What does an Early Childhood Teacher (ECT) do every day? At Petit Early Learning Journey, our valued ECTs do more than play and teach young children. While they do vital work with children, often in their final year before schooling, ECTs also play an integral leadership role.
At Petit ELJ, our ECTs are allocated non contact hours every week for planning and reflection. Other centres and ECTs may do things a little differently. Every ECT also brings their unique experience, wisdom and knowledge to a role.
An Early Childhood Teacher focuses on one of the most crucial times in a child’s development and growth. As an ECT, your role will impact children of all ages and stages of development. You may also mentor and lead a team of Educators from diverse backgrounds.
To give us a better understanding of the role of an ECT, we invited Chrissy from Petit ELJ Hamilton to share her perspective of the daily life of an Early Childhood Teacher, including:
- A breakdown of her day to day experiences.
- Responsibilities outside her “typical” day.
- Why she became an Early Childhood Teacher.
- Tips for up and budding ECTs.
A day in the life of an ECT
“I start the early shift at seven o’clock,” says Chrissy. “When I arrive, I walk into the studio, and it feels like home. I reflect on which area I can work on more in terms of leading the children and what resources I will put there.”
“It takes me about five minutes to get my roll and charts ready and to ensure everything in my studio looks presentable. When the parents and children walk in, I want them to feel at ease, so I check that their hats and lockers are tidy and that the lights and air conditioning are on.”
“Then, I go out to the playground to check the weather and the surroundings to see if there’s anything I need to tidy before heading to the studio where the children are gathering as their families drop them off. ”
“Some of our children arrive as early as 6:30 am, and we provide breakfast between 7:00 am to 7:30 am. As I enter, I greet the children and say hi to the parents and my colleagues. I will check how many children we have so far for the day. ”
“It’s important to engage with the children, so both they and their parents have an easy drop-off. If families aren’t in a rush, we might catch up with them about how their child has been doing and to learn anything new that their parents may want to share.”
“I like the early shift because I can interact with the babies. I don’t get to see them much. But my most enjoyable moment is when I have a good learning time and interesting conversations with the children. When we encourage children to engage with learning, they voice their opinions.”
“We begin closing breakfast and cleaning up the studio around 7:30 am. Some children will help us clean up. We’re always encouraging them to help us tidy as it supports their self-help skills.”
ECTs give children choices to engage in learning
“Around 8:00 am, we separate the children into their studio groups to begin our first indoor and outdoor playtime. A small group of children may stay indoors with me. We have an open door during this time, so the youngest children are welcome into the studio.”
“As an Early Childhood Teacher, I set up many invitations to play, giving children choices on what they can do. At 8:30 am, I use a bell to let my kindergarten children know that it’s time to come inside for book time.”
“We have several transitions throughout the day as part of our curriculum. When the children move from outdoor to indoor, we check that they all have their hats, shoes and bottles.”
“After putting their belongings away, they sit on the mat for book time, which centres on storytime. We also discuss our topic of the week or day, their interests, any projects and things like number and letter recognition.”
“I like to read two books. Once they’re settled, we might play some games to identify numbers or include some physical literacy. Part of our transitioning incorporates whole-body movements within the studio, like pretending to be animals.”
“If children are very energetic when they come into the studio for book time, we may do some meditation or yoga stretches. I may also share a story or conversation to help calm them down and restore our energy for the rest of the day.”
“After that, we transition again, and the children have the option to choose to continue their play or take a trip to the bathroom to wash their hands for progressive morning tea time.”
“With progressive morning tea, children have the option to choose when they want to have morning tea. They may wash their hands, get a drink bottle and go sit with their friends in the designated area for morning tea or continue to play.”
Preparing the studio for focused learning
“Around this time, I prepare the studio for focused learning. Some children will help me to put resources on the tables or in a specific area.”
“Depending on the educational plan, I engage the children in art, child-centred play, or clay play while some children still partake in the progressive tea time. So this focused learning with playtime continues until just before lunchtime.”
“By giving children a choice, it gives us the time and space to focus on a small group of children. The studio is the best place for that, but if the children are feeling energetic and they want to go run and climb, then they can still do outdoor play.”
Every day is different for an Early Childhood Teacher
“Every day is different. It depends on many factors. If it’s a rainy day, we are fortunate to have an area which is quite long and big enough for all the children to play. There’s enough space in this area for children to move around and engage in building, constructing and drawing.”
“Just before lunchtime, the children transition again, packing up what they’re doing, go to the bathroom and wash their hands. We promote the importance of lunchtime while still giving children options like engaging in their play a little longer.”
“We also incorporate our physical literacy program for kindergarten and pre-kindergarten children into the day. Once a fortnight on Thursday’s, we have a specialist who comes after lunch to engage the children in outdoor fitness.”
“Rest time occurs between 12:00 pm to 2:00 pm. Our kindergarten children are not required to nap, but we still have some that like to rest. If children choose to nap, we take them to the toddlers’ room where it is quiet.”
Working towards school readiness
“Just before 2:00 pm, the children who have been sleeping pack up their beds and between 1:45 pm and 2:00 pm, the children who are awake help to tidy up the studio. I ask them if it’s tidy or dirty and what should we do about it?”
“Involving the children in tidying up allows them to make a judgement of how their surroundings look and if it’s messy to take the initiative to look after it. Then they pack up their lockers, making sure they have their hats and shoes and whether their water bottles need topping up.”
“This routine encourages them to grow their independence and look after their belongings. It is one of the ways we help children to work towards school readiness. Once their lockers are tidy and everything is in their bag, we’ll stay together for 5 to 10 minutes for another storytime.”
“Afterwards, they can do outdoor play again. Some children will stay inside with me to prepare the room for the next indoor and outdoor program. Around 3:00 pm, we begin a progressive afternoon tea time which continues until about 4:15 pm.”
“I have usually finished work for the day by then, but my assistant continues to be there with the children until their families begin to collect them around about 4:30 pm.”
Additional duties of an ECT: Educational programming and planning
“Each month, I work on programming and planning for the next month. Planning involves looking into community events that will enrich our educational program. Another way we determine our program is to observe children’s interests and their level of development.”
“Recently, the children were exploring motion and force, rolling things around and throwing things under the monkey bar. That sparked a STEM project in exploring motion and force with wooden blocks and ramps, and we used these activities to expand their interests.”
“The children also showed an interest in insects. We used the smartboard to research insects together. Another child-led interest focused on the occupations of people in our community. So, we reached out to our community, and a fireman came in to visit.”
“Planning is also based on the families’ input. The interesting conversations I have with parents gives us many ideas and options and it provides children with flexibility in their learning.”
“I usually do programming on Fridays. It’s a quiet day for me, and I work from a dedicated programming room upstairs. Every Early Childhood Teacher at Petit ELJ gets four to five hours of dedicated programming time.”
“During this time, I write up observations. I also do planning, stories on Storypark, organise events and work on children’s portfolios.”
“Between Monday to Thursday, there is less time for programming. When I walk into my studio at the start of my day, I get my pen and notepad ready. I ask all the Educators, ‘Do you have your pen? You need to have a pen.’ If I see anything interesting, I can write it down for later.”
Why choose a career in early childhood teaching?
“When I was younger, I didn’t plan to be a teacher. Some years ago, before becoming a student, I went back home and to the library where I came across this book about human development. It explored how humans learn and how it affects them psychologically, mentally and physically.”
“It just opened my eyes, and in that moment of truth when I came across this book, I was intrigued. I wanted to learn more about how humans and young children develop. And it was that moment that led me into early childhood education. A book can change a person’s path.”
Tips for Early Childhood Teachers
“You have to have patience, be nurturing, caring and have a growth mindset. You have to be open to continuous learning. As a person, you must keep growing, reading, learning, sharing and developing yourself as a human being.”
“As an Early Childhood Teacher, you will mentor other Educators, so you need to be kind and understanding. For me, I try to look at things from other people’s perspective and discover how they see and feel things.”
“When you arrive at work, you have to leave your personal issues at home because the children can sense and see how we feel. When I walk in, I put on my teacher’s hat.”
“As soon as I get home and that teacher’s hat is off, I think, the children are happy, safe, and learning and the parents are happy. It has been a good day.”
Become an Early Childhood Teacher with Petit Early Learning Journey
At Petit ELJ, we hire passionate Early Childhood Teachers with teaching and childcare philosophies that align with our own. We look for individuals who believe every child is capable, resourceful and a constructor of their knowledge.
Are you interested in joining our team as an Early Childhood Teacher? If you have the right qualifications, align with our values and beliefs, and a natural passion for caring for children, as well as a love for life-long learning, then we want to hear from you!