Early childhood education plays an important role in educational, physical and social development of a child. There is no question that the education given to a child in its early years of development has significant contribution to the future intellectual development of the child.
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The relationships, educational experience and nutrition during the first eight early of a child have high contribution to the child mental and social growth. Therefore, a good early childhood education helps a child to develop in a healthy manner while poor program can have long-term negative effects on a child’s development. Effective early childhood educators are the backbone to successful early childhood education.
Success of an early childhood education program is highly depended on the competence of early childhood educators. An early childhood educator does not just teach but helps the children to develop in various aspects of their lives (Early, et al., 2007). Above introducing children to education, early childhood educators have to take care of physical, nutritional and social developmental needs of the children.
On top of introducing the children to reading, writing and simple computation, early childhood educators have to teach hygiene, safety and other important things that a child needs in its development. Importantly, early childhood educators act as parents to the children and have to respond to the children’s emotional needs. In this paper, I will explore the qualities that make an early childhood educator to be effective.
Early childhood educator is an occupation like no other. Early childhood educators must be able to deal with children and respond to their multiple needs. They have the responsibility of laying a foundation to future lives of their students and above all, act as parents to the children.
The educators give instructional assistance in the most important part of the children’s education. It is during the early years of development that a child acquires vital social skill and learns to interact with other people. In addition to helping children develop in their social aspects, early childhood educators play significant role in shaping a child’s attitude towards school (Early, et al., 2007).
To be effective, therefore, an early childhood educator must have a passion to teach young children. Without having the passion, an early childhood educator cannot withstand the many demands from young children and their parents. The main motivation for early childhood educators should be the children themselves. Early childhood educators must enjoy spending most of their time with young children and participating in their activities such as plays.
Children require a supportive environment for them to develop effectively (Vialle, Lysaght & Verenikina, 2008). Effective early childhood educators must be able to anticipate and provide the necessary emotional and educational support to their students.
They must be able to create a safe learning environment that invites and supports the children in their educational, social and physical development. To carry out their responsibilities effectively, early childhood educators need to have the necessary organizational, interpersonal and professional skills (Hollowell, 2009).
A safe and inviting classroom environment is vital to success of an early childhood education program. A good learning environment can help children to develop easily and make the work of an early childhood educator much easier. Therefore, early childhood educators need to be organized in order to create the suitable learning environment for their students.
They must be able to organize their classrooms in a manner that supports learning and captures their student’s attention (Hollowell, 2009). Considering that young children are easily distracted, early childhood educators must do everything possible to minimize distractions. For instance, an early childhood educator should ensure that all materials that she requires are within her reach in order to avoid distracting her students.
An organized early childhood educator is effective in her duties. Children in an early childhood program rely on their teachers for almost everything. The early childhood educator has to not only teach but also accompany and monitor children during their plays, assist children in toileting, cater for their nutritional needs, address special needs of some students, handle parents and carry out other activities.
Without being organized, an early childhood educator cannot be able to carry out all her duties effectively. In classrooms, effective early childhood educators ensure that their students can access their materials easily.
Papers, pencils, charts, paper towels and other necessary materials are placed in a manner that they can be reached easily (Hollowell, 2009). In addition to creating organized classroom settings, early childhood educators must be able to establish effective routine for their students. The students must be able to know what to do at what time and sail smoothly through their school day. Organized classroom setting and routine help children to be comfortable and less anxious.
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Effective early childhood educators must be able to communicate successfully with children and their parents. Interpersonal and cognitive capabilities of children in early childhood program are at their initial stage (Koza & Smith, 2007). Early childhood educators therefore must have the capability of understanding their student without relying on words alone.
They should be able to tell when a child is anxious, worried, uncomfortable or happy. Apart from being able to understand their students, effective early childhood educators must be able communicate to their students in an understandable manners. In classrooms, early childhood educators require good communicating skills to teach. To be effective, they must be able to frame their messages in a manner that make them easy for the students to understand.
Effective early childhood educators should be able to use various instruction materials to communicate their message to their students and help them grow (Hollowell, 2009). Considering that early childhood education contributes highly to social development of a child, as a role model, an early childhood educator should demonstrate good social and interpersonal skills.
Early childhood educators must be able to deal with parents and guardians to their students. Parents and guardians are very much concerned about the progress of their children in an education program.
Effective early childhood educators must therefore be able to maintain continuous communication with parents and guardians and update them on the progress of their children (Early, et al., 2007). They should also be able to engage parents and guardians in their program by inviting them to give suggestions and participate in educational development of their children.
Early childhood educators do not work in isolation. They have to interact with co-workers, supervisor and special needs officers. Effective early childhood educators should use their interpersonal skills to relate well with other people. For instance, an early childhood educator may have problems in getting administrator to appreciate their work. To demonstrate the value of early childhood education, effective early childhood educator can invite the administrator to her class and display her students’ work.
Early childhood educators must have the necessary professional skills for them to be effective. Above the necessary professional qualifications, effective early childhood educators seek information in order to improve their skills.
To be updated on latest and better techniques and instructional methods, effective early childhood educators follow up latest research in early childhood education (Grieshaber & Cannella, 2001). To meet developmental needs of the students effectively, early effective early childhood educators must make effort to educate themselves by reviewing latest research and reading periodicals on early childhood education.
Effective early childhood educators are able to integrate education and care in their programs (Vialle, Lysaght & Verenikina, 2008). Integrating education and care is very important to the success of an early childhood program.
An effective early childhood educator should therefore be able to find the right balance between play and conscious learning, stimulation and boredom, discipline and compromise, routine and free time, physical education/life skills, and general knowledge (Maths, English, Science, Etc.), and lastly independence and teamwork (Vialle, Lysaght & Verenikina, 2008).
Considering that children will make mistakes or misbehave, effective early childhood educators must not shy away from correcting their students. To an effective early childhood educator, mistakes are considered as opportunities and she uses the mistakes to achieve the desired learning and developmental goals.
When a child misbehaves, an effective early childhood educator uses the opportunity to facilitate emotional regulation and growth towards appropriate social behaviour. In order to fashion a comfortable environment for learning and expression an effective early childhood educator ensures a strong bond between her and her students.
The bond between early childhood educators and their students is the most important factors of achieving a nurturing learning centre. To ensure that the bond remains, an effective early childhood educator always dedicates a section at the beginning of the day for personal interaction (Vialle, Lysaght & Verenikina, 2008).
It is a fact that children learn best through play. In fact, play is considered the language that children understand best (Koza & Smith, 2007). Therefore, effective early childhood educators should be able to engage their students in plays. They should be able to use plays to help their students to achieve social and educational development. Effective early childhood educators know how to integrate plays in their programs and are able to achieve much.
Effective early childhood educators are flexible. The secret of teaching children is to make learning as interesting as possible (Koza & Smith, 2007). Effective early childhood educators therefore vary their lesson plans to respond to learning requirements and styles of their students. Because of their passion to teach and ability to be flexible, effective early childhood educators are able to make school to be enjoyable to all their students.
Discipline is a necessity for success of any educational program. To be successful, early childhood educators must be able to a strike a balance between being gentle and firm disciplinarian (Grieshaber & Cannella, 2001). Effective early childhood educators strive to ensure that high discipline prevails in their classrooms. However, effective early childhood educators discipline their student gently and lovingly. They are able to maintain self-control at all time and hold no grudge with any child.
The identity and image that a child develops during its early years last for long. A child experience in an early childhood centre can therefore contribute to its self image and identity (Edwards, Blaise & Hammer, 2009). An effective early childhood educator is therefore responsible enough to care for self image of their students.
She makes every effort and takes the necessary interventions to ensure that their students develop positive self image. In classroom, an effective early childhood educator tries to ensure that a sense of fairness prevails. She gives all student opportunity to participate and ensure none of the children feels neglected or ignored. As responsible teachers, effective early childhood educators should be able to note any change in behaviour of their students and make the necessary intervention.
Understanding developmental needs of a child is vital for success of an early childhood educator (Vialle, Lysaght & Verenikina, 2008). Effective early childhood educators therefore should have a high understanding of the needs of their students.
They should understand the best way to respond to social, educational, emotional, psychological and nutritional needs of their students. With understanding child development, effective early childhood educators are able to create a learning environment that suites all their students irrespective of their culture, age and social abilities (Edwards, Blaise & Hammer, 2009).
A good learning environment helps in motivating students and boosts their self esteem (Hollowell, 2009). Studies have shown that treating children at a low expectancy level of achievement undermines the child and have a negative effect on progression. Hence, an effective early childhood educator understands that building confidence and self esteem of her students is one of her responsibilities.
High level of energy, a sense of humour, and patience are necessary qualities of an effective early childhood educator. Early childhood educator is centre of attention to all her students. She has to respond to many demands from her students. To be effective, early childhood educator has to have high energy and spirit throughout her school day.
She has to demonstrate enthusiasm to her students and encourage them through various learning activities. Apart from enthusiasm, an effective early childhood educator requires a sense of humour. Above all qualities, an effective early childhood educator must be patient with her students and their parents.
It is fundamentally important as an Australian early childhood educator to be familiar with the ‘Australian Context Curriculum’ for early childhood education. As the environment and culture of the world is forever evolving so must the curriculum, therefore, teachers and educators must have access to and regularly check any updates towards the curriculum.
For instance, in March 2010, the Australian curriculum was updated, the focus was of less quantity and more of quality, this is to sync the information being taught to children have a more coherent body of knowledge.
Successful early childhood education is not possible without effective early childhood educators. Early childhood educators play significant role to social and emotional development of their students and put down foundation to their education. To succeed at their roles, early childhood educators need to have the necessary organizational, interpersonal and professional skills. They must be able to organize the necessary learning environment and be organized in all their activities.
Appropriate interpersonal skills help effective early childhood educators to communicate effectively with their students, their parents and guardians, co-workers, and other individuals. Passion for teaching children however is the most important quality of effective early childhood educators. An early childhood educator that enjoys her work is able to withstand many challenges that come along her way and be a motivation to her students.
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Vialle, W., Lysaght, P. & Verenikina, I. (2008). Handbook on child development. South Melbourne: Cengage Learning.