6 Skills You Need as an Early Educator
Education is one of the most essential building blocks you can offer a child. With a good education, the children under an educator's patronage can develop a diverse array of skills to help them thrive in their future endeavours.
As an early educator, you play an important role in helping children get a head start on their journey towards growth and development. Your contribution to a child’s early education lays the groundwork for them to harness important behaviours and attitudes towards learning in their later years.
Here are six essential skills you need to succeed in this field:
1. Working with different children
While an educational framework's values are largely universal, the way children learn and engage with information can differ from one child to the next.
As an educator, you must be able to identify how different children learn so that you can adjust your teaching methods accordingly. The reason for this is because a child's preferred learning styles can be highly diverse. Some children learn better through visual aids, while others learn better through hands-on activities.
You may help your pupils develop confidence in their abilities by encouraging participation in activities that best accord with and use their talents.
2. Developing rapport with parents
As an early educator, you represent the school and the education system to parents. You must foster excellent rapport with them and be able to communicate effectively with them to gain their trust.
You can do this by communicating regularly with the parents, providing updates on their progress. You can also organise meetings and events so that parents can get to know you and the other educators better.
Parents are the first teachers of their children and they play an important role in instilling positive values for learning. They can also be crucial contributors to the school community at large— helping fund volunteer programs and field trips to expand the educational experience students can undertake.
Therefore, maintaining good rapport with parents is crucial to aid in raising confident and well-rounded children.
3. Knowing how to de-escalate and discipline
As an educator, you are often the first responder to behavioural issues that happen within the classroom. Many of these children are still learning how to navigate social situations, and it's not unusual for disagreements and conflicts to arise between children, whether it be through the inability to share toys or cutting in line.
It is important to have a plan of action in place before any issues arise, and you must be able to de-escalate the situation quickly and effectively.
However, it’s no secret that disciplining children can be a testing task. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has a set of recommendations that educators can employ for disciplining children of all age groups, from toddlers to adolescents. This list includes:
- Giving consequences
- Praising good behaviour
- Calling a time-out
- Setting limits
- Teaching what's right from wrong
Conversely, there are also behaviours that this list has identified as being inappropriate for disciplinary action, such as physical punishment and verbal abuse. Educators must be aware of these guidelines so that they can administer discipline effectively and safely.
4. Recognizing that a child is struggling academically
There's often a delicate balance between empowering a child's strengths and equipping them with the necessary skills to advance to the next stages of learning. Early educators must be prepared for any instances when their pupil is struggling and must know how to respond in a way that best helps them.
Early education facilities like Raising Stars are structured meticulously to uphold academic learning in children through the implementation of theories such as inquiry based learning, while simultaneously encouraging the growth of each child holistically with equity and respect.
One of the best ways to assist these children is by recognizing the signs that they are struggling academically. Some common signs include:
- Not participating in class
- Having difficulty with schoolwork
- Being disruptive
- Making careless mistakes
- Not asking for help (or asking for help too much)
As always, every child is different. So, it's up to you to know which signs indicate that a child needs more help and which ones are simply a sign of their typical behaviour.
Regardless, an educator should be able to address each student's shortcomings and help them overcome any difficulties they may be having in their academic pursuits. This way, they'll gain the confidence to do well in their next stages of learning.
5. Maintaining high standards for yourself and your students
As an educator, it is important to have high expectations not only for your students but for yourself as well. However, it's also important to find the right balance between being demanding and being accommodating.
It is easy to be hard on ourselves and our students when we are trying to meet unreasonably high standards. But by doing so, you are likely to see decreased productivity, which impedes your students' learning experience.
However, that shouldn't mean you should remain stagnant and rigid in your approaches. You should always be striving to improve yourself and the classroom environment so that learning can be a positive experience for all involved. If that means you'd have to cut back on certain approaches or take a few days off to rebalance yourself, do what you must.
For your students, this means continuously encouraging them to work hard and to always strive for excellence. But it also means recognizing the importance of play, creativity, and happiness within a learning environment so that students learn how to excel in other, non-academic aspects of their lives too.
6. Setting up the classroom for conducive learning
The classroom itself holds a large influence on how students learn. From the way the desks are arranged to the educational posters that adorn the walls, everything in a classroom sends a message about what's upheld.
Educators should therefore take the time to set up their classrooms in a way that is conducive to learning. Depending on the subject matter involved, this may mean rearranging the desks into a circle for equal participation or adding things to inspire creative expression, such as whiteboards or coloured chalks.
But most importantly, an educator's classroom should be a safe and welcoming environment. This means ensuring that there is adequate storage for personal belongings, keeping on top of any cleaning or maintenance issues, and being aware of the overall comfort levels of students.
This way, your students will be able to place their full attention on their studies with minimal distractions.