We spoke with dozens of aspiring, current and retired educators and asked them just that. Here’s what they had to say:
- A passion for teaching young children. It’s more than just caring for and playing with them. Teachers want to give these children the emotional, social and cognitive skills to succeed.
- Compassion to build trust and a safe place for children and families. Head Start families are often dealing with many stressors, including financial challenges, while trying to raise a family. Teachers need to meet and help parents and children where they’re at.
- Good people skills. The job is more than just working with young children. Teachers also have to work well with their peers, administrators, and most importantly, parents.
- Ability to make learning a positive experience. Early childhood education should instill the know how and love of learning in little learners.
- Consistency. Children need routine and repetition to learn, as well as teachers’ consistency to build trust, familiarity and an understanding of the rules and how to behave.
“This [profession] can influence, affect and complement the lives of young children. It involves hands-on molding of the future. It’s not right for everyone. You have to have the heart for it. It has to be embedded in your heart that you want to touch the lives of children – to make life better for them.” – [advice to potential early educators from a current one]