Sensory awareness, or the act of noticing a particular sensation, can be interesting and surprising. Whether becoming aware of the blueness of a clear sky or the softness of a new shirt, these moments of awareness are often pleasant, and can let people experience familiar things in new ways.
For young children, developing senses lead to many of these kinds of moments, and this presents both opportunities and challenges for early childcare assistants.
If you’re curious about how sensory awareness can affect the way you interact with children in your workplace, here are a couple of points you might consider.
1. Considering an Early Childcare Assistant Career? Sensory Play Is Great Stimulation for Kids
Play time doesn’t need to be about “doing,” necessarily. Kids spend a lot of time in a state of sensory awareness, and can get lots of value out of simply experiencing their different senses. PBS points out that “Children… learn best and retain the most information when they engage their senses,” and states that investigative play time—time during which kids can touch, play with, and explore an object—helps “develop and refine cognitive, social and emotional, physical, creative, and linguistic skill sets.”
Guiding children to play in ways that engage different senses is a great way to help them develop their minds. Consider playing music together, introducing different play materials like “oobleck,” or playing with shadow puppets to get kids to engage with their senses.
2. Future Early Childhood Assistants: Sensory Awareness Can Be Embarrassing for Some Kids
It might not seem like a big deal, but “getting caught” enjoying sensory stimulation like listening to a favourite song or touching a soft fabric can be embarrassing for some people. If you’re thinking about pursuing an early childcare assistant career, this is a good thing to keep in mind.
In a paper entitled “Sensory Awareness,” written for the University of Nevada’s Department of Psychology, researchers speculate that the reason for this potential embarrassment is that sensory awareness is typically a reaction to “what feels good… in a very sensual way,” and “sensual interests are intensely personal.”
The best approach to deal with this embarrassment will be different from child to child, but knowing the potential for this phenomenon will be helpful when going into the classroom.
3. Children With Disorders May React Differently to Sensory Awareness
Though sensory awareness can often be a pleasant experience, for some children—particularly those with developmental disabilities that have affected their sensory system—they can present a challenge.
According to Autism.com, for some children, “Sometimes one or more senses are either over- or under-reactive to stimulation.” which can lead to “behaviors like rocking, spinning, and hand-flapping.”
For example, once you become an early childcare assistant, if you see a child cover their ears when music plays, then they might be oversensitive to sound. Children who are under sensitive, on the other hand, might seek out loud noises or other sensory experiences. By being aware of these reactions to sensory awareness, you can adapt your lessons accordingly.
Some kids may have a difficult time reacting to sensory awareness
Sensory awareness can be great fun, and is an essential part of childhood cognitive development. It also poses a few challenges that future childcare assistants might want to keep in mind while working alongside kids.
Amazing placements! National Academy students are required to complete mandatory job placements in order to gain valuable experience for their future careers. Use this opportunity to learn from experienced mentors. Observe how Early Childcare Educators handle disruptive situations and watch how they diffuse tense situations.
Great things happen often! Like our Instructors, Early Childcare Assistants are a happy bunch. They are excited about their work each day and this directly impacts how they will excel in the workplace. Remember, a child’s first teacher is often the one he or she remembers the most which means you could be that person in the life of the children you teach.
You will become more flexible. Although young children need a consistent schedule, you will learn to always allow for the unexpected. Children are inquisitive and spontaneous by nature. This also makes them quite fun to be around! What if snow starts falling or a school bus arrives outside? You will learn to make use of these simple, teachable moments and bring them into everyday life!
You will start the day with a smile. There is something about working with children that makes it possible to smile, even when you don’t feel like it. Not only does smiling make you feel good, it will reassure parents that you will care for their child and the children feel more comfortable as well!
Your cleaning skills will be top-notch! Kids make a mess! Make sure your classroom is tidy and safe at all times. Making lists of potential hazards and keeping things orderly will prevent accidents from happening. A bonus of working in a clean environment is that it also directly affects your health in positive ways!
Respect for others. Working as an Early Childcare Assistant will help you to realize that each child has a different learning style. Some children learn best in visual mode, others in auditory mode and some learn best in a kinesthetic style including using their hands to feel, touch, and explore. By evaluating each child and finding his or her best learning style you will help in their educational process.
Making a difference. Different children come from different family environments. Sadly, some of the children you are working with may even be living in homeless shelters or dysfunctional families. They may exhibit aggressive behavior, signs of withdrawal, or disruptive conduct. Realize that a structured environment, consistent daily routine, compassion and shared control between adult and child are critical for a distressed child. You can help to be a consistent rock in a child’s life.
You don’t ever have to stop learning. If you love learning, this is the right job for you! Always keep an open mind. Read recent reports on child care. Consider upgrading your diploma or take refresher course at National Academy – All NAHB graduates are welcome to take a refresher course at any time.
Be social and have fun! Being an active member of a professional organization provides you with a network of like-minded individuals! These events can actually be quite fun with the right bunch of people! You can learn from others, meet new people in your field and have a wider network for future job opportunities. It also proves your serious about the career you chose.
You get to be a professional. Having a good working relationship with others is always important. Keep relationships professional at all times and focus on the children. Sure, working with kids is fun but always remember that you are one of the highest ranked employees within a childcare centre. Learn from this opportunity and it will take you far in life. Being friendly and courteous to teachers and parents ensures all will be confident leaving their children in your good hands.
For more information about National Academy of Health & Business and our Early Childcare Assistant program, please visit us online www.nahb.ca for more contact information.
Many of us use our smartphones and computers on a daily basis, which is why knowing how to properly use technology is an important skill in today’s digital age. Getting familiar with technology is now an important part of any education, and that education often starts right at the preschool level. It’s one of the reasons why many of today’s preschools keep tablets and other digital devices on hand, and why your career as an early childhood educator will likely involve introducing kids to new technology.
How can you help kids get tech savvy? If you’re on your way to becoming an early childcare assistant, read on to discover why technology is an important component of early childhood care and how early childcare assistants can effectively introduce kids to technology.
The Technology Debate in Early Childcare Training
It’s no secret that there has been much debate over whether or not technology is playing a positive or negative role in children’s development. Often parents and researchers agree that technology can be extremely beneficial, but only in moderation. The utilization of technology is an important part of any kid’s development, but too much technology time can sometimes encourage kids to develop over-use habits that will likely continue on much later in life. That’s why as an early childhood assistant you’ll have a big responsibility in making sure that the children under your care learn to use new technology without developing bad habits.
1. Early Childcare Assistants Learn When to Introduce Kids to Tech
In early childcare training you will learn that age plays an extremely important part in measuring when and why certain learning activities should be introduced to children. For instance, many experts recommend waiting until the children you’re caring for are in preschool, or over two years of age, before introducing technology into their activities. The reason for this is that children two and under often learn best through experience and using their senses. Once children turn three, educational multimedia content can begin to be incorporated into their routine.
2. Early Childcare Training Teaches Students to Monitor Use of Tablets and Other Devices
As you’ll soon learn during your studies, it’s important to carefully monitor children’s learning activities, especially when they use new technology. Make sure to keep screens and devices in a communal area in order to help monitor the usage of these devices and ensure that children receive balanced exposure. As an early childcare assistant, maintain a close proximity to children who are using tablets or computers in order to point out some aspects of the educational program that they may have missed, or answer questions that children may have.
Stay close to kids on the computer to point out some interesting stuff!
3. An Early Childcare Assistant Knows That Content Matters
As you introduce the children under your care to new technology, you’ll also want to make sure that the content they come across online is age appropriate and educational. The first thing you’ll want to do is set up controls on all devices so that kids can only access age-appropriate content. In addition, you’ll also want to make sure that kids visit educationally focused websites instead of just entertainment based ones.
With numerous games and activities available for smart phones and tablets, there’s no shortage of educational material out there suitable for all early childhood ages. Games like AlphaTots Alphabet, for example, use fun elements like spaceships and robots to make learning the alphabet more enjoyable for kids.
Technology provides today’s children with easy access to more information than ever before. Through television, computers, tablets and more, children are exposed to so much at such an early age. While there are many advantages associated with the rise of technology, there are also a few disadvantages. One such disadvantage is that most tech items tend to keep children indoors. Studies have shown that this can leave children feeling disconnected from the outside world.
On the other hand, nature offers endless opportunities for hands-on learning and play. Nature Education is a growing trend in schools and other educational institutions, because it benefits the physical and intellectual development of children, as well as their overall sense of well-being.
Read on to learn a few of the reasons why nature education should be a part of your early childcare assistant career.
A Good Early Childcare Assistant Knows the Outdoors Promotes Exercise
Once you begin your career, you’ll notice that most daycares and preschools don’t have gymnasiums. As a result, you might find that the outdoors is a great alternative to having children run around inside the classroom.
Nature is a great place for young children to develop their motor skills. For instance, throwing a ball will help them develop their strength as well as their reflexes. An experienced early childcare assistant knows that the there are many other outdoor activities which help children develop their motor skills, such as pushing a swing or pulling a wagon. Additionally, the outdoors provides children with a lot of space to move and play, so they can get the exercise they need to stay healthy.
Early Childcare Training Teaches Students the Educational Benefits of Nature
Being outdoors also helps young minds develop in a variety of ways. During your early childcare assistant career, you can help educators develop activities that allow children to learn new things, which they otherwise wouldn’t indoors. For example, children can explore the natural habitats of plants and insects, or they can learn more about the textures of earth’s materials like soil, water and rocks. These are great ways to introduce kids to topics like science and ecology.
Being in nature also helps with language development. This is because children will begin looking for new words to describe things like birds, animals, and the environment around them.
Nature education is a great way to engage a child’s natural sense of curiosity.
An Early Childcare Assistant Knows Nature Boosts Creativity & Problem Solving Skills
Nature helps children to be much more creative and observant. Being outside and experiencing nature with all of their senses can help develop a child’s observational skills much more effectively than if they were to watch an educational program about nature. This type of learning makes children feel more connected with their environment.
Studies have shown that when they are outdoors, children tend to engage in much more creative activities, and they are also more cooperative with others during outdoor play. Additionally, certain activities can also help children develop their problem-solving skills. By asking children to collect all of the outdoor equipment and put it away, for example, an early childcare assistant is actually helping children work together to solve a problem—cleaning up.
Nature education in early childhood years encourages children to adopt healthy emotional, behavioral, and lifestyle patterns that can last a lifetime!
Playtime is serious business for young learners! By acting out different dramatic roles, children can explore the boundaries of their own identities and put a variety of new skills into practice.
With the guidance of trained professionals in a safe environment, children can experience productive playtimes and develop ideas about the world around them. They gain social skills, physical dexterity, personal insight, and more—building foundational skills they’ll use for years to come.
If you are planning to enroll in early childcare assistant courses, or you have already started your program, read on to learn about the benefits of dramatic play in early childhood education.
Dramatic Play is an Early Childhood Cognitive Workout
Underneath those fireman hats and fluffy wigs, children’s minds are working extra hard—dressing up and acting out scenes pushes a child toward higher levels of thinking.
For example, children playing “house” must recall what they’ve seen their parents do at home in order to act it out. In addition, they must communicate effectively with each other, negotiate ideas, and participate in active storytelling, all while incorporating imaginative abstract thinking.
“When kids substitute a wooden block for a phone, they are thinking symbolically,” says Dr. Ann Barbour, leading American professor of early childhood education. “That’s a precursor to all later academic experiences, like reading, writing and math.”
Dramatic play also introduces children to the concept of identity. How does a pirate act? What does a teacher do? Who can be a superhero? Dressing-up helps children arrive at first-hand conclusions about different ways they can express themselves.
Early Childcare Professionals Teach Social Skills Through Dramatic Play
Experts with anearly childcare assistant diploma have the skills to create safe, developmentally-appropriate spaces where children can take risks and practice fundamental social skills.
Through play, children explore big issues like fairness and right and wrong. They learn to balance their desire for power and control with their need for fun and caring friendships. With a professional’s support, they take turns, agree on topics, problem-solve, and work as a team.
Dress-up play encourages an interest in peers and society. By literally walking in other people’s shoes, kids can learn about what life is like for various members of their communities. In fact, studies link role-play to empathy, suggesting that children who role-play are more skilled in judging how other people might feel than those who don’t role-play.
Dramatic Play Gives Children Physical Benefits
Childcare training teaches the value of offering diverse activities for active bodies and minds.
Dramatic play ticks all the physical development boxes: from gross motor skills that come from running, dancing, or pretending to fly, to fine muscle coordination from grasping, zipping, or buttoning.
These take lots of practice for preschoolers and help prepare them for life skills like getting dressed and using small utensils to eat and write. Making time for their coordination development will promote their physical health and allow them to burn off some of the day’s excess energy.
The Early Childhood Assistant’s Role in Dramatic Play
If you choose to become an early childcare assistant, children will depend on you to provide them with the time, space, and support they’ll need for enriching dramatic play. You will help ensure the classroom is kept safe and clean, and assist educators in providing the skills and emotional strength children need to take chances and cope with complex learning situations.
Early childcare professionals are the anchor of each imaginary pirate ship, and the key ingredient in every playtime kitchen. With the right training, you can take on the job of helping children reach their full potential.
Many educators feel that conflict resolution strategies are the best way to eliminate or at least reduce fights in elementary and high school. But what if it were possible to instill the values of amicable conflict resolution and cooperation in even younger children? Would that carry over into the elementary and high school setting and possibly stay with children the rest of their lives?
There is a growing movement of people who think that yes, it would. They have developed strategies which early childhood assistants can use to deal with conflicts in a preschool classroom while imparting the fundamentals of conflict resolution and cooperation to children at a very young age.
Why Early Childcare Assistants Should Implement Conflict Resolution Strategies
In addition to the immediately apparent benefits, such as a more manageable preschool classroom, implementing conflict resolution strategies early on can have lasting positive repercussions for young children. These include:
A sense of confidence through knowing their opinions and feelings are heard and valid
A concept of how teamwork can solve problems
The ability to look at problems from an outside perspective
Association of conflict resolution with fundamental concepts of the alphabet and numbers
Early Childcare Conflict Resolution Ground Rules
Before an early childcare assistant can begin demonstrating to children how a conflict can and should be resolved, it is important to find a quiet place where everyone can discuss. By placing the resolution process in a different part of the room from where the conflict occurred, it creates a separation between the disagreement and the potential agreement, which promotes looking at the situation rationally instead of emotionally.
Once the group has been relocated, it is important to lay down some ground rules. Good ones to use are:
Every child gets to have their input
No interruptions from the other children when a child is speaking
Each child must propose a solution which will be discussed by the group
The group will select the best solution and will respect it
Steps in Early Childcare Conflict Resolution
Once ground rules have been established by the early childcare assistant traininggraduate, the conflict resolution process can begin. It is important that the education assistant follows an established procedure so the young students can get used to it. A typical order of stages could go like this:
Go around the circle and let each child tell their side of events
The childcare assistant summarizes their understanding of what has happened and asks for confirmation on their analysis of events from the children
Each child proposes a solution
The group decides on a finals solution together
The childcare assistant monitors the children to make sure the resolution is followed