills, especially under pressure. They are effective time managers, with fantastic communication skills, both written and verbal, as well as listening skills. They are open to other cultures and beliefs, and must be good motivators. They are also fit, with enough stamina to keep up with active preschoolers.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Plan activities, keeping notes on programs and educational aims
  • Supervise arrival and departure times
  • Read stories and run singalongs
  • Develop skills through music, movement, drama and art activities
  • Supervise play times, both guided and free
  • May supervise and serve snacks and meals
  • Encourage children to rest during quiet time
  • Arrange for outdoor play, special guests and field trips
  • Practice first aid when necessary
  • Early childhood educators spend most of each day working with groups of children, or spend some time working with them individually. They also work with other educators to develop plans and programs for future educational opportunities. They also often keep records of activities, taking note of the program's positive, as well as negative, results. They also spend time cleaning up after the children, as well as cleaning up the children themselves. They meet with the parents to discuss development issues. Early childhood educators work outdoors when outdoor play is scheduled, and go on trips with the children, but only small forays into the community.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Early childhood educators can be found at work in daycare centers, nursery schools, recreation centers, assisting in kindergartens, hospital playrooms, out-of-school care programs, centers for special needs children, family support centers, women's shelters, preschools and museums. Their environment is usually loud, colorful, and decorated and designed for the needs of the students or program participants. They work varied hours, depending on where they are employed. Some work regular eight-hour days, while others work longer hours, or weekends and evenings. They usually work with six to 30 children at a time, and generally have coworkers or assistants to work alongside everyday.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Early childhood educators can open their own day care, find work in pre-schools, public schools, or work as a nanny or in museums or at recreation centers. They can return to school and train to become counselors, play therapists or child advocacy lawyers. Social work, professorships, and researchers are all venues open to people interested in the development and learning capabilities of young children.

  Educational Paths  
Anyone who wants to enter this field is encouraged to become a licensed early childhood educator. Although you can find work with a background in childcare and a desire to work with kids in an educational setting, supervisory jobs as well as managers of daycares are required to be fully trained and licensed.

Educational options include taking early childhood education or youth and child care at a college. These diploma programs can take from one to three years to complete. Other early childhood educators pursue a university degree in child studies. This route focuses more on the psychology of child care and learning patterns.

Before starting school it is a good idea to volunteer with a Girl Guide or Boy Scout unit, sports organization, or at a recreation center. It is also a good idea for those wanting to go into this profession to visit a preschool and see if this is the life for them.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

Featured Schools

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Grand Canyon University
Inspire minds and change lives with an Education Degree online from Grand Canyon University.
Programs Offered:
  • B.S. in Early Childhood
  • M.Ed. in Early Childhood (Leads to initial teacher licensure)
  • B.S. in Early Childhood Education and Early Childhood Special Education
  • And more...

Walden University
Earn a respected bachelor's degree, master's degree, or Ph.D. online at Walden University.
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Liberty University

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Saint Leo University
Saint Leo University was among the first colleges or universities to teach on military bases and has been educating servicemen and women since 1973.
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