I’d like to dedicate this posting to those who are interested in the early childhood field and want to know more about career options, as well as the projected future for child care workers.
Child care workers nurture and care for children before they attend formal schooling, before and after school, and any time that the parents are away for work or other reasons. Child caregivers are responsible for attending to the child’s basic needs and keeping them safe, but also to help stimulate their intellectual, emotional, social, and physical growth. “They help children explore individual interests, develop talents and independence, build self-esteem, and learn how to get along with others.”
There are 3 main types of child care workers: private household workers, who care for children at the children’s home; family child care providers, who care for children in the provider’s own home; and child care workers who work at child care centers.
*Private houshold workers that are paid by the hour are generally called babysitters. Babysitters are responsible for bathing, dressing, feeding the child, as well as supervising their play. They also read to and interact with the children during play time. Babysitters sometimes put the children to bed and wake them, depending on the child’s schedule.Nannies care for a single family and, in addition to the above responsibilities, may also perform housekeeper duties.
*Family child care providers often work alone in their home with a small group of children. If there are multiple adults, more children may be in care. This type of childcare is generally in a mixed-age home setting.
*Daycare centers are usually larger in size, with multiple classrooms divided by age, and more than one adult per group of children.
For the most part, early childhood caregivers spend most of their day with the children. That being said, they do need to maintain contact with parents/guardians through daily information sheets, newsletters, conferences, meetings, etc. to discuss the child’s needs or any concerns.
Some people would argue that a child care worker is simply a “glorified babysitter.” I disagree whole-heartedly.
Here’s a quote from http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos170.htm to prove my point:
“Young children learn mainly through play. Child care workers recognize this and capitalize on children’s play to further language development (storytelling and acting games), improve social skills (working together to build a neighborhood in a sandbox), and introduce scientific and mathematical concepts (balancing and counting blocks when building a bridge or mixing colors when painting). Often a less structured approach is used to teach young children, including small-group lessons; one-on-one instruction; and creative activities such as art, dance, and music. Child care workers play a vital role in preparing children to build the skills they will need in school.”
Child care workers (in any setting) welcome the child with a smile when he/she arrives. After they are signed in and the parent(s) leave, the caregiver assists the child to select an activity to engage in. To make sure the child experiences healthy, well balanced activities, the caregiver must create developmentally appropriate lessons plans/curriculum. There needs to be a balance between teacher initiated activities and child initiated activities, as well as, individual and group activities. Children thrive on routines and consistency and therefore, child care workers develop a daily schedule of activities to follow (including all developmental areas- teaching for the whole child).
The job outlook is exciting for this field! The following information is taken from http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos170.htm. This website is a GREAT resource for this and many occupations! Child care workers are expected to experience job growth that is faster than the average for all occupations. Job prospects will be excellent because of the many workers who leave and need to be replaced.
Employment of child care workers is projected to increase by 18 percent between 2006 and 2016. Child care workers will have a very large number of new jobs arise. The growth in demand for child care workers will be moderated, however, by an increasing emphasis on early childhood education programs, which hire mostly preschool workers instead of child care workers. Qualified persons who are interested in this work should have little trouble finding and keeping a job.
Preschool teacher employment is projected to increase by 26 percent between 2006 and 2016. Preschool teachers usually work their way up from assistant teacher, to teacher, to lead teacher—who may be responsible for the instruction of several classes—and, finally, to director of the center. Preschool teachers with a bachelor’s degree frequently are qualified to teach kindergarten through grade 3 as well. Teaching at these higher grades often results in higher pay.