Caring for other people’s children will be your core responsibility, and as such, you will be a very important person in the lives of children and parents/guardians.
Childcare providers and caregivers need a particular set of skills to work effectively and respectfully with children. All babies and toddlers in childcare need nurturing, responsive providers and caregivers they can trust to care for them as they grow and learn. Early education and childcare is an important profession and you should never underestimate the skills required to do the job.
Among the key skills needed by the early education and childcare practitioner is the ability to be approachable, adaptable and flexible.
- Childcare is a job that requires knowledge and understanding, with professional values, aptitudes and abilities as well as a personal commitment. It is through these professional values that the early education and childcare practitioner provide a quality service for children and their families.
- The best practitioners are those who are flexible and adaptable to change as, when you are working with children, situations are constantly changing.
- While working with children is a very interesting and varied career, it is also a job that requires careful planning and preparation, personal skills and attributes. These include skills of communication, problem-solving and the ability to work with others.
- You will also find you need to have the skills to organise and plan activities for children and to prepare, manage and organise the play environment for them.
- Children are unique individuals and you should be aware of how to work with a range of children with varying needs. This includes understanding that children will have different dispositions with different ways of playing and learning, and understanding what additional support a child may need from time to time.
- There is also a requirement of reporting and recording, through observations, what young children do and how this is used in planning appropriate experiences to support their learning and development.
- A commitment to on-going professional development and training will also be necessary in order to keep your skills up-to-date with changes and developments.
However, as proprietor you will also have to take on the role of manager, and in this capacity you will need a whole different set of skills - those necessary to be a professional manager.
- Internal and external communications
- Client services
- Information management
The National Children’s’ Bureau (1994) suggests the aim of management in an early childhood service is “to provide management which ensures the nursery is operating smoothly, which is responsive to the needs of parents, children and staff members, and which is open to suggestions for development”. Overall, it can be said that the duty of a manager is to assist in achieving the short and long term aims of the service by effectively utilising the resources at their disposal.
The following framework could be used to assist managers in achieving these aims:
- Setting Objectives
- Analyzing the Situation
In childcare, there are many different management requirements, as services may be managed by self -employed owners, management committees or parents, however, French (2000) suggests that whatever structure is chosen for the service, there should always be a system of consultation with parents
French also outlines other points for consideration:
- Management structure should be clear and open to all
- Management should be responsive to the conditions of staff members and needs of parents
- Compliance of legal obligations should be absolute
- Chain of command should always involve management taking ultimate responsibility in all areas
- Unless the service is managed by parents, an advisory group where parents have a strong voice should be in place
- Any major changes taking place should involve the whole group
- Management decisions should be made after consulting with those affected by the decisions
Different styles of management exist; however, these should not take precedence over clear communication, support and development of your staff and service.