What Do Teachers Do at Daycare?

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    A daycare teacher works with young children, including infants, toddlers, and preschoolers, and is responsible for their well-being and pre-kindergarten education while parents are at work. The job description of a daycare teacher requires patience, compassion, responsibility, strong organizational skills, and a background in early childhood education.

    Working with children requires many skills and strengths, some of which are acquired and others not. For example, childcare workers must demonstrate maturity and confidence to interact with children on their level while providing a secure environment. At the same time, you must be prepared to tackle a wide range of issues in a normal workday and rely on your abilities to think on your feet to make quick, important decisions.

    A daycare teacher watches children whose parents work full time, designs creative activities for entertaining children and aid in their intellectual development, and encourages positive interactions among children at the daycare centre.

    Early Childhood Educators (ECEs) specialize in working with young children, from toddlers to children of up to six years of age. Their role consists mostly of providing nursing and instruction in the most basic aspects of formal education. Some of the topics they cover include vocabulary, basic reading and writing, and developing the foundations of social interactions. Early Childhood Educators must also create a positive environment and detect behavioural or cognitive difficulties in their students to apply corrections or teaching methods.

    The most commonplace for Early Childhood Educators to work in are kindergartens and daycare centres. These are special facilities filled with the necessary personnel to provide young children with everything to boost their physical, mental, and emotional development. Early Childhood Educators may also work in community centres or companies that offer daycare services to their employers.

    Essential Duties and Responsibilities of a Daycare Teacher

    • Monitors all children under care while parents are at work.
    • Ensures that children are safe and well behaved.
    • Designs craft projects and other creative activities for children to complete.
    • Provides snacks and meals for children.
    • Make sure the daycare centre is clean and organized.
    • Takes children to nearby parks or oversees recess as they play outside.
    • Monitors interactions between children to ensure there are no fights or disputes.
    • Disciplines children when necessary.
    • Provides updates to parents on children’s behaviour and progress.
    • Administers first aid when necessary.
    • Comforts children who are homesick or upset.
    • Designs activities that help children learn the alphabet and basic reading skills.
    • Arranges and oversees rest times or nap times.
    • Feeds, changes, and carries infants at the daycare centre.
    • Assists in recruiting, training, and overseeing teacher’s aides.
    • Administrators care for sick children.
    • Contact parents in the event of an emergency.
    • Answers parent inquiries.
    • Addresses and resolves disputes among children.
    • Design and follow a full schedule of activities and discover suitable teaching material
    • Balance your teaching between logical and social exercises
    • Provide basic care and caregiving activities
    • Use a wide range of teaching methods (stories, media, indoor or outdoor games, drawing etc.) to enhance the child’s abilities.
    • Evaluate children’s performance to make sure they are on the right learning track
    • Remain in constant communication with parents and update them on the progress of their children
    • Observe children’s interactions and promote the spirit of concord
    • Identify behavioural problems and determine the right course of action.
    • Collaborate with other colleagues
    • Adhere with teaching standards and safety regulations as established by the official sources
    • Review learning material with students, either individually or in small groups, to help reinforce lessons presented by lead teachers
    • Supervise students in class, during lunch hour, playtime or recess, and at special events, like field trips
    • Aid in teaching appropriate behaviour and social skills to students
    • Assist in enforcing school and classroom rules
    • Assist with record-keeping, such as attendance records, student progress notes and grades
    • Help teachers prepare for lessons by assembling materials and equipment.
    • Provide personal aid and care as necessary to students, such as help with hygiene, eating or toileting, for example

    Required Knowledge, Skills and Abilities

    • Demonstrates patience and compassion.
    • Exhibits traits of a responsible and attentive person.
    • Demonstrates strong organizational skills.
    • Possesses knowledge of proper childcare techniques and early childhood development theory.
    • Is capable of applying childhood development theory to everyday activities and curricula.
    • Possesses strong listening skills.
    • Demonstrates ability to communicate effectively with young children.
    • Exhibits strong leadership skills.
    • Can think and act quickly in a crisis.
    • Possesses knowledge of basic first aid and emergency procedures.
    • Demonstrates strong problem-solving skills.
    • Exhibits the ability to think creatively and innovatively when designing activities.
    • Demonstrates strong interpersonal skills.
    • Possesses physical and mental stamina required to oversee large numbers of young children daily.
    • Proven experience as a Child Care / Daycare Teacher
    • Excellent knowledge of child development and up-to-date education methods
    • Methodical and creative
    • Patience, flexibility and love for children
    • Strong communication and time management skills
    • Certificate in first aid and CPR
    • Degree in early childhood education

    Education and Experience


    A daycare teacher holds a high school diploma and a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education. Some daycare teachers also hold Master’s Degrees in Education, and most have had previous experience teaching and working with children, often as teacher’s aides. Daycare teachers must also receive their teaching certification before employment.

    What can I do with an Early Childhood Care & Development Diploma?

    Earning Bryant & Stratton’s Early Childhood Care & Development diploma provides you with the educational background you need to pursue becoming a Daycare Assistant Teacher/Teacher Aide. Completing this diploma program can also help prepare you to work with children in various other settings, including child development programs, early intervention programs, preschools and recreation programs.

    Work Environment

    A daycare teacher spends their working hours in a daycare centre, either an independent entity, attached to a school or business or based in a private residence. Teachers generally maintain 40-hour workweeks, though evening and weekend hours may be necessary. Depending on the number of children being supervised and the teacher’s aides available, the environment can be hectic and stressful, particularly if children are sick or misbehaved.

    Nurturing Abilities

    Teaching kids how to interact with others is an integral part of a childcare worker’s responsibility and is best achieved by serving as a positive role model. Children are sensitive to the words you speak, and they watch your actions just as closely. Therefore, you must be aware of your tone to ensure that you are nurturing their self-esteem and encouraging good habits. For example, when you ask children to say please and thank you, you foster cooperation when you are polite at the same time. When children feel accepted and appreciated, they learn more effectively and behave more appropriately.


    Whether you work in a commercial setting, such as at a daycare centre or provide personal care for children in their homes, you often are faced with scenarios that may call for different skill sets each day. In contrast, it’s important to organize activities and make plans to keep kids busy throughout the day and regularly plan for interruptions and unplanned events. For example, kids may get sick and exhibit irritability, which can undermine your best organizational efforts. Be flexible in dealing with parents’ vacation times, unexpected delays and irregular schedules as well.


    Parents entrust you with the safety of their children, so you must maintain vigilance at all times when kids are in your care. It’s your responsibility to ensure that children are safe as you constantly monitor their activities. For example, you must ensure that the food you give to children is safe and cooked properly. Often, a childcare worker will first notice developmental delays, physical ailments or emotional problems in children and bring those issues to parents’ attention.

    Physical Stamina

    No matter what age you’re working with, children will keep you moving, and you must be able to keep up with them physically. For a childcare worker, physical stamina is as important as your love of children. If you can’t keep up with the children in your care, you won’t be able to maintain the calm, patient attention they need from you.

    Other Responsibilities

    Here’s a non-exhaustive list of common tasks Early Childhood Educators are required to complete.

    • Providing a stimulating, caring, inclusive, safe, and clean environment for infants and toddlers:
      • Ensuring children’s safety by identifying and preventing potential risks and health hazards; and
      • Maintaining a clean environment, promoting good personal hygiene and handwashing, and assisting in housekeeping duties (e.g. ensuring toys, furniture, and equipment are appropriately cleaned and sanitized).
    • Assisting in planning, preparing, and implementing high quality, play-based, developmentally appropriate curriculum to foster physical, cognitive, emotional, and social development:
      • Developing schedules and routines to familiarize students with daily habits and necessities (e.g. washing hands), including feeding them lunch/snacks and ensuring they get proper rest;
      • teaching children pre-literacy, reading and language skills (e.g. rhymes, alphabets, and numbers), motor skills, and shape and colour recognition;
      • organizing activities that promote and facilitate the development of social, creative, and physical skills;
      • ensuring that all activities also serve to promote and improve each child’s self-esteem; and
      • Individualizing the curriculum as required, ensuring that all activities are accessible.
    • Using different teaching methods to adapt to each child’s individual needs:
      • Instructing infants and toddlers on how to convey their ideas, feelings, and needs by establishing conversations, asking, and responding to their questions; and
      • Improving children’s behaviour by explaining and demonstrating good practices to them.
    • Identifying any behavioural or cognitive difficulties children may present to apply the necessary corrections or special methods:
      • Identifying and adapting to each child’s personality, skills, and necessities;
      • devoting extra time to tend to the special needs of some children;
      • tracking and reporting children’s health, safety, and well-being; and
      • Reporting any abusive situation to the appropriate authorities, whether the child is experiencing physical, sexual, emotional, and verbal abuse.
    • Observing, monitoring, and tracking each child’s progress and development to make sure they work successfully towards achieving pre-established learning and behavioural goals:
      • Complying with all recording and reporting requirements outlined by national and provincial policies and procedures (e.g. daily log, incident reports, and medication administration); and
      • meeting with parents and other staff members in order to discuss behavioural and learning difficulties children may present.

    Career Outlook


    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Occupational Outlook Handbook, job prospects for Daycare Assistant Teachers are expected to be favourable in the coming years. The agency projects a job growth rate of 8 per cent for Assistant Teachers between 2016 and 2026, a rate that is about as fast as the average for all occupations and slightly faster than the 7 per cent rate of expected job growth for child care workers in general. BLS cites increased child enrollment as a factor in that expected rate of employment growth and state and federal funding for early childhood education programs. Continuing demand for childcare services from working parents is also expected to contribute to job growth in this area. An increasing focus on the importance of early education in promoting intellectual, emotional and social development in children is also a factor.

    While this information can give people an idea of the career potential of specific occupations, it is important to note that job market data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Handbook is only intended to provide insight on occupational opportunities. It is not to be construed as a guarantee of salary or job title. Neither BLS nor Bryant & Stratton College can guarantee employment in this or any other occupational field.

    Common Employment Settings

    Daycare Assistant Teachers typically work in daycare centres, child care facilities or preschools. These may be independent, stand-alone child care or preschool businesses, child care or preschool programs. They tend to be run by community centres, churches or non-profit organizations. Daycare/preschool services provided by schools or child care centres provided by businesses, corporations or government agencies benefit their employees and are necessary for working families.

    Daily Tasks

    • Stimulating and assisting in the integral development of children’s skills.
    • Maintaining a caring, inclusive, safe, and hygienic environment.
    • Developing schedules and routines, all while promoting good behaviours and habits.
    • Tracking and reporting children’s progress and development and their health, safety, and well-being.

    Other Required Skills and Qualifications

    • Strong interpersonal and communication skills:
      • Communicating clearly and confidently, both in writing and verbally, to create a clear, communicative, and nurturing environment for children;
      • using tact, patience, and good judgment when communicating with parents and staff to maintain effective and collaborative relationships;
      • being a great listener, as well as being able to easily and efficiently identify children’s needs and difficulties (e.g. learning and behavioural challenges); and
      • being an effective team player.
    • Strong sense of empathy and compassion:
      • Demonstrating sensitivity to individual needs of children;
      • displaying an inherent ability to make others feel cared about; and
      • Working within a multicultural environment, showing consideration and respect to a diverse range of children and families of all backgrounds and abilities.
    • Optimistic, energetic, with a fun-loving attitude and a strong ability to motivate others.
      • High levels of creativity, initiative, flexibility, and responsiveness, as well as strong leadership skills:
      • Adapting well to changing demands;
      • using creativity and imagination to develop new insights and to apply new solutions to problems;
      • demonstrating exceptional supervisory skills and providing complete safety and comfort to children; and
      • being able to model healthy adult-child relationships and positive discipline.
    • Organizational and time management skills:
      • Strategically structuring and customizing teaching curriculum;
      • prioritizing and planning work activities as to use time efficiently while handling a high volume, diverse workload; and
      • multitasking; being able to work under pressure in a dynamic, fast-paced environment.

    Aside from the skills listed above, Early Childhood Educators also need to demonstrate a thorough understanding of early childhood development, including best practices and current research. They must also understand and comply with all regulations related to early years’ programs (e.g. school board policies and procedures and provincial and national legislation).

    Early Childhood Educators must have completed an Early Childhood Education college degree, or a combination of education and experience that yields the required knowledge, skills, and abilities. In addition, familiarity with health and safety regulations is often required yet always preferred.

    Additional certifications are definite assets, including, but not limited to, the following:

    • Early Childhood Educator Licence to Practice;
    • Reconceptualizing Early Childhood Education (RECE);
    • Infant/Toddler Certifications;
    • Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) Certificate;
    • and
    • First-Aid Certification, along with a Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) Certification.

    Most Early Childhood Educator positions require a minimum of 0 to 2 years of child care experience, working with infants and toddlers. In addition, all Early Childhood Educators must have a clear criminal record and a medical certification of good health. Most companies will also conduct child welfare checks and vulnerable sector checks before hiring an Early Childhood Educator. Early Childhood Educators must also be able to work flexible schedules (e.g. rotating shifts) and stand, bend, crouch, and kneel for extensive hours.

    A daycare teacher watches children whose parents work full time, designs creative activities to entertain children and aid in their intellectual development, and encourages positive interactions among children at the daycare center.

    Preschool teachers play an important role in building a child's success in their first years of school. ... They provide structure and help children grow in their reading and writing skills, teach science and help children understand themselves.

    • Proven experience as a Child Care / Daycare Teacher.
    • Excellent knowledge of child development and up-to-date education methods.
    • Methodical and creative.
    • Patience, flexibility and love for children.
    • Strong communication and time management skills.
    • Certificate in first aid and CPR.
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