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When are most programs open?
There are many different types of programs and the hours of operation, as well as options for attendance, vary. In general, you will find that most programs will operate some or all of the days between Monday and Friday. Typical program hours include:
- Full Day: Monday – Friday from early morning (6 or 7 am) through evening (5 to 7 pm)
- Half Day: Monday-Friday either morning or afternoon.
- Part Days: Usually 2 or 3 days Monday-Friday
- Before and after school programs for elementary school children usually follow a Full Day schedule when the children are not in school
- Most full day programs will include a rest time for children, most half days will not.
- There may be very few programs with evening or weekend options, but the traditional workweek is still the majority of when programs operate.
When will I be working?
If you define a career as one’s life work, and a job as something you do to make money during designated hours, working with children will most definitely be a career.
Inside the Classroom
As seen in the assessment earlier in this chapter, early childhood professionals take on a variety of tasks inside the classroom. During the workday, teachers will be expected to:
- Carefully plan the classroom environment.
- Plan interactions and intentional learning experiences.
- Create warm, respectful relationships with children and families.
- Know how to handle conflict with others.
- Plan a consistent, yet flexible daily routine.
- Extend children’s development and learning.
- Acknowledge and support children’s accomplishments.
- Respond, instead of reacting.
- Find meaningful ways to communicate and collaborate with families.
- Be a positive role model.
- Advocate for children and families.
- Maintain an environment that supports health, safety, and nutrition.
- Collaborate with team teachers and other colleagues
- Attend staff meetings
- Adhere to ethical practices
Outside the Classroom
There will also be a variety of tasks to perform outside of the classroom. These will include:
- Preparing materials
- Researching topics
- Collecting resources
- Attending workshops and conferences
- Joining and participating in professional organizations
- Developing relationships with community resources and advocacy
- Continuing your education
New Teacher Comments
“ I now understand the sign that sits on my directors’ desk, ‘A TEACHER’S WORK IS NEVER DONE.’”
“I’m learning that as a new teacher I am spending much of my time outside of work preparing materials for my class. My friends joke about how I now look at any item to figure out how I might use it. The other day I asked them to save their toilet paper rolls and they laughingly agreed.”
“When teachers aren’t with their classes, they are thinking about their classes.”
Pause to Reflect
Was this what you were expecting? Why or why not?
When should I become more involved than just taking classes?
Because a career in early childhood education is multifaceted, taking classes is a necessary and beneficial start. So is volunteering whenever you can to gain experience. In addition, we encourage you to jump in and get as involved as you like in the profession. Perhaps you want to join attend a workshop or conference? Perhaps you want to join an organization.
As mentioned throughout the course, the "mother ship" of early childhood professionals is the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). We mention them again here as a resource for your professional growth and development. Many high quality programs and teachers adhere to their standards and are members of this organization.
While NAEYC is the primary organization for Early Childhood Professionals (naeyc.org), other organizations support our field as well. Here are a few of them:
- Child Care Exchange
- California Association for the Education of Young Children (CAAEYC is an affiliate of NAEYC)
- Council for Professional Development
- Professional Association for Children
- Children’s Defense Fund
- National Head Start Association
- World Association of Early Educators
- National Child Care Association
- High Scope
- Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning
There are many more, but this is just a taste of how rich the field is in supporting children and families and the practitioners that serve them.
We also encourage you to “look local”. Many community colleges offer clubs and organizations on campus that may feel more comfortable to start with. At College of the Desert, you may want to join in the Future Educators Club. Contact Maria Avalos, club advisor, to get started.
New Teacher Comments
“I am so happy I found our campus education club. I enjoy the meetings and have met so many people. I actually heard about my job through someone at a meeting who mentioned her program was hiring.
I attended my first workshop and was blown away. I learned so much and had so much fun. I’m definitely signing up for more!”
You might also consider exploring the California (CA) Early Care and Education (ECE) Workforce Registry: https://www.caregistry.org .The “Registry” is a web-based system designed to track and promote the employment, training, and education accomplishments of the early care and education ECE teachers and providers.
Pause to Reflect
What suggestions might you pursue to get “more involved” in the field?