Early Childhood Educators

‘Education has the power to transform lives […] This begins with making sure that every young child has the opportunity to benefit from structured play-based learning before they start school, because this helps build the social, emotional and cognitive skills they need to succeed in the years to come.’

– Alice Springs (Mparntwe) Declaration, 2019

Children’s early learning shapes their whole lives. Research has proven that quality early learning in a child’s first five years has a vital impact on their entire future. That’s why early childhood educators have such a big role to play. Early childhood educators support and guide children’s learning and development, to give every child the best chance in life. Now that’s an important job.

Educators plan, play, encourage, explain, nurture and inspire.

They understand that learning has many aspects, each of them important as children grow: physical, social, emotional, personal, spiritual, creative and cognitive.

Why is early learning so important?

In the first few years of a child’s life, the brain builds more than one million new connections every second. The amazing human brain never again develops so rapidly.

We need to ensure that this early brain development provides a strong foundation for children’s later learning and success.

We work with children aged birth-5 years. We establish strong relationships with them, to help them feel secure and confident. We plan and deliver activities for children, and we also respond to lots of amazing spontaneous moments. We explain, question and demonstrate. We are always assessing how each child is doing and what they need to support their learning and development. At a minimum, we have a Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care, or we are studying for our Cert III while we work. We play an incredibly important role.

Stephen (QLD)

Why did you decide to become an early childhood educator?
After school, I worked with children for a few years, then left to work in a variety of other sectors. After having my son, and being around friends with their young kids, my passion for working with young children steered me to making an effort to work in the industry.
What is the most valuable thing you’ve learned from the children you work with?
Empathy and patience. I feel I had plenty when I entered the industry, but this has easily doubled or tripled in the time since I started. Every child has their own needs and their own story - taking the time to learn these and help them flourish is important
What experiences from your own life have been most useful in your work with young children? Every day with my two year old son, something new happens. It’s a great lesson in being flexible and ready for anything.
Learn how to become an Early Childhood Educator
We take a lead role in planning the educational program. That means we decide the best way to deliver the early childhood curriculum for the children in our care. We provide advice and support to other educators, to build an effective early learning team. We also work directly with children, alongside our educator colleagues. We have a Diploma in Early Childhood Education and Care, or we are gaining our diploma while we work. Our role has a remarkable impact in little lives.

Heather (VIC)

What’s it like to study while you’re working as an educator?
I have studied all my courses, including my Bachelor, while working full-time. I find it invaluable to be working in the industry every day while studying. You get the hands-on experience to put what you are learning into action. You also have the opportunity to seek support and advice from others around you at work, on topics you may be struggling with or not understand.
What is the most valuable thing you’ve learned from the children you work with?
The resilience and capabilities of young children. I admire their resilience and honesty in tough situations, which I have seen in many different circumstances. I have also learned not to underestimate any child – they can achieve anything with the support of educators, peers, and their families.
What do you wish that other people understood better about your job?
That we do so much more than just look after children, and how truly rewarding my job is. It is extremely rewarding setting up engaging and exciting play spaces and experiences for the children and watching them succeed and master new skills, and the happy smiles when they do. I absolutely love the enjoyment and greetings the children give me on arrival to the service. What could be more rewarding?
Learn how to become an Early Childhood Lead Educator

We deliver preschool/kindergarten programs to children in the two years before they start school, and we can work with younger children. We help them to develop the knowledge and skills that will set them up for success at school and beyond. We know how to teach early literacy and numeracy and to support emotional development. We understand the importance of children becoming self-reliant, collaborative and confident. We have a Bachelor of Early Childhood Education, or we are studying for our degree while we work. We play such an important part in little lives, preparing them for everything to come.

Padmini (VIC)

Why did you decide to become an early childhood educator?
One of my earliest memories of growing up in India is of me pretending to be a teacher and sparing no walls in my house. I unconsciously steered away from teaching as a career, as it wasn’t considered ‘successful’ enough. But after moving to Australia, it did not take long to realise that this is my chance to reinvent myself. Early childhood teaching was the most appealing to me, given its responsiveness to children, autonomy in building a curriculum and its play and relationship-based approach.
What experiences from your own life have been most useful in your work with young children?
The fact that, across generations, children gravitate to the same things: play, nature and relationships. I use these three elements in aspects of my teaching. Children thrive as they play, take risks and build meaningful relationships with adults, peers, animals and nature.
What do you wish that other people understood better about your job?
Early childhood is not a ‘baby-sitting’ service. The first five years of a child’s life shapes the person they are going to become in the future. It is more than getting them ‘ready for school’. It is about celebrating who they are and bringing out a life-long love for learning and curiosity.

Learn how to become an Early Childhood Teacher

We make sure that all of the children at our service are thriving and that our educators are a great team. We work with parents to understand the best ways to help their children learn. We collaborate with other organisations to find specialised support for children and families who need it. We are responsible for ensuring our service meets the National Quality Standard for early learning and care services. At a minimum, we have a Diploma in Early Childhood Education and Care, or we are undertaking this qualification while we work. Our big role supports so many children and families in our community.

Sarah (NSW)

How do you know when you’ve had a positive impact on a child’s learning or development?
To have a positive impact on a child’s learning and development, my focus is their sense of belonging. A child who feels safe and secure within their environment will, in turn, flourish within their learning and development journey. Seeing a child develop secure relationships with both their peers and educators is when I know I have had a significant impact on their time at the service and on their future.
What is the most valuable thing you’ve learned from the children you work with?
Working with children has taught me to live in the moment as much as possible. Life is short, and they just soak up each moment to make the most of it. They may have a disagreement with a peer, but it doesn’t take long to work through it. They are resilient and so capable. As adults, we lose these skill sets more as each year passes.
If you were a three-year-old today, what element of early learning and care would you love the most?
The ability to have a voice and choice within my day. I remember being in preschool as a child and being told to sleep, even though this was the last thing I wanted to do. We work very hard today to ensure each child’s voice is heard and catered for. Individualising our care and education as much as possible is the aim each day we arrive at work

Learn how to become an Early Childhood Manager or Director