Patience, understanding, communication, enthusiasm – ingredients for working in ECEC
As Australian job seekers contemplate a career change while the Big Roles in Little Lives campaign gains momentum, early childhood education and care (ECEC) service director, Stephanie Wylie, has spoken out about the “magic ingredients” required to have a successful career in the sector, listing patience, understanding, communication and enthusiasm as being core traits for a lasting career.
According to the government’s Job Outlook website, there is very strong growth expected in the ECEC sector. From 2014-2019, the sector grew from 129,300 workers to 152,200, an increase of 17 per cent in just five years. Growth is predicted to continue, with an expected 182,300 people needed to fill jobs by 2024.
Ms Wylie, who works at a service on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, has been working in ECEC for seven years, and is currently employed at a service which caters to children from six months of age through to six years, and began working in the sector after finishing high school.
Once she completed her Certificate III via traineeship, Ms Wylie moved on to being an assistant educator, before deciding to undertake a bachelor degree.
When asked what advice she might have for someone starting out in ECEC, Ms Wylie encouraged prospective employees to “go and visit your local services. Speak to some educators that are qualified and work day-to-day with children and families. Have a look at some courses that you’d like to do and see what’s best fit for you and your personality.”
Skills and attributes
“When recruiting educators, the skills that I’m looking for are a willingness to learn, a passion for early childhood, and the ability to be a strong communicator, as we continually work as part of a team,” Ms Wylie advised.
As well as the skills listed above, four core attributes that employers often look for in job applicants in the ECEC sector are:
Children can sometimes be challenging to work with, and you need to make sure you remain calm around them at all times – no matter how hard they push your buttons, Ms Wylie said.
It’s important for educators to take into account children’s backgrounds, families, personal circumstances and general personalities at all times. Being able to connect will support educators to be better positioned to work with the children in their care and ensure they’re getting the best support possible.
Dealing with children and families can be challenging. With children, their verbal skills are still developing, and at times, they may be hard to understand. Families can have differing communication styles, or may be from non English speaking backgrounds. While there are skills and techniques which educators can use to improve communication, a desire to understand and to be understood is the first step.
Children are very quick to pick up on moods, and as such, being positive and enthusiastic is a core component of being a successful educator. In ECEC, Ms Wylie notes, a positive and passionate worker can get children excited about learning and can help transform their lives.
A day in the life
Within her management role, a typical day for Ms Wylie involves ensuring that the running of the ECEC service is smooth, and supports the needs of children, families and educators.
In this space, she understands that the needs of the staff team “are just as important as the wellbeing of the children.
“When staff have access to the right kinds of support,” she said, “it means children, and their families, are getting the best possible service.”
Rostering, conflict resolution, inventory management, health and safety oversight and compliance are all important aspects of her role.
To read Chloe’s story, or to learn more about studying an ECEC qualification with Open Colleges, please see here.
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