With 90% of brain development occurring before the age of 5, the experiences and influences a child has in this time is no doubt formative to their entire being. Tasked with an often misunderstood, yet imperative job, Early Childhood Educators nurture little minds in their most formative stages to see the world with curiosity and excitement.
In this series, we delve into the behind-the-scenes of working in the early education and care profession. We want to hear from Early Learning professionals about the adventures, the magic, the advocacy and the healing power that working with children has on the soul.
Have you fought off pirates in the sandpit today? Have you planted a seed and eagerly waited for it to sprout? Were you engaged in a conversation about why the grass is green? Are you passionate about advocacy and being a catalyst for change in the sector? We want to hear your stories and insights into what it means to be an Early Childhood Educator.
The following unfiltered thoughts may contain themes that might be difficult to read or triggering to some readers. Readers in need can visit our Creating a Safe Space page to see a full list of support services.
Being an early childhood educator is a great privilege. I love making a pivotal impact on a child’s learning and development. This role is very pressuring and I strive to manage the day-to-day challenges that come my way. What I enjoy most about my role is the ability to understand the different learning needs of children and devise strategies to promote their ongoing development. A key aspect of this role is showing empathy and understanding each child’s lived experience. Not all children come from similar walks of life and it’s important to create a safe space where they can openly express themselves.
Kayshini (she/her), 25 NSW
A morning as an educational leader.
Arrive to work at 8 am. Drop my child off at her room and stay for extra snuggles as she’s having a hard morning. 8:15, I leave to say hi to everyone else. Hmm, the sandpit is looking a bit empty. I should put in a maintenance request when I get to my desk. Oh dear, preschool is having a hard morning. Support one, two, three children with morning transitions. It’s now 9 am they are behind in morning tea. Help cut up fruit and support children in washing hands. 9:30, leave preschool to finish saying hello. Get to the office to see a tour booked at 9:45. Run to the bathroom, have a drink, and greet the new family. Walk through the service answering questions, and showing what an amazing place it is for children. Finish the tour. 10 am. Finally, sit at my desk.
Samantha (she/her), 28 ACT
More than a job
There wasn’t much I did other than put it back to sleep when it cried. Taking care of a fairly new baby — and I mean less than a year and even closer to 6 months — had its challenges, but it became the most rewarding thing I ever did. Why I volunteered at first, I can’t remember. It just felt like a duty of mine, if that makes sense, to help this kid, this fraction of a human who was yet to understand who they were themselves, let alone understand who I was, and all I had to do was rock it back to sleep.
The first few seconds once I picked it up may have been the only stressful part of the whole ordeal, but when it was snuggled against my body, a bubble formed around us. All I could focus on was the small, helpless treasure in my arms. The even better part was, after it stopped screaming and its breaths relaxed, it let out a sigh which made my heart flutter. The baby wasn’t even related to me, but there was something in me that knew I loved that child.
Josh (he/him), 18 NSW
Life’s simple pleasures
Being an early childhood educator is much more than just babysitting. In the early childhood sector, we care for the mental, social, emotional, and educational development of young people and provide passionate, authentic, and loving environments for children to explore. For me, being an educator means being patient, energetic, and encouraging for the young people I care for, whilst watching them grow into confident and self-efficient learners. Since starting my career in early childhood education and care, through my daily interactions with children, I am reminded to just enjoy life’s simple pleasures, take it easy and enjoy being curious and taking risks. I have learned that it doesn’t matter what people think, and it is important to role model this to the young children I care for. As I engage with young people in their play I am reminded of my own childhood, my creativity, and my curiosity about the world around me and how I so desperately wanted to learn more and more and more every single day. I use these memories to influence my practice and encourage the use of play as a way to escape from reality and truly enjoy being a child.
Jessica (she/her), 25 NSW
The magic of children
I have been working in a creche for the past three years, providing short-term care for children aged 6 weeks to 12 years. It has been one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had, and I have loved being part of the lives of so many children. One of the best things about working in Early Childhood Education is getting to see young children grow, develop, and go through different milestones. Sometimes you might not see a baby for a few weeks, and when you see them again, they have gone from crawling to walking! It’s magic! Another time, I hadn’t seen a mother and their children for a few months, and when the mother returned to the creche, she came back with her newborn baby! I hadn’t even realised she was pregnant. Another thing I love about working with children is their pure positivity. Children have the unique ability to truly see the best in everyone and every situation. Kids are also naturally curious, and I find it amazing to get a glimpse into the unique ways in which children see and understand the world around them.
Stephanie (she/her), 21 TAS
“I don’t know how you do it!”
The common statement I’m sure we have all heard when we respond to the question “what do you do for work?”. For me, my response is always the same; “I do it for them”. There are hard days and days when I just want to stay home in silence and have the chance to hear my own thoughts. But if I didn’t do it, who else would?
The constant illness, the toll it takes on my emotional well-being, my mental health just never being the same as it used to be, and don’t forget the constant question of “why?” EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. from fifty different tiny voices.
But every day, I still show up, for them. To hear them, to empower them, to be the person they trust, and feel safe around, the person who notices when something just isn’t right. The educator, the voice, the friend. The person I wish was there for me.
Rebecca (she/her), 23 ACT
While I’m not an early childhood educator, I do work in the youth sector with early high school students. Its baffling that so many of our experiences and concepts of the world are shaped so early on, and so by the time children have grown into early teens, their sense of the world is truly shaped by their environment they’ve grown up in. I have so much respect for early childhood educators, and introducing elements like respect, death, empathy, and self esteem is such a heavy burden I imagine for early childhood educators.
Crystal (she/her), 26 NSW
A cocktail of love and innocence
Through every carer’s eye, in what makes the child they adore, there is perfection and there is individuation, creating an endearing concoction, a cocktail of love and innocence that one cannot deny brings joy to their fluttering heart. Working with children does not bring strain or anger like what those who’ve never experienced it say.
It is rewarding and prosperous, taking you on the journey alongside the children, allowing you the front seat to their self-organised talent shows or the grandstand view to their mini floormat Grand Prix. One day you might find yourself trapped in a cage made of pillows, and the next, running away from a monstrous dinosaur or even a bad robot man, but what you can always count on is them being invested in everything they do as if it were the only thing that made them happy.
No one can understand the true mind of a child, but their carers get pretty darn close.
Joshua (he/him), 18 NSW
An AMAZING Privilege
When I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life, I had this overwhelming urge to work in Early Childhood. Since I started studying I have always worked in Early Childhood, specifically in the area of disability. Working in this area has highlighted to me the importance of environment and support in the formative years of a child, their brain and their personalities.
Creating an environment for the children where they feel safe was the most important thing in my role.
This often meant pretending to be a pirate, or a robber, being sent to jail, pretending to be dinosaurs and practicing animal walks all around the centre. Once they felt safe and comfortable it was so amazing to see them flourish and grow into wonderful little humans. Feeling so comfortable, they would be willing to experiment and challenge themselves with what they may like, the activities they enjoy and really coming out of their shells. It was an absolute privilege to be part of this process and watch them grow!
Madieson (she/her), 24 WA