The term "childcare worker" encompasses various professions; childcare workers care for preschool or school-aged children, and can work as babysitters, employees of home day care providers or childcare centres, or as preschool teachers. Regardless of their employment setting, childcare workers are responsible for providing a nurturing environment, as well as recreational outlets and educational enrichment, for the children under their care.
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State regulatory boards and employers have varying education requirements for childcare workers, depending on the employee's job title and range of responsibilities. While babysitters and day care workers may not need any formal education, preschool teachers are typically required to have completed some postsecondary school coursework in early childhood education or child development. All childcare workers responsible for small children should have some basic training in CPR, first aid, emergency procedures and nutrition.
All childcare workers must have some experience supervising, teaching and nurturing small children. For babysitters and home day care workers, these requirements may be met through parenting or care of younger siblings; preschool teachers can gain experience through participating in an internship or student teaching opportunity arranged through their college or university.
Childcare workers must be able to communicate with children in a manner that makes children feel comfortable, respected and cared for; this can be facilitated by asking children questions about themselves, their lives, their families, preferences and favourite things. Childcare workers should make kids feel valued and listened to when they speak. Small children have a tendency to test the boundaries of authority figures; qualified childcare workers will be patient enough to deal kindly with these occurrences, but also firm enough to perform non-threatening disciplinary actions to ensure rebellious behaviour happens infrequently. Childcare workers are required to be nurturing, and should instil self-esteem in children with positive reinforcement. Childcare workers should also foster a love of learning, fun and creativity, as well as help kids become independent through feeding and dressing themselves, going to the bathroom and washing their own hands.
Childcare workers must meet certain physical requirements, including possessing the energy required to play with and supervise small children. Childcare workers should have considerable upper body strength as well as full range of motion in their arms, hands, legs and feet; the job may entail lifting or chasing children, cleaning, picking up toys and other equipment, changing diapers, preparing and feeding meals, helping kids get dressed and assisting them with using the bathroom.
Licensing/ Background Check
Although not typically required of babysitters, most states require day care and preschool facilities and workers to obtain some sort of licensing or provide proof that education, training and safety standards have been met. Most babysitters, day care workers and preschool teachers are also required to submit to a formal or informal background check. Regional requirements vary; childcare workers should check within their state for details.
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