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5 Top Skills to Master to Thrive as an Early Childhood Educator

By July 8, 2024No Comments
childhood education certification

If you’re that person who gravitates toward children, is fascinated by how their little minds work and long to inspire them, play with them, to show them that the world is a wondrous place and feel called to help them navigate it, then a career as an early childhood educator (ECE) may be for you.

Beyond books and hands-on training, testing all you’ve learned in your ECE course, beyond that early childhood education diploma, working in this dynamic field calls you to cultivate within yourself a set of skills that may or may not come naturally to you. But they are essential to recognize and work on so that you can take your passion and turn it into a profession.

An ECE program will give you the foundation, and early childhood educator certification will give you credibility, but these skills mastered will allow you to become so much more than a teacher; you will become confident as guide, mentor, cheerleader, and so much more.

5 Top Skills You Need to Master to Thrive on the Job Everyday!


1. Infinite Patience and Adaptable Demeanor

These skills go hand-in-hand. Every day with wee ones brings wonder, challenges, and oodles of surprises. One minute it will feel like everything is flowing, the next, sometimes, like it’s exploding. You set the tone for the environment and can guide these learning, growing children consciously so that there is more flow than clean up, and incredible lessons learned all along the way. This takes patience, infinite patience, so that you can respond to what happens moment-to-moment rather than react. And in assessing each situation, you must be adaptable to what the experience requires.

  • Deep breathing, meditation, setting intentions for your day and seeing through the eyes of gratitude and curiosity can go a long way in assisting you in finding your calm and flexible groove.

2. Overflowing Enthusiasm

Children are affected by, not just your actions, but your energy. Ever notice how little ones can sense things older folks seem not to notice? They are often open and joyful around happy adults and quiet and reluctant around those who seem distant or upset, even if it isn’t overt. We can’t hide our emotions, not really. So, if you are truly and authentically jazzed about being around children, love your job and working with the team of like-minded people around you, the children in your midst will feel that energy and feed off it. Is it easy to be enthusiastic all the time? Nope? Does enthusiasm mean that you’re laughing and leaping with excitement? Absolutely not. Enthusiasm can be expressed in various ways, but the underlying current is that of deep contentment and expressive passion for the moment and the experience.

  • Enthusiasm stems from perspective and an attitude of gratitude. As an ECE you must have an overarching enthusiasm for working with children, but in the day-to-day challenges that arise, you must also learn to tap that well again and again. This comes from seeing through the lens of gratitude and appreciation for the work you get to do and knowing that you can face any situation and be an example for how to deal with, and learn from, it all.

3. Wild Imagination and Desire to Creatively Express It

As children start out, we need to safeguard their innate ability to imagine and create in their unique, vastly varied, and expressive forms. In this we are helping them discover who they deeply, truly are, and are encouraging them to live and express from there throughout their lives. To do this, we must be firmly rooted in these areas ourselves, because as we know, children learn more from what we do than what we say. You need to set an example for these little ones; they’ll follow your lead. To do this, you need to tap that child within and let fly the ideas and artistic creation and expression that come.

  • Remembering back to your own childhood, think about what made you truly happy, how you liked to express and create, what you dreamed about and imagined could be possible. Play with those thoughts, often, rekindle them in the now and share those discoveries with the little ones who look to you to show them how to turn on, and keep on, the creative light.

4. Keen Eyes and Ability to Assess and Guide

To truly mentor, inspire, direct, and empower children to develop we must first be able to see them, keenly and consistently see them. Your powers of observation will be the key to understanding where they are at, what they need to develop and specifically how you, as their guide, can encourage them. Diving into a leading-edge program and getting your childhood education certification will give you the practical training and foundational knowledge of child development, but knowing which stage they’re at takes a desire and ability to watch carefully and assess effectively. This skill will allow you to know which steps and tools to use next to help them along on their journey.

  • Practicing conscious observation can help cultivate this powerful skill. Take up people watching, nature watching, attend to the details, journal them, assess them. At work, deliberately pause in the busy, sit, watch, attend to the children, not in action but in presence. Soon this will become second nature and you will become the best version of an ECE you can be.

5. Stellar Communication and Collaboration

The children are the stars of your day, but the team you work with and how you consider, connect, communicate, and collaborate with them makes up the sky of your experience. There is value in one of you, but power in all of you working together, observing together, assessing together, collaborating on how to address challenges, and celebrate wins, considering how you can all play better and more together. Coming to know your team, communicating openly and respectfully, focusing on the positive and creatively solving problems together will set the tone for joy in the workplace. This will be infectious – for each team member and each child and family member who get to be a part of your extraordinary environment.

  • Take the time to connect with each of your team members; get to know them personally and professionally. Make a pact with one another to meet regularly, discussing your individual and collective goals and week-to-week intentions, challenges needing solutions and wins needing celebration. No matter your role on the team, you can take the lead on cultivating a sense of community and family with those you work with.

The opportunities before you as an ECE are exceptional; children need you; families need you, and communities need you to raise the next generation of leaders. Mastering these skills will ensure you’re able to thrive within any role you take on and allow you to feel proud of the contribution you’re making each and every day.

If you’re still considering if this program and position may align with your interest, take the “Anderson College Early Childhood Educator Career Training Readiness Quiz”.

When you’re ready to take the leap, we’re here to help you navigate the adventure to immersing yourself in Early Childhood Education. Book a virtual appointment with our admissions team today and let’s get you launched!

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