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.