When parents trust you with their precious children, it’s important for you to have high professional standards and good ethics.
You are a huge component of the lives of the children you look after. Whether you like it or not, they are watching you — children learn from you and take many of their social cues from you. Being a part of their early childhood years makes it very important for you to be a role model.
Obviously, it’s important that you take this responsibility seriously and maintain high personal and professional ethics and standards — not just in Early Childhood Education, but in everything you do!
Ethical Requirements in Childcare: What Childcare Workers Need to Take Note Of
Given the nature of your work as early childhood professionals, it is very important to be mindful of your ethical responsibilities, professional values, and expected behaviour as someone who’ll be working closely with children and directly oversee children’s learning.
Early Childhood Education is vital for the development of children — which is why everyone involved in this crucial stage of children’s learning and growth must be at their A-game.
Your childcare centre will have its own set of policies and standards for staff, but here are some ideas for how you should present yourself at work in a childcare setting:
Early Childhood Professionals Should be Well-Dressed
It doesn’t have to be fancy, but it should be clean and presentable. Remember you’re going to be active and working with children all day, so casual clothes like shorts or jeans and a loose top are perfect.
Make sure any artwork or writing on your shirt is appropriate for early childhood settings and wear conservative clothing – it’s a childcare centre, not a night out with friends.
You’ll be running around outdoors and running activities like painting, so don’t wear anything too fancy unless you don’t mind it getting dirty. If your early childhood centre provides you with a uniform, bonus!
Childcare Workers Must Find Ways to be Efficient
Every day is a busy day, so you need to move fast to keep up. Finding ways to be more efficient will make your life easier and can have additional benefits – for instance, teaching children to help you clean up play areas will reduce your workload and is a valuable lesson for them.
Seek advice from or observe experienced childcare professionals who have been in early childhood services for quite a while, they’ll likely have tricks and techniques you can learn.
These are the types of professional relationships you should learn to forge if you want to maximise your efficiency, especially if you’re new. The goal is to provide quality education to children — and being efficient is key.
When You’re at Work, Work
It’s nice to have a chat or you might want to play with your phone all day and Facebook friends, but as early childhood professionals, when you’re at work, you should work.
Children need your constant care and attention, so rather than chat about your life with workmates, why not talk to and interact with the kids.
Save the conversations with workmates for before or after work — it is your professional responsibility (and your peers as well) to interact with the children, so prioritise them at all times during your work hours.
Leave Your Personal Life at Home
Children are sensitive to your mood, so if you come in upset or angry, they’re going to pick up on it. Put on a brave face for their benefit and you’ll likely improve your own mood at the same time.
Definitely don’t take out your anger or frustration on the children! Your expected behaviour is to be professional, friendly, and approachable —
Early Childhood Professionals Must Get Over Criticism
It’s easy to take criticism personally and hold a grudge against the person who made the comment. Rather than get defensive, accept criticism with an open mind.
Even if their delivery of the message was poor, there might be truth in what they said. Wouldn’t it be better to accept criticism now and change, rather than keep doing it the wrong way?
Respectful relationships amongst your peers in early childhood can also be forged with this. If everyone knows how to take criticisms, just imagine how better off each individual child care worker would be?
If there’s something off about your work ethic that someone may notice, it’s good to be notified by it right away and change for the better.
After all, as childcare workers, you definitely want to improve, so that you can provide the best childcare service you can.
Use Your Common Sense
Perhaps the most elusive of human traits… all jokes aside, as you develop experience in your role as a childcare professional, you will know what needs to be done each day.
You shouldn’t need to be told constantly what you check you did the right thing later) or if you’re not sure, seek help from your supervisor.
Watch your language — You’re a Childcare Worker
You’re a major component of many children’s early years and they will be learning from you constantly.
If you use offensive language, children are sure to start imitating you, which may not impress their parents, and is simply not one of the things you want them to be learning during their early years.
Occasionally something might slip out when you’re having a bad day or make a mistake. Don’t make a big deal out of it, just cover it up with something non-offensive.
After all, you’re still dealing with children, so it wouldn’t be a big deal if you’re quick to react. Early childhood settings should always be light and entertaining, keep it that way.
Be Safe and Healthy
Children are often more vulnerable to illness and disease than adults. If you’re sick, it’s better to take time off than spread your illness to heaps of children.
Childcare can also be a surprisingly hazardous profession. Spills, toys, play equipment and other accidents can create hazards leading cause slips, trips and falls.
Keeping a clean and tidy centre is therefore very important if you’re keen on avoiding any accidents.
Working with children in childcare also requires a lot of lifting and bending. Learning proper manual handling techniques and having good posture is required to minimise the chance of sprains, strains and pulls.
A poor lifting technique can easily lead to back problems which will take you away from work for weeks or months, and become a lifelong problem.
The Early Childhood Australia (ECA) Code of Ethics
If you want a formal manual/guide, check out The ECA Code of Ethics — a set of statements about appropriate behaviour of early childhood professionals, which is designed for early childhood education and care environments.
This is based on the principles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1991). The ECA Code of Ethics reflects current pedagogical research and practice, providing a framework for the ethical responsibilities of early childhood professionals to aide in the pursuit of providing quality education and service to children.
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