What Skills Do You Need to Work in Childcare? | Careforkids.com.au

Published on Monday, 26 September 2022
Last updated on Monday, 26 September 2022

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What Skills Do You Need to Work in Childcare?

Are you looking to pursue a career in childcare? In order to excel in the field of childcare, not only do you need a passion for teaching and working with children and hold relevant qualifications and training, but you should also possess the key qualities needed for childcare. 

Whether you pursue a career as an early childhood teacher, establish your own family daycare or work for a family as an au pair, there’s a common set of skills that are required to be successful when working with children.

What do childcare workers do?

Before we get into the skills that are relevant when working in childcare, it’s important to first understand what a childcare worker does. 

Childcare workers provide education, care and supervision for children. Childcare workers can work across a range of different childcare environments including childcare or long daycare centres, family daycare settings, preschool or kindergartens and in-home care.

As a childcare worker, you’re often tasked with a range of different duties, including:

  • Supervising children across their educational and recreational routines,

  • Maintaining children’s hygiene regimes,

  • Preparing materials and equipment for children's educational lessons and recreational activities,

  • Managing children's behaviour and supporting children's social development,

  • Planning and coordinating activities for children, and

  • Entertaining children through reading, playing games and other activities.

What qualifications do you need to work in childcare?

As a childcare worker in Australia, at a minimum, you must hold or be actively working towards a Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care. This qualification also includes a number of hours of compulsory work experience. 

A Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care is a great entry-level course. It will provide you with the foundational skills needed to pursue a career in early childhood education and care. It’s also a fantastic stepping stone for furthering your studies in the field. 

Once you’ve completed your Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care, you can pursue a range of different childcare roles, including a position as a family daycare provider, an early childhood education and care assistant or an early childhood education and care worker.

While a Cert III in Early Childhood Education and Care is one route to enter the childcare industry, there are a number of different childcare courses and qualifications available that can help you land a role in childcare, including a Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care, a Diploma of School Age Education and Care, and a Bachelor of Education (Early Childhood).

To be successful, you’ll also need to undergo a background check and hold relevant first-aid training depending on your role and the childcare setting you’ll be working in. Once you’ve looked at your study options, it’s worth also thinking about what skills I need for childcare.  

What skills do you need to be a childcare worker?

When considering a career in childcare, it’s important to reflect on what qualities you need for childcare. While some of these skills come naturally to some people, other skills can be developed with time and experience.

Besides having a passion for children and a strong desire to have a positive influence on the lives of young children, there are a number of qualities that can help to make your career a success. While it’s difficult to narrow down this list and identify what are the top three childcare skills, we’ve pulled together ten skills that a childcare worker should possess in order to be successful.

1. Patience

There’s no doubt that you need to exercise a great deal of patience when it comes to working with children. All children learn and progress at different rates. Demonstrating patience during these formative years is essential for supporting children's emotional and cognitive development.

2. Communication skills

As a childcare worker, you’ll be required to communicate effectively with a broad range of people. From children to co-workers, specialists, parents and families, strong communication is essential for success in childcare. Not only is communication critical to providing a high level of education and care, but it’s also vital to be able to discuss the child’s progress with the family.

3. Active listening

Part of being an effective communicator is active listening. Active listening involves not just hearing what people say but also observing their body language and other non-verbal cues. Many young children are still developing their communication skills, so by showing them your full attention and taking the time to listen to what they’re saying, you’ll be able to develop a much better relationship with them and respond appropriately.

4. Creativity

Applying your creative skills in the field of childcare is one of the best ways to keep children engaged and entertained. Delivering creative lessons and projects can help to cultivate a love of learning.

5. Enthusiasm

Displaying enthusiasm and passion is essential for encouraging children to get involved. Plus, it can be a great source of motivation. Positivity and enthusiasm are infectious and it’s one way to make sure the children enjoy their time with you.

6. Organisation

There’s so much more to childcare than just supervising, educating and caring for children. As a childcare worker, you’ll need to get involved in planning activities and lessons, as well as ensuring that the children stick to their daily routines. Organisational skills are essential for staying on track.

7. Decision-making

As a childcare worker, you’ll need to use your judgement and logic to make quick decisions under pressure. Whether you’re responding to complex situations or navigating conflict between children in the classroom, you’ll come across a range of different situations daily that will require well-honed decision-making skills.

8. Problem-solving skills

Not only will you need to be able to make decisions quickly, but you’re also going to need to be able to come up with creative solutions to problems. Problem-solving skills can also extend to coming up with unique remedies to learning difficulties or they might involve keeping children safe in the learning environment. 

9. Leadership

As a childcare worker, you’ll be required to lead groups of children through a variety of activities and lessons, so you’ll certainly put your leadership skills to the test. Depending on your role, you may also be required to lead teams of other childcare workers, which makes leadership skills essential on a number of levels.

10. Compassion

Chances are you’re going to have to deal with a range of different emotions, not just from children, but from parents and families too. Drawing on your emotional intelligence can help you to demonstrate compassion and respond to emotional children or parents in a calm and collected manner, which can help to diffuse situations. 

When it comes time to apply for a position as a childcare worker, put yourself in the childcare centre's shoes and think about what qualities you have that could add to their childcare centre. Consider what are your top 3 childcare skills and what skills can you bring to childcare. Reflecting on these points can help you to be successful in your job hunt. If you’re after more information to help you establish your career in childcare, Care for Kids is home to a number of great resources and articles for childcare workers.

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