A early childhood educator plays with young children indoors.

7 wonderful things ECEs can do for our children

As a mom working outside the home, I was always confident that my kids were in the hands of safe and nurturing early childhood educators who had thorough expertise and sound knowledge of child development. It was beyond comforting and encouraging knowing that my children were happy and thriving when I couldn’t be with them.

Early childhood educators (ECEs) are incredibly valuable in supporting and guiding the educational, social, behavioural, and emotional development of children in their early years. Through their work, they provide a strong foundation for kids’ future learning and functioning. Here’s how.

1. Recognize the importance of active play

ECEs understand the ways in which active play positively impacts the physical, social, cognitive, and emotional development and well-being of kids. Offering stimulating environments and equipment inspires kids to explore new movements. ECEs also provide the opportunity for guided but especially, and more importantly, undirected and unstructured play with lengthy play time both inside and out.

2. Work on skill development

Using a myriad of engaging resources, ECEs work with kids on their numeracy and literacy skills, which will be valuable building blocks as they move into more formal learning. As professional educators, ECEs continuously upgrade their own strategies and frequently add additional resources to ensure every child’s stage of knowledge and unique learning style are addressed in the best possible manner.

3. Nurture a sense of belonging and confidence

Every child wants to feel valued, seen, and part of a community. Aware of this important emotional need, ECEs greet and communicate with each child warmly, make them feel welcome, learn about their interests, and provide kids with opportunities that allow them to develop their talents. These actions, along with offering children the chance to talk about their families and make decisions (however small) in daily scheduling, all contribute to a child’s sense of belonging, confidence, self-worth, and value.

An early childhood educator plays with a young girl indoors as two children climb on a play structure nearby.

4. Guide and encourage positive social interactions between children

When kids begin to move from parallel play to interactive play around the age of three, they learn to take turns, collaborate, negotiate, share, and problem-solve. ECEs promote such activity using a number of techniques.

To encourage positive interaction, ECEs recognize that kids have unique temperaments and work to assist kids develop self-regulation by having them recognize and control their emotions. 

ECEs provide toys and games that involve interaction and they model social play by joining in with kids and eventually slowly moving away from their interactions to allow kids to develop their own skills. ECEs also recognize when kids are continuing to play on their own and use techniques to bring them into peer interaction.

5. Help children develop curiosity

ECEs help children develop curiosity, which leads to kids wanting to learn more and thinking outside the box. Observing the interests of kids, ECEs pose the five Ws (who, what, when, where, and why) and the one H (how) to encourage kids to broaden their curiosity. They provide them with interesting toys, books, and situations to inspire kids to want to know more about everything and allow kids to feel open to asking their own questions.

6. Help kids learn the concepts of routines

Structure and routine provide children with a sense of security and stability, the knowledge of what comes next, and the impetus to be a part of the activity (as, for example, the knowledge that snack time is approaching and that in the daily routine, toys must be put away first).

7. Understand the importance of clear and frequent communication and collaboration with families

Building a strong and trusting partnership with the families of the children in their care, ECEs take the time to communicate on an ongoing basis. They inform families about the style and methods of learning that they use, they provide examples of kids’ day-to-day experiences, and they keep them up to date with activities, lesson plans, and behavioural issues both positive and challenging that they witness in the families’ children.

ECEs also listen to and collect information from families in order to support children in the most effective manner. When families and ECEs collaborate, kids sense the community-building and feel safe that both parties are in their corner.

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