Early Childhood Educators: The Many Hats We Wear

We are everything to your child when you are gone.

What do you see when you drop your child off at day care with their teacher? Do you see a competent professional or is he/she just a glorified babysitter to watch your child/children for the day? Contrary to what people think, taking care of children is a hard job. Especially when you have sixteen plus at a time. We have to wear many different hats in a day. These hats can include psychologist, friend (to a point), waitress, janitor, moderator, comforter, mind reader, nurse and of course teacher, to name a few. Although we do have degrees, our pay is very little and the appreciation sometimes feels like zilch. Here is how all these hats fit into a regular day.

Psychologist- There are many times during a day we have to figure out what a child is thinking or feeling. Either they are too little to communicate, they are acting out and we have to figure out why, or they just won’t tell us. Sometimes they are upset and they can’t tell us right away until they have calmed down.

Friend (To A Point)- We want your child to view us as both their teacher and their friend, to a point. We want them to feel like they can come and tell us anything, as they would a trusted friend. But we don’t want them to think we will be so permissive with them that they don’t have to follow the rules.

Waitress- Three times a day we play the role of waitress-breakfast, lunch and snack. And most of the time we feel like we make a waitress’s wages.

Janitor- Several times a day we play the role of janitor. Usually after each meal and then again in the afternoon/evening as we clean our rooms for the next day. We also all pitch in and keep our center clean.

Moderator- When an argument breaks out, we moderate, listen to both sides and find a solution.

Comforter- Tears will fall. We must shift into Mom mode in various situations weather it be an injury, hurt feelings, a disagreement or simply just missing Mom or Dad.

Mind Reader (At Times)- This is especially true for younger children who may not be able to communicate. Studying facial expressions give us a clue as to what is needed. We also consult daily sheets for sleep and feeding schedules. Also, as every Mom knows, the sniff test is always an immediate indicator of what’s wrong.

Nurse- Split lips, scrapes, and boo-boos come with the territory from time to time. Ice packs, band aides and good old TLC are sometimes needed in these times of bumps and bruises. Other times decisions regarding sickness are more focused. Making the sole decision (other than emergencies and sickness policies) weather to send your child home lies directly on us.

Teacher- Finally, the main reason we are here. To teach your child and prepare them for what lies ahead.

As you can see, we do a lot in a day. We are everything to your child when you are gone. Our job is very mentally and emotionally taxing. So the next time you see us and we look exhausted, keep in mind that we are so much more than (to some) glorified babysitters. Although we are not in the public school system, we too deserve to be respected.