Career Development

What Does a Daycare Teacher Do?

Find out what a daycare teacher does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as a daycare teacher.

Daycare teachers are responsible for the care and supervision of children during the day. They work with a group of kids who attend together, usually from the same family or neighborhood. Daycare teachers may also be responsible for providing basic education to these children while they’re in their care.

Daycare Teacher Job Duties

Daycare teachers typically have a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Teaching children basic skills such as language, social skills, and cognitive development
  • Observing students’ behavior to recognize signs of stress or illness and referring them to the school nurse or other appropriate personnel for assistance
  • Providing affection and attention to children who may be experiencing separation anxiety due to a parent’s absence at work or because of other reasons
  • Providing instructions on safety rules and procedures including fire drills and water safety
  • Planning fun activities that engage children’s interest while providing opportunities for learning new things
  • Assessing each child’s progress and communicating with parents about their child’s progress, behavior issues, and other concerns
  • Assisting with children’s physical needs such as feeding and dressing them, as well as supervising toilet time and play time
  • Explaining new routines or rules to children and helping them transition to new activities or situations
  • Preparing activities that encourage social interaction among children, such as art projects, music time, and story time

Daycare Teacher Salary & Outlook

Daycare teacher salaries vary depending on their level of education, years of experience, and the type of daycare they work in. They may also earn additional compensation in the form of overtime.

  • Median Annual Salary: $27,500 ($13.22/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $54,500 ($26.2/hour)

The employment of daycare teachers is expected to grow at an average rate over the next decade.

The need for childcare will continue to increase as more women work and more parents seek quality care for their children. However, the increasing cost of childcare may limit demand for daycare teachers.

Related: In-Depth Daycare Teacher Salary Guide

Daycare Teacher Job Requirements

A daycare teacher typically needs to have the following qualifications:

Education: Daycare teachers are typically required to have at least a high school diploma or GED. Some employers may prefer to hire candidates who have a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education or a related field.

Many daycare teachers choose to pursue a degree in early childhood education. This field of study includes courses in child development, psychology, teaching methods and classroom management.

Training & Experience: Most daycare teachers receive on-the-job training from their supervisors or other teachers. This training can last for a few days to a few months, depending on the facility’s policies and the teacher’s experience. During training, a daycare teacher will learn about the facility’s policies and procedures, including how to handle emergencies, how to interact with parents and how to handle the children. They will also learn about the curriculum and teaching methods the facility uses.

Certifications & Licenses: Daycare teachers typically need first aid and CPR certifications before working in daycare facilities. The Red Cross offers both certifications.

Daycare Teacher Skills

Daycare teachers need the following skills in order to be successful:

Communication skills: Communication skills are necessary for daycare teachers to have, as they are often in charge of communicating with parents, other teachers and staff members. Daycare teachers should be able to communicate effectively with children, as they often need to explain rules, procedures and other important information to them.

Creativity and imagination: Children are naturally curious and imaginative, and daycare teachers can use their own creativity to engage their students. Children often learn best when they’re having fun, so daycare teachers can use their imagination to create engaging activities that help children develop important skills.

Patience: Patience is another skill that can help daycare teachers be more effective in their roles. Children can be unpredictable and may not always listen to instructions or follow rules. Having patience can allow you to respond to these situations calmly and help the children in your care learn to make better choices.

Organization: Organization is another skill that can help daycare teachers be more effective in their roles. This is because they often have many responsibilities to manage, including the schedules of multiple children, the cleanliness of the classroom and the organization of supplies and materials. Being able to keep track of all of these things can help a daycare teacher be more efficient and effective in their role.

Leadership: Leadership is the ability to guide and motivate others. Daycare teachers often need to demonstrate leadership skills to ensure the safety and well-being of the children in their care. For example, a daycare teacher might need to lead a group of children in an outdoor activity. This requires the teacher to be able to direct the children and ensure they follow the rules and stay safe.

Daycare Teacher Work Environment

Daycare teachers work in a variety of settings, including public and private daycare centers, Head Start programs, preschools, and elementary schools. They typically work a standard 40-hour week, although some teachers may work part-time or have irregular schedules. Many teachers also work evenings and weekends to attend meetings, complete paperwork, or participate in professional development activities. Daycare teachers may be required to work overtime to care for children whose parents are working late or have emergencies. The work can be physically demanding, as teachers are often required to lift and carry young children. They also may be exposed to communicable diseases. Daycare teachers must be able to handle the stress of working with young children, who can be unpredictable and challenging.

Daycare Teacher Trends

Here are three trends influencing how daycare teachers work. Daycare teachers will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

More Attention to the Social and Emotional Development of Children

As society becomes more aware of the importance of social and emotional development, daycare teachers will need to focus on this area.

Daycare teachers can play a key role in helping children develop positive relationships with their peers and learn how to manage their emotions. They can also help parents understand the importance of these skills and how they can be developed early on.

More Focus on STEM Education

The trend of increasing focus on STEM education is being driven by a number of factors, including the need for more qualified workers in the tech industry and the desire of students to explore new areas of study.

As more and more schools begin to focus on STEM subjects, daycare teachers will need to be prepared to provide a solid foundation in these areas. This includes not only teaching basic concepts, but also providing opportunities for students to apply what they have learned in real-world settings.

Greater Awareness of the Importance of Play

The importance of play has been recognized as an essential part of child development for many years, but recent research suggests that it may be even more important than previously thought.

Daycare teachers can capitalize on this trend by creating a learning environment that emphasizes play as well as academic achievement. This can be done by providing toys and activities that encourage creativity and exploration, as well as by offering support and encouragement to children who are struggling with particular tasks.

How to Become a Daycare Teacher

A career as a daycare teacher can be rewarding and fulfilling. It’s important to consider the type of daycare you want to work in before applying for jobs. Some daycares are more focused on education than others, so it’s important to find one that matches your teaching style and philosophy.

You should also think about what age group you want to teach. Some daycares specialize in teaching infants, toddlers, or preschoolers. You may also want to consider working at a daycare that offers additional services, such as after-school programs or summer camps.

Related: How to Write a Daycare Teacher Resume

Advancement Prospects

Daycare teachers typically have the opportunity to advance to lead teacher positions. In these roles, they may oversee a group of teachers and assistants and be responsible for curriculum development and implementation. Some daycare teachers may eventually open their own child care facilities.

Those who wish to move into management or administration positions may need to complete additional coursework in early childhood education or child development. Some states also require child care administrators to have a bachelor’s degree.

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