But before you get too carried away, you need to ask yourself if enjoying the company of children is enough to succeed in today’s early childhood education sector. Like many industries, early childhood is highly government regulated with strict codes of conduct and procedures. It needs to be this way because educators are delivering a service which impacts on children and families’ lives at a very personal level.
Having the right personality for a job with young children is vitally important. As an educator, it helps if you are a confident, responsible and a fun-loving person. Children look up to you as one of their significant role models, so it is important to be organised and relaxed at the same time. A sense of fun and adventure is a must. Children can be high energy, exuberant little characters and, at times, can be both physically demanding and tiring. Every child is different from the next; some having higher needs than others. When you work as an early childhood educator you are really projecting and giving a lot of yourself.
Successful early childhood educators also need to be committed to engage and build relationships with children and their parents. Often children attend early education and care settings for between two and five years before they transition to primary school. During this time there can be many changes in a child’s development or family situation that need to be considered to support the child and family’s wellbeing. Educators who are attuned to children’s lives, thoughts and feelings support the development of a strong sense of wellbeing. The key is to give priority to nurturing relationships and creating welcoming environments where all children and families are respected. This means being open-minded, culturally inclusive and respecting the families’ right to confidentiality
Job diversity is another positive aspect of working in the early childhood and education sector. When you have completed your TAFE qualifications you can work as an educator in an education and care service including centre-based long day care, preschools, before and after school care, vacation care or set up a business in your own home as a family day care educator. Some education and care services have all these options within one complex and you may be offered the opportunity of working with different age groups.
For those of you who are a little more adventurous, after completing your qualification you can explore the world and be employed as a nanny with families, job agencies, on cruise ships or at resorts worldwide. This is ideal for the young traveller who wants to experience other cultures, gain experience in the industry and earn money along the way.
If you want to go to University but need to gain more qualifications or want to be more prepared before you do, then a TAFE-to-Uni Pathway is the way to go. You can use your training and qualifications from TAFE towards your degree so you can start at a more advanced stage. North Coast TAFE can also offer a possible ‘entry bonus’ into our partner universities which gives you a better chance of getting into the degree you want.
Thinking ahead, employment prospects in early childhood and education are very positive. More and more families need high quality, professional educators as they elect to return to the workforce before their children reach school age.
By November 2019 it is predicted there will be 50,000 more early childhood and education employment opportunities across Australia compared with November 2014, and jobs for up to 25,000 more early childhood teachers. And the good news is that jobs growth is not skewed towards capital cities, but will spread throughout regional and rural Australia too.
So, if you’re still interested in early childhood education and think you fit the bill check out TAFEnow’s online study options – the Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and care at tafenow.com.au/chc30114 or the Diploma of Early Childhood Education and care at tafenow.com.au/chc50113. There are clear pathways from the Certificate III, to the Diploma, to Early Childhood Education degrees.
One thing’s for sure, if you want a career that makes a real difference to people’s lives, early childhood education and care fits the bill in so many ways.