I love what I get to do for a living! I have been working with children for the majority of my life, beginning with babysitting and moving through to becoming a certified Early Childhood Educator. Now I can happily say I’ve worn many different ECE hats: nanny, preschool teacher, adventure companion, parent-participation program facilitator, special needs aide, and personalized program planner and facilitator, coming up with unique ways of helping the families and children I’ve worked with move toward reaching their goals. It’s all been very rewarding, and so I’ve made up a list of a few reasons why I am so glad I chose this field to enter into – and why you might enjoy becoming an ECE, too!
8 Reasons Why I Love Working With Children
Reason #1: I get to PLAY!!
There’s nothing better, in my opinion, than being able to “play” all day. Of course there’s a lot of hard work (physical and mental) involved in being the best early childhood educator – the best partner and model in learning – that you can be. But it’s so much fun, and nothing worth having or doing comes easily. Nor should it. Accomplishment is much more satisfying when you can feel that you’ve earned it – AND had a blast along the way.
With children, play IS their work. Through play – pretending, building with blocks, playing games, and all manner of child play – children experience their world and different concept that are important to them by getting to know these concepts more completely in a safe and interesting scenario. There have been many, many times that I have joined in on a child’s reconstruction of a concept (otherwise known as pretend or imaginary play) in whatever role was needed. I’ve been a mother, sister, passenger, daughter, store owner, shopper, doctor, patient, dog, teacher, student, baby (one of the most relaxing, wordless, cared-for roles) and countless other pretend identities. I get to play with lego, matching games, sand, paint, water, playdough and so much more. A day in an early childhood centre is chock full of opportunities for play, and I definitely make the most of it.
Reason #2: I get a lot of exercise
Working with young children, there is always a lot of opportunity for physical activity, whether it’s booked into the daily schedule or not. In gym and outdoor time, I run laps chasing, being chased, or racing. I jump, climb, stretch, reach, bend, dance and move my body right along with the other little movers all around me. I go for walks, collect forest treasures, and help to pile up leaves. I particularly love leading the children in group yoga sessions, helping them find new ways of maneuvering and stretching those little limbs to become a rabbit, flamingo, butterfly, skunk or whatever the most intriguing pose of the moment is. I have done a fair bit of group and one-on-one yoga through stories, and have toyed with the idea of organizing a sort of a YogaTales story-time yoga class for children. One day I may get up the gumption to actually do it. It’s on the list. (In the mean time, here are my favourite tips and tools for yoga with kids.)
Reason #3: I laugh… a lot
In a single day working with a group – big or small – of active and engaged little minds, I end up hearing and seeing some pretty amusing moments. The sheer excitement, discovery, humour, attitude, wonder and bluntness turns even the most mundane of tasks into a beaming smile or a roaring of laughter. There have been so many moments in my preschool classroom that I have wanted to lock away for future as they were pure comedic gold, but do you think I can remember many of them? Of course not. What they say about “mommy-brain” is true – I’m just not as good at retaining information as I once was. I’m hoping this comes back. In the mean time, you can check out the Preschool Gems website, and follow them @preschoolgems on twitter for some hilarious gems that fall from the mouths of babes.
Reason #4: Children help you see things from a whole new perspective
Once you have built up a certain concept in your mind about something, it is harder to see things from a simpler perspective. The English language in all it’s confusing glory is something that is an endless source for new ideas and takes on a specific piece of information. I remember sitting at circle once, when the children were going around sharing past experiences of some sort. One child was explaining how he had to do something in his bare feet, and another child got this look of confusion and then asked “Why didn’t you use your own feet?” To this child, bear was the common understanding of the way bare sounds, and so he wondered at why the first child used a bear’s feet to do whatever the task was. Of course, my first question would have been “Where did you get a pair of bear feet?”, but apparently that wasn’t the more curious piece. Come on, Teacher Hannah, let’s stay on task here.
Reason #5: I love to be loved
The amount of times I have had exactly what I needed to have said to me, or to have been given a hug or other caring gesture from a tiny being in my line of work, that soothed my soul just the way it needs to be, is tremendous. Somehow, children seem to know when you’re feeling a little bit lost, unappreciated, or generally down, even when you do your absolute best to make sure you leave your personal life at home when you step through that door. When children love, they love so wholly and without judgement, and it can warm even the coldest of hearts. When a child bestows on you their cherished work of art, wrapping embrace, or loving words, your world gets a whole lot brighter. Even if they see you in the supermarket next week (or even that same day), and have no idea who you are, in that one moment you meant a whole lot to that child. And that means a whole lot to me.
Reason #6: It keeps me thinking
Being the go-to adult in a room of 20 or so children who look to for encouragement, boundaries, information, comfort, conflict resolution, and advice with problem solving keeps your brain constantly a-ticking. There is no one “solve all” answer for any situation, as everything will change depending on the specific time, place, people, moods, skills, tools and temperaments involved. You have to be able to come up with creative and effective ideas – and quickly! – in order to not only survive, but to make the best of each experience.
There are also a lot of direct questions I get asked every session, as anyone who’s ever spent some time around children will know. Why is this crayon yellow? Why does ice melt? What is “despicable”? How does a fish breathe? Where do bees sleep? What noise does a zebra make? There are a lot of wonderings in the mind of a youngster. I wish we as adults would still look for information as heartily. There is certainly a lot out there I don’t know or know about, but I don’t ask even a quadrillionth of the questions a 4-year-old asks. (By the way, zeebras make a “whoop”ing sound, and I have no idea if “quadrillionth” is a word… actually, it’s not showing a squiggly red line underneath from spellcheck, so I guess it must be. Same with “squiggly”, believe it or not.) Being a facilitator for children in their learning experiences also provides me with the opportunity to learn a lot about the world at the same time, right along with them.
Reason #7: I get to be creative
I feel that I’m a fairly creative person, always with a few projects and ideas on the go. Setting up experiences for the children to engage with and learn from let’s me exercise that creativity by not only coming up with fun and interesting ideas for materials and examples to set up, but also lets me turn an activity or a space into a beautiful and aesthetically pleasing adventure.
Reason #8: Honesty
Honesty is a huge value to me. I believe that if only humans were capable of reading minds, having all of our thoughts transparent and out there, the world would be a better place. There would be no such thing as a lie and confusion and miscommunication would cease to be a problem. People would also be more capable of guarding their thoughts and our minds would rest easier and happier being used to housing only the purest of thoughts and intentions. Or at least this is how it would work in my own little utopia fantasy.
In any case, honesty always seems to be the best policy. And children are great at speaking their true and blatant thoughts. When my breath smells like coffee, I am told. When the activity I thought was going to be great really isn’t that exciting to a little one, I’m let in on it. But on the flip side, when I’m told how my story is “the best” or how much my absence has been missed, I know it’s more than idle chatter.
I really could go on all day about all the reasons I love what I do. If you’re not certain what you want to do with your life, and you’re considering going into Early Childhood Care and Education, I strongly encourage you to check out this very rewarding life choice. You may not make a ton of money, but you’ll make a ton of memories (if your brain is working better than mind for retaining them at the moment) and you’ll experience a wealth of rich and real learning and loving experiences that can fill up your soul. To me, it’s a trade I don’t have to think twice about.
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Why do you love working or spending time with children? Comment below or connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. You can also add your name to the list here of awesome people who are already receiving a short and sweet weekly update about what’s new on The Big To-Do List.
*All the images shown have been given to me and approved by preschoolers and their families during my time spent with them. I have chosen only photos where no faces, or obscured faces are shown, in respect for the privacy of these children.*