Top Skills Required to be an Early Childhood Educator
With most Australian parents working, the need for early childhood educators is going to rise over the next few years. In fact, in Victoria alone, more than 6,000 new early childhood teachers are going to be needed state-wide by 2026. If you wish to help and give the next generation the best start in life, then you should be armed with the necessary skills to shape children’s education, social skills and emotional wellbeing.
Hard and soft skills are both of equal importance for an early childhood educator to become an effective professional in the field.
An educator who will focus only on possessing hard skills may be able to deliver quality education but would find it difficult to manage a class with varying levels of learning pace, properly plan and deliver lessons, keep students engaged in class and be collaborative, and may have a hard time in collaborating with their peers in the academia such as colleagues and school administrators. Inversely, a teacher who has strong soft skills, but limited hard skills, may not be as competent when it comes to teaching but will excel in other aspects like teamwork, problem-solving, communication, and other facets which are essential for the profession.
That being said, early childhood educators should receive a well-balanced professional development for them not only to gain hard skills but also to develop their soft skills to make them better professionals that can contribute positively to the field of education.
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Essential Hard Skills for Early Childhood Educators:
- Computer Skills – in today’s ever-progressing technology, computer skills are a must in any industry. These may include typing skills, emails, presentations, social media management, online research, etc.
- Management Skills – this may seem like people skills, but it is half-hearted as management skills include project management, scheduling, logistics, planning, and negotiation.
- Writing Skills – a solid command of the writing techniques will give you the needed boost in teaching. This skillset includes basic writing (grammar, punctuation, spelling, and vocabulary), note-taking, letter and email writing, academic writing, editing, data visualisation, etc.
Essential Soft Skills for Early Childhood Educators:
- Understanding Diversity – children come from different home environments and backgrounds, which will lead to different learning needs and styles. Early childhood educators should be able to accept these differences to ensure all students can achieve the identified learning objectives despite their different learning styles.
- Communication Skills – communicating with children requires a different tone to be able to articulate the things that you are saying and adjust it to the level of understanding of childing. The ability to quickly shift gears in terms of communication is also important as a teacher needs to talk to a lot of other people like parents, co-workers, and members of the administration.
- Organisation – since young children thrive on well-founded structure and predictability, being well-organised can help you multitask, respond to the competing needs of students at the same time, and generally keep things running smoothly.
- Creativity – teaching children requires teachers to be comfortable using arts and crafts, games, storytelling, and even exercise as part of the learning process. It is important to keep things fresh and try new activities to adapt to the students’ rather short attention span, keeping them engaged.
- Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving Skills – a teacher who handles multiple students at a time should have the ability to handle difficult situations and make decisive actions immediately. In relation to this, a teacher should also think objectively and analyse a situation clearly to come up with a decision that is suiting the circumstances at hand.
- Flexibility and Patience – you may plan a perfect day of learning but remember that everything can be derailed by your students (regularly). It is important for teachers to have the ability to pivot when circumstances call for it, without the need to burst and show emotions unnecessarily.
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All in all, a comprehensive professional development program is important for aspiring early childhood teachers as it allows them to build on their hard and soft skills, allowing them to learn new techniques and strategies to handle the intricacies of early childhood education. Through professional development, early education teachers can maximise their potential and hone their skills to move up in their chosen careers.
Do you wish to start your career in early childhood education but are unsure where to start in developing the skills needed?
The Global Business College of Australia (GBCA) offers two courses in early childhood education and care that focuses on nurturing your hard and soft skills for a career in early childhood education.
Learn more about our early childhood education courses below: