Love. Passion. Energy. Patience. Endurance. Character. These are the traits required to be an excellent early childhood educator. The Early Childhood Educator is vital to our society’s health. Research from top universities such as John Hopkins and The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) continue to confirm and uncover more and more that what happens in early childhood sets the stage, good or bad, for the rest of life.
Early childhood education, which involves children from birth to age six, are learning in vast quantities about everything we cannot yet comprehend it. Since there is so much riding on this developmental stage, early childhood educators need to be dedicated to the good of children, have a grasp of child development, and be extremely positive and energetic.
Early childhood educators, whether in a daycare, home, school, or program setting provide social activities, educational concepts and creative skills for children. In some cases, the most important role models and adult examples are teachers. With that in mind, an upstanding character, let alone the skills to teach, should remain at the forefront of any job description.
Planning and managing a group of little people isn’t easy, and early childhood educators need to be able to, or the little people will walk all over them with chaos reigning down all around. The ability to plan is vital, but planning activities that are stimulating, productive, and not merely time-wasters – activities that involve creativity and include a variety of learning styles – is ideal.
Besides educational activities, young children need someone who can problem-solve social situations and personal issues as well. The cliche that teachers are asked to be everything to the child: Parent, mother, father, doctor, teacher, and counselor, has quite a bit of truth.
This emotional, personal, and social development requires the wisdom to know how to help a child within legal and relational boundaries; hence the fact that education programs include coursework and training in recognizing problems that need addressing outside of school.
The programs we ranked in our Top 35 Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education all include coursework, fieldwork, and training for the demands of the early educator. For example, University of Georgia ranked #3 on our list, includes training in educational theory, literacy, hands-on learning opportunities with several local school districts, and field experiences designed to understand the social and political contexts of the classroom.
- Lead classroom activities and teaching of the curriculum, including maintaining order.
- Plan and implement a curriculum of activities and lessons.
- Maintain classroom and play space for safety and cleanliness.
- Conduct student assessments and provide feedback on behavior and performance to parents.
- Work with children in groups or one on one, depending on the needs of children and the subject matter
- Plan and carry out a curriculum that targets different areas of child development, such as language, motor, and social skills
- Develop schedules and routines to ensure children have enough physical activity, rest, and playtime
- Watch for signs of emotional or developmental problems in children and bring them to the attention of the parents
- Keep records of the students’ progress, routines, and interests, and inform parents about their child’s development