Early Childhood Educator Job Description

Early childhood educators create and implement development-based educational programs for children ranging from six weeks of age to 12 years old. Early childhood educators must address the emotional, cognitive, social, and physical needs of both individual and groups of children while effectively communicating with parents. People in this position report to principals, assistant principals, and school counselors. Because schools and daycares most commonly hire early childhood educators, people in this job work early daytime hours during weekdays and rarely work on weekends or during the summer.


Early Childhood Educator Duties and Responsibilities

Every school and daycare center has its own specific rules and regulations, but early childhood educators are expected to perform the following common duties:

Create Lesson Plans

Early childhood educators design their own lesson and classroom instruction plans based on state-approved and school-approved curriculum.

Lead Daily Activities

Early childhood educators lead daily social, learning, and physical activities for all children in their assigned classes.

Monitor Children

Early childhood educators are responsible for the overall health and welfare of the children in their classroom, which requires diligent monitoring of all children during learning times, meal times, restroom breaks, and nap times.

Encourage and Engage Children

As an early childhood educator, it is necessary to keep all children active and engaged while they are in the classroom.

Keep Classroom Clean and Stimulating

Janitorial services perform most of the heavy classroom cleaning, but the early childhood educator is ultimately responsible for keeping the classroom clean, organized, and stimulating for children.

Assess In-Class and Homework Assignments

Early childhood educators must assess all work submitted by students and provide progress reports to parents detailing their child’s success completing classroom work.

Attend Staff Meetings

Early childhood educators must attend mandatory workshops, conferences, and staff meetings as directed by school guidelines.


Early Childhood Educator Skills and Qualifications

Early childhood educators must love and work well with young children. In addition to these essential traits, schools and daycare centers who hire early childhood educators look for professionals who possess these specific qualifications:

  • Communication skills – early childhood educators must have a strong grasp of the English language and the ability to communicate effectively with both children and adults
  • Sensitivity – as an early childhood educator, professionals must be sensitive to the current needs of children and highly observant of their potential needs
  • Physical stamina – early childhood educators spend many of their working hours standing, bending, and moving, which requires good physical stamina and fitness
  • Patience – early childhood educators are patient and understanding individuals who possess good listening skills and do not display fits of temper during working hours
  • Leadership skills – early childhood educators are responsible for maintaining discipline and order in their classrooms at all times, so some leadership skills are essential for this career


Tools of the Trade

Early childhood educators routinely work with a variety of software programs and tools in order to get their jobs done, including:

  • Educational software
  • Microsoft (Outlook, Excel, Word)
  • Textbooks
  • Classroom tools (chalkboards, whiteboards, overhead projectors)
  • Art supplies (stickers, scissors, construction paper)


Early Childhood Educator Education and Training

Most institutions of learning require early childhood educators to have an associate’s degree or better in child development, early childhood education, elementary education, or special education. Many schools also require candidates to have at least one year of classroom teaching experience, either as a primary or assistant teacher. Early childhood educators must also meet all necessary city, state, and county licensing requirements, which usually include first aid and CPR training certification.

Early childhood educators are also required to have a CDA credential. The Child Development Associate credential is a national standard assessment application process which requires candidates to complete a certain number of hours of training, in addition to meeting other goals that vary depending on the age group of children being educated. Early childhood educators must pass a complete background check and in some cases may be required to pass a state educator exam.


Early Childhood Educator Salary and Outlook

The median annual salary for preschool teachers is $28,790 per year, approximately $13.84 per hour. There were 478,500 jobs available in this field in 2016, and the projected job growth through 2026 is 10 percent. That is faster than the national average, according to information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Early childhood educators typically receive a full benefits package that includes health insurance, paid vacation leave, and retirement benefits. Some schools also provide monetary reimbursement for continuing education projects. Additionally, early childhood educators receive summers off work and extended December holiday leave because school is not in session at these times.


Helpful Resources

Become a successful early childhood educator and discover career advancement opportunities with these books and websites:

National Association for the Education of Young Children – NAEYC offers publications and development programs for early childhood educators, as well as information about accreditation programs and tools for more effective classroom leadership.

Ethics and the Early Childhood Educator – This book serves as a guide for early childhood educators on the topics of communicating with parents and effectively leading children in the classroom in an ethical, responsible way.

National Childcare Association – The NCCA has many articles and resources for early childhood educators, as well as news to keep professionals up-to-date, forums to provide networking opportunities, and information about educator conferences.

Literacy for Young Children: A Guide for Early Childhood Educators – This book offers information and advice to early childhood educators to help them create oral and written lesson plans to teach children the fundamental building blocks of literacy.

Association for Early Learning Leaders – Here you can find training and education information, networking opportunities, and data about accreditation programs for all early childhood educators.


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