Early Childhood Educators (ECEs) are teachers who specialize in working with young children, from toddlers to children of up to six years of age. Their role consists mostly on providing nursing and instruction in the most basic aspects of formal education. Some of the topics they cover include vocabulary, basic reading and writing, and developing the foundations of social interactions. Early Childhood Educators must also create a positive environment and detect behavioural or cognitive difficulties in their students in order to apply the necessary corrections or teaching methods.
The most common place for Early Childhood Educators to work in are kindergartens and daycare centres. These are special facilities filled with the necessary personnel to provide young children with everything they need to boost their physical, mental, and emotional development. Early Childhood Educators may also work in community centres or even for companies that offer daycare services to their employers.
Here’s a non-exhaustive list of common tasks Early Childhood Educators are required to complete.
- Providing a stimulating, caring, inclusive, safe, and clean environment for infants and toddlers:
- Ensuring children’s safety by identifying and preventing potential risks and health hazards; 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 routines to familiarize students with daily habits and necessities (e.g. washing hands), including feeding them lunch/snacks and ensuring they get proper rest;
- teaching children pre-literacy, reading and language skills (e.g. rhymes, alphabets, and numbers), motor skills, and shape and colour recognition;
- organizing activities that promote and facilitate the development of social, creative, and physical skills;
- ensuring that all activities also serve to promote and improve each child’s individual self-esteem; and
- individualizing the curriculum as required, ensuring that all activities are accessible.
- Using different teaching methods in order to adapt to each child’s individual needs:
- Instructing infants and toddlers on how to convey their ideas, feelings, and needs by establishing conversations, asking, and responding to their questions; and
- improving children’s behaviour by explaining and demonstrating good practices to them.
- Identifying any behavioural or cognitive difficulties children may present in order to apply the necessary corrections or special methods:
- Identifying and adapting to each child’s individual personality, skills, and necessities;
- devoting extra time to tend to the special needs of some children;
- tracking and reporting children’s health, safety, and well-being; and
- reporting any abusive situation to the 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 towards 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
- meeting with parents and other staff members in order to discuss behavioural and learning difficulties children may present.
- Stimulating and assisting in the integral development of children’s skills.
- Maintaining a caring, inclusive, safe, and hygienic environment.
- Developing schedules and routines, all while 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.