Early Childhood Education
Early Childhood Educators perform a combination of basic care and teaching duties. Early Childhood Educators introduce and direct art, music, language communication, play and other creative activities. They help each child—whether a newcomer, hyper-active, or shy—adjust to the preschool setting as naturally and comfortably as possible. They also help children adapt to group living. Teachers strive to be aware of each child’s mental, physical, and emotional needs and potential. They consult with parents, administrators, and child development specialists.
Beyond the basic care and teaching duties, helping to keep children healthy is another important part of the job. Early Childhood Educators serve nutritious meals and snacks and teach good eating habits and personal hygiene. They ensure that children have proper rest periods. They identify children who may not feel well and, in some cases, may help parents locate programs that will provide basic health services. Early Childhood Educators also watch for children who show signs of emotional or developmental problems and discuss these matters with their supervisor and the child’s parents. Early identification of children with special needs—such as those with behavioral, emotional, physical, or learning disabilities—is important to improve their future learning ability.
Helping children grow, learn, and gain new skills can be very rewarding. The work is sometimes routine but new activities and challenges mark each day. Child care can be physically and emotionally taxing, as workers constantly stand, walk, bend, stoop, and lift to attend to each child’s interests and problems.
Early Childhood Educators held about 1.4 million jobs in 2006, of which approximately 35 percent were self-employed. Employment of child care workers is projected to increase by 18 percent between 2006 and 2016, which is faster than the average for all occupations. Early Childhood Educators will have a very large number of new jobs arise, almost 248,000 over the projections decade. The proportion of children being cared for exclusively by parents or other relatives is likely to continue to decline, spurring demand for additional child care workers.
Child care workers may be able to advance to director of daycare assistant or teacher’s assistants in local elementary schools. Some, with additional schooling, enter other teaching occupations such as being a preschool teacher.
*Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2008 (2006-07) Edition