So much more than child care - working in ECEC offers an opportunity to find daily joy
The Sector > Jobs News > So much more than child care – working in ECEC offers an opportunity to find daily joy

So much more than child care – working in ECEC offers an opportunity to find daily joy

by Freya Lucas

November 10, 2022

Despite the current challenges being faced by the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector, a recent survey of more than 700 educators found that as a profession, educators and teachers are feeling positive about their work.


Of the educators surveyed by Early Childhood Australia, 83 per cent of educators regularly feel ‘happy’ and many say they are ‘joyful’ or ‘hopeful’, indicating that they find working with young children to be satisfying and rewarding. 


This concept, of finding joy in the work done with and for young children and families, was also the focus of a study by Sydney researchers Cathy Little and Olivia Karaolis, who found that the work of those in the ECEC sector was punctuated with joyful moments, sustaining educators and teachers during challenging times, giving their work value and meaning, and giving them a sense that their profession has “inestimable professional and personal value”. 


What brings educators the most joy? 


In reviewing the contemporary research, The Sector has compiled a list of the top five moments in the typical ECEC professional’s day which bring them the most joy. 


  • Making a strong connection: many educators spoke about connection as being a source of enormous joy, be it connecting with children and families, or fostering deeper connections with their colleagues through their daily work, or through bigger moments, such as going through Assesment and Rating together, overcoming adversity, or celebrating milestones in one another’s lives. 


  • Being in the moment: educators also talked about the unique opportunities they have when working with children to stop, slow down, and truly engage with the world through the eyes of a child. Watching children make discoveries and connections, especially for the first time, was seen by educators as a special and unique aspect of working in the early years. 


  • Working in partnership: for many ECEC professionals, joy was found when they recognised the privileged position they held as part of the formative “team” in the life of a child, as trusted and caring adults who were on a journey in connection with families and other allied health professionals to set children up for success. 


  • Making a difference: educators spoke about their own early childhood experiences in the research, with some being motivated to provide children with the support they needed but didn’t receive, while others spoke about their own positive experiences, wanting to replicate them for the children in their care. On both sides of the fence, however, was the desire to make a difference in the life of a child. 


  • Self discovery: finally, educators spoke about the way that working with children encourages them to reflect, to think more deeply, and to consider new perspectives or ways of viewing the world. 


Educator Margaret summed it up like this: 


“A four-year-old recently asked me about what my favourite colour was, and why. I couldn’t answer the why… I just knew it was blue. But he could tell me exactly why he liked green.


“It got me thinking, and I told him ‘I guess, it’s because I love the ocean’. He replied, ‘Well, the sea is clear. It only looks blue when the sky is blue because it’s a reflection.’ He was a very smart child.”


For all the challenges facing the ECEC sector at the moment, there are profound reasons to choose a path which embraces daily opportunities for joy, connection and the transformation of lives. 

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