Choosing a Career in Child Care

Choosing a Career in Child Care - Understanding Jobs and Working Environments

When you envision life as a child care provider, you likely have a very specific picture in mind. But child care providers work in a wide variety of settings, and the job options available to child specialists are as diverse as the child care providers themselves are! Good child care providers work in settings that make them feel comfortable and that encourage them to be excited about getting up every day to go to work. Before you being training for or pursuing a career in child care, consider where you’d like to work.

In-Home Care Providers

Childcare providers who work in the parents’ home are usually called nannies. As a nanny, you’ll be solely responsible for the well-being of the children in your care, and will work directly with the child’s parents to find childcare strategies that work for the entire family. It’s important to note that a nanny is different from a babysitter. Babysitters provide periodic care, and are often neighborhood teenagers or students. Nannies are childcare professionals who work long hours, and they typically have a strong educational background in child health, nutrition, and development. Some keys to being a good nanny include:

Creativity and motivation. You won’t have a supervisor planning activities or lessons and daily activities on your behalf. You’ll have to come up with them on your own.

  • Good communication skills. You’ll need to regularly communicate with the parents, and will have to be comfortable navigating disputes and disagreements. You may also have to talk as the parent representative when dealing with Doctors or other child care providers.
  • The ability to work independently. Nannies are isolated from other adults for long hours every day. You’ll need to be able to work for extended periods of time without getting bored.
  • Time Management. Although you are usually alone with the children there are still daily duties that need to be completed. Children need to be entertained, fed, cleaned and given opportunities to rest. A lot of Nanny positions include some domestic duties as well so you have to be able to manage your time to be able to complete all tasks expected.
  • Professionalism.  The responsibility of having children in your care is huge never more so than when you are the sole person responsible for their wellbeing for periods of time. Ensuring that you place the children’s needs first and always act in a responsible professional manner is of utmost importance.

Centre-Based Care Providers

Centre-based child care providers may work in daycares, preschools, private facilities, or camps. You’ll typically work under the direction of a centre supervisor, and will likely have several co-workers with whom you discuss child care duties and daily activities. This is an ideal job for highly social people who work well in a team. Other traits of good child care providers include:

  • The ability to work with a diverse group of people
  • A willingness to work with a wide variety of children. Unlike nannies, centre-based child care providers work with the children they’re assigned rather than getting to choose their own clients.
  • The ability to take direction from a supervisor
  • A willingness to submit daily reports and complete similar paperwork. Most child care facilities require providers to document daily activities, injuries, nutritional issues, and interactions with parents.

 There’s no right or wrong way to choose a child care profession. Instead, the key is to find something that makes you happy. When you love your job, it shows in your interactions with children and their parents.

About Author: Letitia Anderson has served the Childcare industry for more than 20 years. She has worked in almost every form of childcare development including Long Day Care, Occasional Care, and Resort Care. She considers herself fortunate to have worked with 13 training centres as the Human Resource Manager and involving herself in training courses and employment programs for child care workers on Gold Coast and North Queensland. She is presently the manager of a well-known training organisation for Childcare services on the Gold Coast.

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