In the past 13 years I have watch the field of Early Childhood Development change dramatically. Long gone are the days of “glorified babysitting” and there is much more understanding, especially by parents, of the hard work and dedication that goes into every carefully planned day. However, there are still a few things I wish every parent knew about the remarkable people who choose this profession.
- Please don’t call us “daycare providers”. The truth of it is, we work relentless hours planning to care for children – not days. We are child advocates who insist on child first language, even when it comes to our job descriptions. Although there may be no ill intent meant, referring to us as the “daycare provider” is like calling us a dirty word.
We plan free play – on purpose. Contrary to popular belief, free play is not just what happens when we didn’t get our lesson plan completed. We intentionally plan open ended – child lead play because we understand the immense educational value it provides our students. And often, this is when our most meaningful work occurs. Sharing, empathy, negotiation, independence, cause and effect, leadership, self-help and so many other skills are learned best during play that is mediated by the teacher.
We don’t have all the answers. Have you ever been at a complete loss because you feel like you have tried everything with your child and nothing is working. Spoiler alert: some days we feel that way too. Most teachers have 16 (or more) students they must understand and meet the needs of, and double the number of parents! I’m not saying we can’t help you in times of defeat. However, when we are in the trenches of trial and error and haven’t quite found the answer to best support your child, a little bit of grace and patience goes a long way. We promise to do the same with you. We are experts at finding answers and do not stop until we do.
Our greatest reward is watching your child succeed. We know intimately your child’s weaknesses as well as we know their strengths. There is nothing that gives us greater joy than watching your child write their name for the first time, share a toy with a friend, demonstrate empathy or follow a 2 step direction. This is the fuel that keeps us going. One of the best gifts we can receive is listening to you share the victories you see with us.
The bottom line is this “job” is our calling. We know deep in our bones teaching children and molding the future is what we were put on this earth to do. We are NOT simply in it for the money. Most of us have to worked jobs where we made more and worked less. We understand the immense responsibility and privilege of this calling and wouldn’t trade it for the world.