Early Childhood Educators (ECE) provide nurturing care and education to young children (usually between the ages of infancy and 6 years) in a group setting, ensuring that every child’s individual needs are met. They lead infants and toddlers in activities to stimulate and develop their intellectual, physical, and emotional growth, as well as to ensure their security and well-being.
Early Childhood Educators are employed in childcare centres, daycare centres, kindergartens, agencies for exceptional children, and other settings where early childhood education services are provided. They usually report to ECE Coordinators and/or ECE Managers and might supervise ECE Assistants when working for larger organizations.
Here’s a non-exhaustive list of common tasks Early Childhood Educators are required to complete.
- Providing a stimulating, caring, inclusive, safe and hygienic environment for infants and toddlers:
- Being responsible for the constant supervision, safety, and well-being of children; and
- maintaining a clean environment, promoting good personal hygiene and hand washing, as well as assisting in housekeeping duties (e.g. ensuring toys, furniture, and equipment are appropriately cleaned and sanitized).
- Assisting in planning, preparing, and implementing a high quality, play-based, developmentally appropriate curriculum to foster physical, cognitive, emotional, and social development:
- Developing schedules and enforcing routines to familiarize students with daily habits and necessities (e.g. washing hands), including feeding them lunch/snacks and ensuring they get proper rest;
- providing a daily balance of active/quiet, indoor/outdoor and individual/group activities;
- teaching children pre-literacy, reading and language skills (e.g. rhymes, alphabets, and numbers), motor skills, and shape and colour recognition;
- providing opportunities to express creativity through art, dramatic play, music and physical activity;
- facilitating and nurturing the development of each child’s self-esteem, trust, and growing autonomy; and
- individualizing the curriculum as required, ensuring that all activities are accessible.
- Using a variety of teaching techniques including modelling, observing, questioning, and reinforcing:
- Assisting children in expressing themselves by listening and responding with questions/comments that extend conversations; and
- improving children’s behaviour by explaining and demonstrating good practices to them.
- Recognizing and responding to the needs of each child by using appropriate child behaviour guidance strategies:
- Responding quickly to children’s different and individual needs (verbal and non-verbal cues), temperament styles, skills, and abilities;
- determining specific times during the day when some children may require extra staffing support;
- tracking and reporting children’s health, safety, and well-being, in order to identify signs of illness, injury, abuse, neglect, emotional disturbance, or other special needs (e.g. learning or behavioural difficulties); and
- reporting any abusive situation to appropriate authorities, whether the child is experiencing physical, sexual, emotional, and/or verbal abuse.
- Observing, monitoring, and tracking each child’s individual progress and development to make sure they work successfully toward achieving pre-established learning and behavioural goals:
- Complying with all recording and reporting requirements outlined by national and provincial policies and procedures (e.g. daily log, incident reports, and medication administration); and
- discussing progress or problems with parents and other staff members.
- Stimulating and developing children’s intellectual, physical and emotional growth and ensuring their security and well-being.
- Maintaining a caring, inclusive, safe and hygienic environment.
- Developing schedules, enforcing routines, and promoting good behaviours and habits.
- Tracking and reporting children’s progress and development, as well as their health, safety, and well-being.
The average salary for Early Childhood Educator (ECE) related jobs is $33,588 per year or $17 per hour. This is the same as the Median wage of the country. Entry level positions start at $24,000 while most experienced workers make up to $47,000. These results are based on 57 salaries extracted from job descriptions.
- Strong interpersonal and communication skills:
- Communicating clearly and confidently, both in writing and verbally, in order to create a clear, communicative, and nurturing environment for children;
- using tact, patience, and good judgment when communicating with parents and staff to maintain effective and collaborative relationships;
- being a great listener, as well as being able to easily and efficiently identify children’s needs and difficulties (e.g. learning and behavioural difficulties); and
- being an effective team player.
- Strong sense of empathy and compassion:
- Demonstrating sensitivity to individual needs of children;
- displaying an inherent ability to make others feel cared about; and
- being able to work within a multicultural environment, showing consideration and respect to a diverse range of children and families of all backgrounds and abilities.
- Optimistic, energetic, with a fun-loving attitude and a strong ability to motivate others.
- High levels of creativity, initiative, flexibility, and responsiveness, as well as strong leadership skills:
- Adapting well to changing demands;
- using creativity and imagination to develop new insights and to apply new solutions to problems;
- demonstrating exceptional supervisory skills and providing complete safety and comfort to children; and
- being able to model healthy adult-child relationships and positive discipline.
- Organizational and time management skills:
- Strategically structuring and customizing teaching curriculum;
- prioritizing and planning work activities as to use time efficiently while handling a high volume, diverse workload; and
- multitasking; being able to work under pressure in a dynamic, fast-paced environment.
Aside from the skills listed above, Early Childhood Educators also need to demonstrate a thorough understanding of early childhood development, including best practices and related current research. They must also understand and comply with all regulations related to early years’ programs (e.g. school board policies and procedures, as well as provincial and national legislations).
Early Childhood Educators must have completed an Early Childhood Education college degree, or a combination of education and experience that yields the required knowledge, skills, and abilities. Familiarity with health and safety regulations is often required, yet always preferred.
Additional certifications are definite assets, including, but not limited to, the following:
- Early Childhood Educator Licence to Practice;
- Reconceptualizing Early Childhood Education (RECE);
- Infant/Toddler Certifications;
- Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) Certificate; and
- First-Aid Certification, along with a Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) Certification.
Most Early Childhood Educator positions require a minimum of 0 to 2 years of child care experience, working with infants and toddlers. All Early Childhood Educators must have a clear criminal record and a medical certification of good health. Most companies will also conduct child welfare checks and vulnerable sector checks prior to hiring an Early Childhood Educator.
Early Childhood Educators must also be able to work flexible schedules (e.g. rotating shifts), as well as to stand, bend, crouch, and kneel for extensive hours.