Child care workers perform a wide range of responsibilities and tasks to support and care for the children and students they work with. If you're interested in becoming a child care worker, you can expect to rely on a variety of skills to be successful in the job. Additionally, the skills you apply to your job on a daily basis can also differ depending on your work environment. In this article, we'll explore what a child care worker does, what kinds of environments they work in and the types of skills you'll need to be successful as a child care worker.
What does a child care worker do?
Child care workers are responsible for the care and education of young children and infants. Additionally, child care workers may also work with school-age children in before- and after-school care programs. These professionals typically hold a degree or certification in childhood education, and they rely on a range of skills to perform their jobs. Depending on the work environment, child care workers may be responsible for tasks like:
- Planning and delivering age-appropriate lessons or educational activities
- Engaging young children in play, instruction and early learning activities
- Collaborating with other child care workers and community members to develop programs that benefit children and students
- Organizing and maintaining a classroom environment
Child care workers may also work in a variety of different settings, including schools, churches, community centers, daycare facilities and even as private in-home nannies and caregivers. No matter where you decide to work when you become a child care worker, it's important to develop a strong mix of both hard and soft skills along with skill sets unique to the position, like curriculum guidelines and child care policies.
Types of skills for child care workers
As a child care worker, you can expect to apply several skill sets to be successful in the role. Here are several important skills that child care workers commonly have:
A combination of strong written, verbal and nonverbal communication skills is essential in your career as a child care worker. For instance, planning and recording lessons, activities and other documents relies heavily on your ability to communicate effectively in writing. Verbal communication is necessary for interacting with children, staff members and parents, and your body language and other forms of nonverbal communication can be highly beneficial for being able to relate to and build relationships with others at work.
Planning and instruction
Depending on their work environment, child care workers may also take on the responsibility of planning out and delivering lessons to the children they work with. For instance, a private in-home nanny for preschool-aged children may plan out educational activities and instruct them in different subjects like reading and writing. Therefore it's important to develop these skills as an early childhood educator, especially if you plan to work in a preschool setting or other academic role.
Child care workers can be extremely creative individuals, especially when engaging with children. Planning fun activities, organizing events for children and keeping the children they work with motivated and engaged is a major aspect of the job, so finding ways to develop your creative thinking and apply it to the role can help you succeed.
Your ability to make sound choices and analyze different aspects of decisions is another important skill to build as a child care worker. There are many choices these professionals make on a daily basis, including what curriculum to teach, how to plan for learning differences, what to choose for different activities and many more types of decisions that drive the way they approach their responsibilities. Additionally, the ability to make good choices and quick decisions in moments of emergency (such as when a child hurts themselves) is something child care workers need to be capable of.
Overcoming challenges can be a big part of taking a job as a child care worker, so strong problem-solving skills are necessary to be effective in this role. For instance, challenges in the learning environment like lack of supplies, children coming in sick or upset or having to change instructional approaches are all examples of some of the issues that child care workers may solve in their jobs.
Analyzing decisions, weighing curriculum choices and monitoring children's learning progress are all examples of how child care workers may apply their analytical skills in the workplace. Your ability to consider details and evaluate information is crucial to your success and your students' achievements.
For instance, if you work with preschoolers, you may be required to instruct small groups or classes according to specific curriculum standards. This may require documenting data to track student progress. This means you'll need to apply analytical skills to read student data and process it in a way that parents and your students can understand and relate to.
Compassion and empathy
Working with children and students of any age requires empathy, patience and compassion. Many child care workers serve as sole caretakers throughout the day, mentors, guidance counselors and teachers all in one. The ability to relate to and interact with the children and families that you work with will depend on your ability to find understanding in others' ideas, thoughts and feelings. Additionally, when children get hurt or have a bad day, you'll need to rely on your patience and compassion to provide the best support and care you can to your students.
Child care workers need to maintain a high level of organization, especially in environments where they serve as the sole caretaker or instructor. For instance, a child care worker in a preschool will often be responsible for recording and maintaining student files, supply inventories and other documents and records in the classroom. This requires attention to detail and a strong set of organizational skills, and developing your ability to get and stay organized will help you manage the administrative tasks of your job.
Child care workers direct and lead children in many different activities throughout the day, and they may also hold meetings with parents and other staff members. Being able to delegate, direct and manage the day-to-day responsibilities child care workers take on depends on strong leadership qualities.
Related: What Does Leadership Mean?
Classroom management skills encompass leadership skills in combination with a strong ability to organize and maintain rules and discipline among groups of children.
Depending on where you work in child care, you may be responsible for managing larger groups of children than if you worked privately with single families. Therefore, it's important to develop strong classroom management skills like keeping records of children's work, ensuring you have the resources you need in the classroom and monitoring your group's behavior and establishing a class community.
Working with kids takes physical stamina, no matter the environment. As a child care worker, if you work with larger groups of children, you can expect to be on your feet most of the time. From monitoring a classroom to taking small children in your care to a playground, working in child care can be physically demanding.
Jobs similar to child care workers
If you're interested in working in the child care industry, there are many great roles you can pursue. Here's a list of 10 jobs similar to child care workers:
3. Au Pair
10. Daycare director