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, learning from you and taking many of their social cues from you. Obviously it’s important that you take this responsibility seriously and maintain high personal and professional ethics and standards!
Ethics and professional standards for childcare workers
Your childcare centre will have their 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:
It doesn’t have to be fancy, but it should be clean and presentable. Remember you’re going to be active and working with kids 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 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 unless you don’t mind it getting dirty. If your centre provides you with a uniform, bonus!
Find ways to be more 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, they’ll likely have tricks and techniques you can learn.
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 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.
Leave your home 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!
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?
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 major component of many children’s lives 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… 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.
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 then spread your illness to dozens of children.
Childcare can also be a surprisingly hazard profession. Spills, toys, play equipment and other accidents can create hazards leading cause slips, trips and falls. Keep a clean and tidy centre is therefore very important
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. 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.
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