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An early childhood educator is one who is certified to work with and teach children from birth to age eight. The term is typically used for teachers, but it may also be used in reference to a daycare provider, teaching assistant, or school administrator. To become an early childhood educator, it is generally necessary to pursue a bachelor's degree in early childhood education, as well as to obtain a teaching certificate or license in a particular state. In addition, those who want to work with children are generally required to have a background check.
An early childhood educator may work at a school such as a preschool, kindergarten, or elementary school; at a daycare of childcare center; or as part of a head start program in a community. Class sizes are typically much smaller in early childhood education than in later school years, to allow the educator to spend as much time as possible with each student. On a daily basis, the educator is responsible for creating lesson plans and teaching students in the manners in which children learn best, such as through interactive play and hands-on activities.
In addition, an early childhood educator is responsible for disciplining children appropriately, keeping them safe, and regularly evaluating their progress. Early childhood teachers must generally prepare reports for parents and school administrators regarding students' progress and skills. A job in early childhood education requires more childcare than a job teaching older children who are more independent, so it is important for an educator to be patient, communicative, and to truly enjoy working with children and teaching creatively, and in an engaging manner.
An early childhood educator might do activities with children that include arts and crafts, story time, problem solving with games or puzzles, group activities to help kids build social skills, and activities that teach basic skills such as numbers or the alphabet. Music is an important part of early childhood education, and many educators begin to teach their students basic musical instruments and rhythm.
Of course, requirements for early childhood education vary depending on the ages of the children being taught, as well as each particular state's curriculum guidelines. Each educator must generally be willing to meet with parents regularly, to discuss what the children are being taught, and how well they are progressing. Most people in this position truly enjoy their jobs, because young children are very receptive to learning and enjoy coming to school every day.
@Comfyshoes - I agree and I wanted to add that some early childhood education jobs require only a CDA license or an Associate’s degree in early childhood. I have seen a few job opportunities that allow a teacher’s assistant to work with a CDA license, and some can teach in a daycare setting and some private schools with an Associate’s degree if they are teaching prekindergarten classes.
For public school, a teacher has to have a Bachelor’s degree. I had a friend that got her CDA license at a community college and worked in a daycare to see if she was going to like working with young children.
She told me that this was the best thing that she
did and recommends that anyone considering this field to go that route because some people find that they like the idea of teaching young children but when they actually are in that setting they are uncomfortable and it was not what they thought it would be. This is a rewarding field but it is not for everyone.
@GreenWeaver - I think that anyone that pursues an early childhood education career has to appreciate the uniqueness of children. A lot of educators focus on this age group because they can mold these children because most are so eager to learn.
I think that discipline is important because it provides a better learning environment for all of the children in the classroom. It also makes all of the children understand that the teacher means business.
If a teacher in this area establishes a good relationship with the parents they will be able to come up with an idea that could help her classroom run smoother. This is what happened to me when my daughter was in kindergarten.
She had a problem with talking and I bought a roll of tickets for the teacher and told her to give my daughter a ticket at the end of the day if she did not talk out of turn. It worked because my daughter was so eager to get these tickets that she complied with the teacher.
I also offered her a chance at the grab bag is she was able to bring me back a few per week. Because I had an excellent relationship with the teacher the teacher and I acted like partners and together came up with a great method of discipline that motivated my daughter.
Those that have a successful early childhood education career have lots of stories like this because you have to have a good relationship with the parents because they can give you insight as to what type of discipline or motivation techniques work with their child.
@Moldova -I agree. I had a friend that was pursuing a teaching career and had to do her internship in high school because she was considering a science education major and she decided that she preferred working with younger children so she changed her focus to an education in early childhood.
She says that she loves working with children this age because they are really sweet and enjoy coming to school. She also said that children this age are typically not disrespectful. Her favorite aspect of being an early childhood educator comes from teaching reading and acting out literature studies.
She says that the parents this age are also very supportive and comply with the homework that she
sends to the children. It is usually just reading a set of phonics readers or a few sheets of basic math or letter formation sheets.
She teaches kindergarten so while they do teach academic subjects the focus is creating order and learning basic reading skills, writing skills, and math concepts like telling time and learning the calendar.
I just want to say that I think that anyone that has an early childhood educator job really has to have a a lot of patience because children this age are learning how to function in a group setting and they need a lot of structure and consistent reinforcement in order for them to work in a compliant manner.
Kids this age can be unpredictable so you have to understand this or you will be very frustrated. An early childhood educator job can really be rewarding because you are among the first educators that will teach the child to read, write, and learn math concepts.
These educational milestones are critical in a child’s life and it is the reason that a lot of people consider seeking an early childhood education degree.
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