Have you ever wondered what it’s like to work in the Early Childhood Education sector? Tara Goom, our Lead Trainer for Early Childhood and Care, has had years of experience working in childcare centres before becoming a Trainer. We asked her to give us insight into what it’s like.
We asked her what it’s like to work as an early childhood educator.
What’s it like to work in the early childhood sector?
It is an incredibly rewarding job working with children and their families. You really feel that you are making a difference in their lives. It can be physically demanding and challenging but if you have a good team it is a role that you would feel passionate about.
What does a typical day look like?
No day will ever be the same – and will depend on the groups that you have in on any one
day. You could be setting up activities with the children, doing programming, dealing with challenging behaviours! Usually, the staff will open up the centre ready for the day and perhaps get the morning fruit ready. Greeting the children as they come in with their families. Have activities set up for them and take them outside for morning play.
On a good weather day you could have a picnic outside for morning tea (making sure you are in the shade!). Activities and then getting ready for lunch and rest. After rest, the children have afternoon tea and there may be activities set up or outside play – you have to be flexible as to what the weather is like, the mix of the children and things like that!
Usually we call this our ‘daily flow’.
Is the industry culturally diverse?
Yes, very much so… we used to have a large natural sign at the front with ‘welcome’ in lots of languages. Posters and resources are all very diverse and books and songs. We had Indonesian educators and every year one of our Christmas songs was in Indonesian… the children loved it. We also used to have families come in a cook different foods like dumplings, rice and sushi.
Honestly children loved the diversity days! We had traditional dress-up days too. Most centres also celebrate cultural festivals and holidays like Diwali, Chinese New Year as well as NAIDOC week. Once we had Aunty Di come in to teach the children about Aboriginal Culture…and that was amazing!
What is the most challenging, yet rewarding part of the job?
Having children with additional needs that you can work with – with the families as well to support those children who need it. It can be very challenging and at times you might feel like you are getting nowhere, but when they reach a milestone or something clicks and they understand something, it is amazing!
What’s an example of someone who dramatically benefited from the work you do?
I had a child with a difficult family background and I had worked with the children from the babies and toddlers room. His behaviour affected the other children and educators and when he moved down into my Junior Kindy room I worked with the family and did a support plan for the child. I worked 1:1 with him and his behaviour improved and he began to see that his behaviours were affecting others. It took a long time but the child and the family became closer and the family situation improved and the child was just the most loving child I have had in my rooms. They were really sad to leave when the child went to school but I like to think that I helped support them when they most needed it
What’s the best part about working as an early childhood worker?
The people you work with, the children and their families and knowing that you are making a difference in their lives. Also the chance to interact with the children and have fun with them – being able to be silly but also know that you are teaching them lifelong attributes that they will take through into adulthood. Learning about new things all the time and talking to the children about what they like – the conversations that you can have with them are just the best! They can amaze you everyday!
Why did you want to become an ECE trainer?
I was working as a swimming teacher and wanted to do more so I volunteered at a centre that also had a swim academy so that I could do both! Swimming was my passion and it transferred over into childcare.
Is there industry demand?
It has been a little harder with Covid but there are still a lot of centres out there and more opening up all the time. I do also think that if you show a willingness to work as part of a team and be enthusiastic and positive this will make it easier for a centre to take you on.
What are the job requirements?
What experience does someone need?
To do the Certificate III you do not need experience – you do have to be willing to work hard and be enthusiastic and willing to learn!
What qualifications does an ECE worker need?
You can volunteer without any qualifications if you can show that you are working towards a qualification. No quals needed for the Cert III or Diploma currently, however with the new course – the pre-requisite for the Diploma will be a Cert III in ECE
What types of people do you think the sector really needs?
People who are caring and nurturing as well as fun! The children learn through play and when you join in and interact with them then their learning will only improve. You have to be passionate and enthusiastic and love working with children.
What personal qualities make a good ECE worker?
Hardworking, willing to learn, honest, reliable, fun, caring and nurturing – and not being afraid to show those qualities to the children and families.
About the job
What are the pay rates?
There are different rates for full time and casual and whether you hold a qualification or working towards one.
Is work typically full time, part-time, or casual?
There is a mixture depending on where you are, what’s needed, what qualifications you might have.
What are the hours?
Typically centres will be open from 6.30 am to 6.30 pm so there are early shifts that open up the centres and then the close shift will close down the centre. There are usually a number of ‘middle’ shifts dependant on the centre.
What types of duties does the job involve?
Interacting with the children and families, working as part of a team, setting up learning environments for the children, programming and observations, ensuring the health, safety and wellbeing of the children at all times, mealtimes, cleaning.
What types of workplaces do ECE workers work in?
Head offices for larger organisations, Operations Managers, Trainers and Assessors, running own Family Day Care, OSHC.
Where can it take me?
Directors, Schools, RTOs, Head Offices, Additional Care organisations
About the course
You can study:
· Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care
· Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care
You will need to source your placement yourself and we do recommend you go into the centres to show your face and introduce yourself! It is always better to do this so that they will remember you rather than calling – if you can! We have Vocational Placement Coordinator to help support you with placement and trainers to guide you through the practical components.
How long will it take? How will it work with my life?
It can take however long you want it to take! The Certificate is a year-long course and the Diploma is two years. I did my Diploma in eight months because I wanted to finish it and start working!
How will I be supported?
Inspire Education will support you through Trainer Calls and Messages as well as Forums and webinars. These are all available Monday to Friday and we have wonderfully supportive trainers in ECE who know what you’re going through.
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