What You Need to Know about a Career in Child Care
A career in child care involves looking after babies and toddlers when their parents and other family members are unavailable. Child care workers are also responsible for the safety of children, as well as for facilitating their development.
If you are interested in a career in child care, there are certain things you need to know before you start planning your career path. Take a look at the following:
What are the duties of a child care professional?
A child care worker will typically do the following:
- Supervise and take care of the children in his or her care.
- Introduce children to a routine to ensure that there is a balance between sleep, playtime, and learning activities.
- Organise learning activities for children.
- Teach children how to maintain good hygiene.
- Prepare nutritious eating plans and meals for children.
- Change infants’ nappies, and potty-train toddlers.
- Keep record of the children’s emotional and developmental behaviour.
- Keep record of the children’s progress, routines, and interests.
What is the working environment like?
As a child care professional, your working environment can vary depending on where you choose to work. You can be employed at a child care centre, a pre-school, or private home environment. The working hours may vary considerably. For example: most crèches open at 6 AM and close at 6 PM on weekdays, while nannies and babysitters may be expected to work irregular hours, including evenings and weekends.
Each child is different, so it is important that you are adaptable and willing to adjust to the different needs of each child under your care.
Children (especially toddlers) need to have a balance of playtime, educational activities, and rest time. You will therefore need to participate in activities such as singing and reading to children, telling them stories, teaching them how to draw and paint, and supervising them while they sleep.
What skills do I need to be successful in this field?
Child care requires plenty of patience and a love of working with children. You will also have to have the following skills:
- Energy. Working with children can be exhausting, as it involves a fair amount of physical work. Children are busy and active, so it is necessary for workers in child care to have tons of energy and patience.
- Decision-making skills. It is important for child care workers to have good judgement when making decisions, especially when emergencies occur or they find themselves in tricky situations.
- Communication. You should be able to effectively communicate with a range of different people and personalities. From children to their parents, your good communication skills will also be required when working with other child care workers.
- Instructional skills. As a child care worker, you will need to explain and instruct children on a daily basis. Because of this, it is important to possess a set of skills that can help you explain things in a way children will be able to fully understand and follow.
- Interpersonal traits. Because child care workers communicate and work with people and children on a daily basis, it is very important that they possess skills that will help them in developing and building on relationships. They also need to be able to set the example when it comes to teaching social skills to children.
This can be a physically demanding job, but if you have a passion for working with children, and you want to help them by facilitating their early childhood development and preparing them for school, then you shouldn’t mind moving around all day, picking up toys, carrying children, and bending and kneeling to be at eye level with them.
How do I become a child care professional?
A child care worker has to fulfil certain education and training requirements. In South Africa, if you obtain a National Certificate in Educare, you can become a playschool teacher, a day care centre manager, or a teacher’s assistant at Grade R level. If you would like to become a primary or high school teacher, then you will have to do a National Diploma or a Degree in Education.
It will also be beneficial to your career if you have a First Aid course or CPR certificate behind your name — these are very important skills to have when dealing with children on a daily basis.
Start your career
Are you looking for a job in this field? Check out the latest child care jobs on Job Mail.
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