Caring for children is not as easy as the way you think it is. It is not everyone’s cup of tea; that is why you must have the will and the heart for this kind of job before you start working with children.
To succeed in this work field, childcare workers must possess certain qualities and skills to work efficiently with children.
A lot of people really like the idea of a career that involves working with kids, but it takes a special kind of person to be really good at it. To be a successful childminder, educator, or pediatric nurse, for example, you really do need to have the right personality and the perfect skill set, which means more than just the relevant educational qualifications!
There are many employment opportunities to pursue a career that involves working with children. Below is a list of them.
5 Types of Childcare Workers
A. Teacher Training and Education
This sector in childcare careers offers a wide selection of opportunities for those who want to land a job in this field.
Here are some of the work opportunities under teacher training and education:
- Early years teacher.
- Primary school teacher.
- Secondary school teacher.
- Special educational needs teacher.
- Educational psychologist.
B. Healthcare Sector
If you are more inclined into nursing, child psychotherapy, social work, and other related childcare careers. Take note that these careers are all graduate jobs, meaning you need to have a degree to enter such professions.
It is also best to do your research about postgraduate programs and master’s degrees for childcare. There is a lot for you to explore. Again, do some research so you can freely choose what suits you the most.
C. Childcare Center Workers
They work in formal childcare facilities where they use Head Start and Early Head Start Programs. Usually, the childcare workers in these facilities work together with preschool teachers. They help the children learn with the guidance of their structured curriculums.
Usually, these childcare workers who belong in this field are responsible for their early education under their care. They have specific programs and curriculums, specially designed for each age group of children.
D. Family Childcare Providers
These childcare providers are businesses that provide care for children in their own homes. They have their staff, and their families are also qualified to do childcare.
Some that offer this service have their own set of rules on how many children they can take, how many hours, and their rates.
They market their services to families that do not have nannies and other relatives that cannot take care of their children when they are away. This family childcare providers ensure the kids’ welfare and safety to and from school or depending on the situation when their primary caregiver is not available.
This type of childcare worker is the one that works in the homes of the children they are caring for. Most of them work full time, and they usually live together with the family as well.
Most nannies work long hours in homes without work supervision. The children’s parents depend on the nannies to keep their children safe and well-cared while they are away for work and other matters.
11 Keys Skills You Must Have to Work with Children
So, why do people want to work with children? Working with children can be one of the most rewarding professions in the industry. One should not take lightly the choice to have a career in childcare. Honestly, it comes with a lot of responsibility, more than you could ever imagine. Remember, a child’s physical and emotional wellbeing is in your hands.
Are you kind and patient, and you want a stable job that is fulfilling, enjoyable, and flexible? Maybe a childcare career is fit for you.
If you want to pursue a career that involves working with children, here are the needed skills to work with kids that you must possess to be successful in this field.
If you’re serious about working with children, here are the most essential skills you will need to work on:
1. Being Patient
Patience is probably the most important skill any adult working with kids needs to have.
Children have unique personalities and behaviors. Every child worker must know this very well. It simply means that what works perfectly for one child may not work for the other child too.
You should note that children have different learning stages from each other, so you need to have patience when teaching them new things and to do new activities.
A child can be a fast learner while the other struggles with a certain activity. It is a challenging career, and you need to have a lot of patience to succeed in this field. That is why patience is considered the most important skill any adult working with children needs to have.
You will always have to explain yourself, repeat instructions over and over. And of course, you will also have to deal with distractions. These are just some of the scenarios you need to deal with every day when tolerance working with children.
Keep also in mind that children have their ways of doing things. And most of the time they do activities and other things not in your terms. Sometimes, situations like this can trigger you. Keep your cool during these times, and most importantly, do not snap at them easily.
You need to handle their tantrums and meltdowns calmly. Keep in mind that they are not adults, and they always need guidance and reassurance.
So, are you up for the job? Or are you one of those who quickly get stressed and frustrated when things do not go as you planned? Either way, if you want to pursue a career in childcare, then extend your patience to the highest level possible.
2. A Calm Demeanour
When you’re spending a lot of time surrounded by children, accidents are going to happen, and there will be more emergency situations to contend with that you might think possible, but it’s important, when that happens, that you’re able to remain calm.
Children naturally look to the adults around them in an emergency situation, and if you’re freaking it, running around like a headless chicken, that’s what they’ll do too!
Developing a sense of serenity, especially in difficult situations isn’t easy, but if you put yourself through first aid training and the like, it will be a lot easier.
3. Communication Skills
The other skill needed to work with children is to have excellent communication skills. This skill is essential for you to have when trying to earn a child’s trust and respect. It goes hand in hand with listening skills.
If you want to be a teacher in particular, and here’s how you can get your FLDOE Certification if you’re interested, being able to communicate with children of different ages is a must. Teachers who talk down to children do them a real disservice.
When you are communicating with a child, you need to be confident and authoritative at the same time. You can give them clear instructions and, at the same time, a sympathetic ear to them. Establish a good rapport with them, talk to them in a manner that they can quickly grasp the idea.
The tone of voice also plays an important role when communicating with children. Being able to communicate with children in different age groups is also a must. You should also listen again to them and give them full attention while they are talking to you.
Choose your words carefully when talking to children. Using persuasive language can promote the right attitude in children, like resilience and optimism.
Effective use of words creates an environment for children full of love, acceptance, and hope as they thrive to reach their full potential.
The difference between dumbing your words down and making it accessible to younger children is a small one, but it is important you learn how to do it if you want to inspire children to learn more, rather than putting them off completely. Here’s how you can talk to younger kids without dumbing down if this is something you’re interested in learning.
It really will make you a better educator if you take the time to work on your communication skills.
4. Enthusiasm for Your Work
Do you enjoy spending time with kids? Are you excited to play with your nieces and nephews over the weekend? Can you keep up with their energy and the inevitable tantrums?
If you answered yes to all the questions above, then you probably love to be around children. Having a career in childcare is not a joke.
By showing enthusiasm towards work and children, these passionate childcare workers create a conducive environment for them to learn and grow. Enthusiasm is infectious. If you love children and, of course, your job as a childcare worker, you will be able to engage with them easily.
As a childcare worker, when you express a genuine interest in the activities, the children will notice your enthusiasm towards them. It makes them feel excited and establishes a great connection with you.
Remember, kids can sense when you are angry and stressed; they also mirror your feelings. That is why you need to be enthusiastic and passionate when working with them.
5. Great Physical Stamina
Undeniably, children do have a lot of energy. It will surely leave you breathless after a couple of hours with them. That is why you need to have great physical stamina if you want to keep up with them all day.
Running, rolling around on the floor, and jumping up and down are just some of the strenuous activities you will experience while working with children. You might forget that you also need to stand for an extended period.
Aside from the occasional tantrums, are you really up for this kind of job? Ask yourself this question, do you want to work with kids and pursue this kind of career?
Not all can survive this in the long run, which is why you need to think this through before making a career move.
6. Ability to Adapt Easily to Children
Children learn and explore at a different rate from each other. They have different needs that you need to attend to. As a childcare worker, you have to adapt to each child to make them feel loved, respected, and be given importance.
Being able to adapt to their differences is a must skill to have for a childcare worker. One must be able to put aside the differences of each child.
An effective childcare worker can quickly adapt to their work environment. They are flexible in all possible ways. They can handle change without a problem. And they do not easily back down when they face uncertainties and difficulties.
They are open and willing to learn new things, and most importantly, they shift their priorities in response to the demand of the situation.
7. Social Perceptiveness
Working with children means dealing with different cultural practices and beliefs that may contradict your own. You cannot choose where these children come from. That is why having a sense of social perceptiveness is a skill you must possess if you want to have a childcare career.
Being aware of others reactions and understanding why they react as they do. When a childcare worker has this social perceptiveness skill, understanding quickly and acceptance come easy towards a child.
Social perceptiveness is essential when working with children. One should pay close attention to the different thoughts and feelings of children.
A childcare worker must be sensitive to the social and emotional needs of the children. With no judgments and biases, and to give them compassion.
8. Judgment and Decision-making
When taking care of children, there are certain situations that we cannot avoid that may risk the children’s welfare; therefore, sound judgment is needed. One must be quick to assess the situation and know what to do in times like this.
There can be many complex problems that can arise when we are working with children. That is why the childcare worker’s decision-making skills are essential, especially in cases like this. A good decision-maker can handle the situation very well, without panic and with grace.
9. Stress Tolerance
You really cannot avoid stress when you are working with children. They can certainly increase your cortisol level in just minutes, which is why you need to have a good tolerance for stress.
Kids are fun to be with, but you never know what they can offer you the next hour or so. And if you are one of those that easily get stressed and agitated, then it is high time that you need to learn to handle stress calmly.
Accept that there are things you cannot control, and you just need to let it go. Or, if not, then a career in childcare may not be your forte.
As a childcare worker, you need to have the initiative to take responsibility and the challenges that come along in this job.
You are a role model in the eyes of these children. They look up to you; that is why you need to have the initiative and lead them in your activities and other things. Listen to them and encourage them.
11. Great Sense of Self-control
Kids are kids. They can turn your anger button instantly, making you lose your temper and do unnecessary things to them. That is what we want to avoid in the first place.
That is why a childcare worker needs to have a great sense of self-control. Maintain your composure, keep your anger in control, and lastly, avoid aggressive behavior, even in very tempting and difficult situations.
Requirements to Become a Childcare Worker
i) Educational Requirements
A childcare worker’s educational background is not the main requirement in this field. Generally, they do not need to have a bachelor’s degree for this career choice unless they want to work in the healthcare area.
Most employers and childcare facilities go for those individuals who previously have experience working with children. Having a great personality and attitude towards children is also the key to land a job in childcare facilities.
Having a high school diploma or any equivalent is already enough for entry-level positions. But some may require a higher educational background to qualify for a higher position.
ii) Licenses, Certifications & Registrations
Since you are dealing with children, most of the states require licensure and certification. They provide a set of requirements for you to work on to get a license.
Here are some of the credentials that they look for:
- Children Development Associate (CDA) credential.
- Certification in Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR).
- Certificate III in Education Support. (Australia)
- Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care. (Australia)
And if you want to be a teacher, then you need to have an FLDOE Certification. This certification will help you have a higher chance of employment in the education system. Having this will give you an edge over the other applicants.
As a childcare worker, you also need to attend training that will help you in your career. There is basic training in childcare that teaches you general childcare practices. It is best to keep yourself updated with the recent developments and practices in the childcare sector.
These are just some of the training opportunities for childcare workers:
- First Aid.
- Health and Safety.
- Special Education Needs (SEN).
- Training in Child Protection.
- Parenting Services and Childcare.
If you have not undergone training, do so because this will be useful in your childcare career.
Is Childcare the Right Job For You?
Are you still having second thoughts about pursuing a career in childcare?
The following questions might help you decide.
1. Do You Love Kids?
The first requirement in this career is for you to have a great love for children. But wait, love isn’t enough for you to get through the tears, screaming, and tantrums that you have to deal with every day.
Remember being in this career is not always rainbows and butterflies. Yes, working with children can indeed be very rewarding and a great experience too.
Just make sure that you are committed to pursuing this career in childcare. And if you are only half-hearted, you might not yet ready for all the responsibilities that come with a childcare career.
2. Can You Communicate With Little Kids and the Older Ones?
Having excellent communication skills is one of your keys to be successful in this field. It is not always about you communicating with the children, but you also need to talk to their parents and guardians.
Sometimes the older ones are the most difficult to deal with. They are quite demanding and overprotective when it comes to their children. That is when your communication skills are put to the test.
You need to make them understand the details of their child’s development, growth, and the areas that need improvement in their performance.
You need to make them understand the details of their child’s development, growth, and the areas that need improvement in their performance. Be professional at all times.
3. Can You Be Flexible and Patient?
You need to have endless patience if you want to work with children. Your patience will be tested over and over again by these kids. And you need to make sure that you do not snap out of it because that is another issue you have to deal with.
You also need to be flexible enough to handle the different personalities and attitudes of the children you are working with. For sure, there will be hard days, but you will get through it if you know how to handle them calmly and one thing you must not forget is to extend your patience just a little bit.
4. Are You the Dependable Type?
A childcare worker is dependable and reliable at the same time. Always remember that you are solely responsible for the safety of these children. Their parents have trusted you with their most prized possession, and that is their kid.
You are now responsible for nurturing these children, guiding them, giving them love and affection, and watching them grow to be good citizens.
You will significantly impact their growing years, which is why it is important that you can be relied upon.
5. Does Salary Matter to You Most?
Wages for childcare workers varies given the worker’s educational attainment and work setting. Those who are employed in formal childcare facilities and the likes have higher rates. And while those who work based on the number of hours earned just enough.
If you are the one who is looking for a higher salary rate, a career in childcare may not be the one for you. There are far more high paying jobs available in the industry. But if the salary does not bother you at all, and you just love to work with children, you will surely be an excellent fit for the job.
Finally, being a childcare worker is really about passion and the love you have for children and the job. Remember that working with children requires many skills and strengths. And the skills mentioned above, are the essential ones that are there to help you navigate, survive the career, and be an efficient childcare worker.
Your impact on the children’s’ individual lives is a great accomplishment for you as their teacher and caregiver. It is really up to you if you want to pursue a career in childcare.
Are you ready to accept the challenges and the rewards that you can gain while working with children? Then go ahead, be prepared to dive in for this funfilled, messy, and yet the most rewarding career ever.