WNA Blog

Wed 14 Feb 2024

4 Things to Consider Before Becoming an Early Childhood Educator


In The News

Embarking on a career in early childhood education is a journey filled with rewards, challenges and endless opportunities to make a significant impact on young lives. As you consider this path, it’s essential to understand what it entails and how it aligns with your personal and professional aspirations. This article will delve into the myriad of career opportunities, the skills required to be great in each, and the pathways to get there. But firstly, what exactly is early childhood education?

Before You Begin: About Careers in Early Childhood Education

Early childhood education is unique compared to other areas of education. It focuses on the education of children whose ages range between about zero and five. This is an incredible period of development for children. The early childhood educator’s role is to foster this emotional, social and intellectual growth.

This field goes beyond the traditional teaching roles, encompassing a spectrum of responsibilities including nurturing, mentoring and creating enriching learning environments. There is no more important time in a person’s development than this period, as such, early childhood educators are invaluable to all children. 

Diversity of Careers

One of the most attractive aspects of this career is the variety of career opportunities in early childhood education. The three main roles in an early childhood education centre are early childhood teachers, early childhood educators and educational leaders. Whilst each of these roles has unique responsibilities, they all have a wonderful impact on childhood development.

Early Childhood Teachers

Early childhood teachers support children’s learning, wellbeing and development. They do this by planning activities, observing and recording the children’s development, and encouraging students to engage with the world around them.

Early Childhood Educators

Early childhood educators, formerly known as kindergarten or childcare assistants, are charged with the play-based development of children. Free play is an important aspect of early childhood development and by fostering these activities, early childhood educators allow the children to learn about themselves and others in natural and dynamic ways. 

Education Leaders

Education leaders are more tightly focused on the development of the intellectual foundation of children. Their role is to promote a positive relationship with education from an early age. 

Pathways

If you’re considering a career in early childhood education, there are several pathways available. They can broadly be categorised into two: the University or the TAFE path. The TAFE pathway leads to educator roles and can be upskilled to later become an early childhood teacher. The TAFE pathway begins with a certificate III in early childhood education and care. From here, you can go straight into an educator role, or bolster your application with a Diploma of early childhood education and care.

To become an early childhood teacher, you can either upskill from the diploma to a degree or begin with the degree path. These degrees usually come under the title of Bachelor of Early Childhood Education. 

Skills and Qualities of a Good Early Childhood Educator

While formal education is crucial, the skills and qualities that define a successful early childhood educator go beyond formal training and academic qualifications. Whilst patience, creativity and a genuine passion for child development are indispensable, it is worth highlighting a few qualities that stand out as most important.

Empathy

It is weird being a three-year-old, the whole world is new and exciting. There are colours you’ve never seen before, words that are longer than two syllables and games you have never played. As an early childhood educator, recognising this strange and exciting position that occupies each young child, is the best avenue for laying a worthwhile developmental foundation.

Communication

Being a role model for communication is a wonderful way to set up a child for their own journey. Being able to effectively communicate your instructions, questions and concerns, teaches children how to do these things themselves. Actively listening to their questions and concerns also shows them how to be a caring friend and peer. These skills teach them to interact and learn, both with their friends of the same age, but also with the other adults in their lives, allowing them to access friendships and role models on their own.

A career in early childhood education is a fulfilling and dynamic choice, filled with opportunities to influence young minds positively. There are many career options, from training pathways to job positions, each with their own benefits. What they all have in common, however, is they all provide a chance to have a wonderful impact on children during their most exciting phase of development.


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