A: The qualities of a person suited to educate and care for very young children are, firstly, a commitment to the well-being and emotional security of infants, toddlers and pre-schoolers. It is essential to be able to delight in their company, enjoy being their companion and provide a secure base from which they can venture out into the world. Young children need a trusted adult they can depend upon who gives them warmth and love. They can investigate and then look back to you for safety and nurturing before leaving your side for another look at what’s going on. A suitable adult temperament is one where you patiently guide children in their behaviour and where children are respected. This may seem unusual that adults respect children; shouldn’t it be the other way? If children’s perspectives are understood and respected, they behave well and are ready to play well. A person suited to a career in child care and will communicate with children, through gestures and words, through singing and dancing, through drawing, construction, storytelling and wondering out loud.
A: Be prepared to do some important work and study to set you up for this career. The minimal qualification is a Certificate 3 in Community Services (Children’s Services) through a Registered Training Provider. You can progress through this career by undertaking further study building on each qualification, Diploma in Early Childhood Education and Care, Early Childhood Teaching Degree, A Master of Early Childhood Education to PHD level. Don’t be duped into thinking that child care is just babysitting, wiping noses and changing nappies. It is not cute and cuddly – though a cuddle is characteristic of work with very young children. You’ll be doing essential work during a critical time for human development; the architecture of the brain is determined in the first five years more than at any other time in our lives.
A: This is fast, active and challenging work that is never the same on any one day. It requires reference to legal frameworks, health guidance, compliance, child protection and care and education training. It will be creative, nurturing and intelligent work – every moment! Child care is a complex job. It is impossible to separate ‘care’ from education as children learn so much through care routines, such as how to wash their hands or feed themselves, settle for a rest, or work together with a friend to tidy up the mess they’ve made. You care and you educate; you care and set down patterns for learning. A typical day might begin with preparation, ensuring a safe space for children to play and learn. Checklists of possible hazards are attended to alongside setting up ‘enhancements,’ or learning prompts that are designed for children to wonder and problem solve in many possible ways. Families are greeted and educators will reassure, inform and support the transition from home to service.
Finally, child care work involves interpretation and planning for children’s future learning. We reflect upon what has happened during the day that would indicate what further work is needed. Teams work together on strategically organising resources and staff to meet the very diverse interests and needs of the children who are growing and learning at an accelerated pace not matched at any other time in their life.
A: I regard being a Director of a KU Service as a privilege. The Early Education and Care sector in Australia is critical work that shapes children’s futures. KU Children’s Services, as an organisation, has a clear vision of what this vital work looks like and are proud to be a not-for-profit organisation that can illuminate children at the centre of all the work they do. Research unequivocally informs us that high quality early childhood experience impacts life trajectories. KU Children’s Services is committed to the concept and practice of quality child care. This is what makes the difference and I want to exercise quality in my role. Early Childhood is a fascinating arena. It crosses the boundaries of science, human development, social policy, economics and politics. It is not for the faint hearted; it can be difficult work to manage a team within several partnerships and communities. I like being supported to do all these things as a Director. It is fine work.
Rosanne Pugh is a Director at KU Ourimbah. KU Children’s Services is one of Australia’s leading child care organisations. All centres have been independently assessed against the National Quality Standard as amongst the highest quality in the country, more at ku.com.au For more information about careers in child care, visit tafensw.edu.au/Courses/ChildCare and opencolleges.edu.au/Childcare/Course