Patience, communication, and a love of young children are just a few of the qualities you’ll need if you want to become an early childhood educator. Young children move a mile a minute, aren’t always the best listeners and are learning just about everything as if it’s brand new. You might be the first adult outside of their family with whom they interact. That’s a lot of responsibility! But you may already possess many traits that will make you a great childhood educator. And the rewards are pretty awesome. Besides smiles, hugs, and adoration from your little fans, you can touch the future with the wisdom you impart, the moral lessons you teach, and the great example you set.
If you like children and want to make a difference in their lives, early childhood education lets you start at the beginning of it all. Which of these important attributes do you have?
Full of curiosity and excitement, and eager to learn, touch, and do, little kids can be impulsive and reactive. That’s why it’s so important for the adults in their lives to be patient, understanding, and calm. You need to understand that the children in your care may not always grasp what’s appropriate. It’s up to you to teach them. Show them the way and give them your unhurried time and attention.
2. Passion for Teaching
Teachers of all kinds step into the role because they just can’t imagine doing anything else. They were born to teach. Do you feel the same way? If you’re not excited about the work and responsibility of teaching young learners, you may need to find another career path.
3. Love for Young Children
Little kids can’t tie their shoes or zip their jackets or reason the way children even just a few years older can. But they’re so darn cute! If you’re going to shape their future, you have to love the age group and all the very different personalities you’re likely to encounter.
4. Caring and Compassion
Children require nurturing, tenderness, and love. You need to be warm and genuine to gain their trust and attention. And you have to care about the whole person and understand the obstacles they might face, whether it’s a boo boo at play time, or a home life that’s less than perfect.
You may begin your day with a fully formulated plan and then get completely derailed by your students. And it could be a regular occurrence. These youngsters are still growing and developing and sometimes operate on their own schedules. It’s important to be a thoughtful and organized planner, but also be willing to pivot when the circumstances call for it.
Imagine being little and scared? It’s been a long time since you were a child, but you need to be able to empathize with those little kids and their big emotional feelings.
Teaching this age group requires a comfort with arts and crafts, storytelling, exercise, and educational games. It’s important to keep things fresh and try new activities to keep your students and their short attention spans engaged.
Young children thrive on structure and predictability. Being well-organized will help you multitask, respond to competing needs at the same time, and have a structure in place that keeps things running smoothly. To hone your organizational skills, use whatever calendars, apps, and tools you can—so it makes your life—and those of your students—easy.
9. Communication Skills
You may be a great communicator with people your age, but how are you when it comes to children? It takes strong listening skills and the ability to articulate what you mean in a way that they’ll understand. You will also need to shift communication gears when you speak to parents, coworkers, and members of the administration.
Your job will come with a lot of responsibility and reward. If you’re dedicated to helping young children adapt, learn, and grow during this young age, you will be effective and successful.
As an early childhood educator, you can work in a variety of settings, including preschools, Montessori schools, kindergartens, churches, childcare centers, and elementary schools. Are you ready to get started? Bluefield University offers both an associate and bachelor’s degree in early childhood education. Inquire now for more information.