Have you ever wondered what you would do each day when working as a Childcare Educator? Is it all painting, games and playing? How much time is spent teaching children? Will the nappy changes be too much? Read on for our example in the day of the life of a childcare educator.
7:00 am Start work and set up your room
To set up your room, you will get out some activities (like puzzles) and position them in a way that encourages the children to play together and to develop their social skills in a friendly environment. You'll run through your attendance list for the day to check which children will be in your care and taking note if any of these children have any special requirements.
7:30 am – 8:30 am Greet families and have fun!
Families will drop off their children, and some parents or carers will need to discuss things that happened with their children last night or this morning; if a child didn't get enough sleep, is teething, or not eating much you'll want to know so that you can help them through a day that might be tougher on them than usual. During this time, you'll also be busy assisting children to settle into childcare for the day. When the children arrive, some will go ahead and play with what you've already set up, or start a new game themselves. Some children will get upset upon drop off, and you'll need to help them to relax, have fun and join in with the other children.
8:30 am – 9:00 am Singing and dancing
Most children will have arrived, so on to the next thing! A change of scenery is order, so you move outside and play some group games. Creating a welcoming, happy, and relaxed atmosphere can help you to set up for a successful day for everyone. You might sing some songs and teach children some dancing actions. All of the games and activities you create will be to help with more than just entertainment; you'll be helping with their cognitive development, motor skills, social skills and learning independence.
9:00 am Morning Tea
While you've been with the children, your room leader will have unpacked the lunches – or if you work in a centre where food is provided, they will be dropped off and ready for the children to eat. You'll help the children to wash their hands to learn about good hygiene before they start their food. While the children are eating morning tea, you might be helping them to learn how to use their cutlery, teaching them fun facts about their food, and cleaning up the food that gets dropped on the floor.
9:15 am – 10:00 am Educational play
Morning tea is over; it's time for some educational play to help the children learn about colour and counting. During this time, you may be cleaning up morning tea and changing nappies. You'll need to change nappies every few hours, so you'll usually change them all once in the morning, before or after sleep time and again in the afternoon – although dirty nappies are changed immediately or as soon as possible. Once the nappies are all nice and fresh you'll set up the next activity.
10:00 am – 10:30 am Creative Activity
Father's day, Easter or Christmas may be coming up so you've set up an activity station in the yard when the children will decorate photo frames with glue, leaves, wood chips and confetti. You'll help the children develop fine motor skills during this activity as they pick up small things and glue them onto a small, defined surface. Some children may get bored quickly and move on, so you'll have a painting station set up for their next activity – ready to go! You will need help and encourage the children while working on their creative masterpieces.
10:30 – 11:30 am Time to get worn out!
This hour of power is all about getting the children to use up a lot of energy to get ready for their upcoming nap. Creating an outdoor obstacle course is a great way to improve motor skills, encourage socialisation and burn energy. You'll need to keep an eye on how educators spend their hour of power to help you to keep up with the new trends and give you ideas on activities to run.
11:30 – 11:45 am Lunchtime
It's Lunchtime, and your duties will be about the same as they were at morning tea time. For childcare centres where families provide the lunch, you may need to heat some lunches, making sure you follow the centre's health and hygiene procedures. After a busy morning, you'll be encouraging children to drink their water and enjoy a relaxing lunch.
11:45 – 12:00 pm Pre-nap Organisation
It's nap time, between you and your room leader you'll be getting the beds ready, post-lunch hands washed, and nappies changed to have all children in bed by 12:00 pm. Once nap time is underway, staff lunch breaks will commence. Due to government legislation, you'll have another educator come in to relieve lunch breaks because even though the children are sleeping, educator to child ratios still apply.
2:00 pm Outside Fun Time
The children start waking up, and you'll be getting sunscreen and hats on ready to go and play in the big yard until pick up. You might crank up the music for dancing while some children will be on the swings, slides or playing with the kitchen and dolls in the cubby house. You might set up a game or draw up a game of hopscotch, or start a game of tag. No doubt there will be a fall or another small injury, and you might be required to write up an incident report for the children's parents.
3:00 – 3:15 pm Afternoon Tea
Afternoon tea time will be the same as what you did at morning tea. Perhaps you and your room leader will trade roles between morning tea and afternoon tea to give you more opportunities to learn and keep variety in your day.
3:15 – 6:00 pm Pick Up
During this Time families will start arriving to pick up their children. Just like the morning drop off, families will want to chat to you or the room leader about how their child was that day and may wish to discuss things that are happening at home or their plans for the rest of the week. During this time, you'll also be supervising, playing with, and looking after the children who haven't been picked up yet.