Every occupation and industry has its myths and misconceptions. Unless you actually work in the field, it's easy to develop some false ideas about what it's all about, right?
Early childhood education (ECE) is no exception.
In fact, this field is surrounded by so many myths, we decided to round them up and debunk them, once and for all.
This post is dedicated to all the talented early childhood educators out there—and anyone who's passionate about pursuing this career.
So here they are: the top 7 myths about early childhood education, training, and careers....busted!
ECE Myth #1: Kids in Preschool & Daycare don't really learn anything
Actually, humans do most of their learning and development between birth and age 5. On every level—physical, cognitive, emotional, social—this is the period when kids are hitting key milestones and rapidly progressing.
Early childhood educators play a key part in that learning process. Through play, educational activities, and acting as role models, ECEs make a huge difference in their little students' lives.
Every single day at preschool and daycare, children soak up new information, learn new skills, and build new relationships. These experiences have a tremendous impact on how they feel about school, teachers, themselves, and life in general.
ECE Myth #2: Early childhood educators are just glorified babysitters
Ah, yes. This is an especially annoying myth that has persisted for far too long. Any professional ECE who has supervised a group of babies and toddlers, taught them key skills, and helped them adjust to classroom learning knows how ridiculous this myth truly is.
Babysitters look after children. Early childhood educators teach children. In fact, they teach them an astonishingly wide range of skills, including:
- basic reading and writing
- language and communication
- gross and fine motor skills
- social skills (how to make friends, share, work with a team)
- basic numeracy
- basic scientific concepts
- independent problem-solving
- self-respect and respect for others
- how to follow instructions
- how to manage emotions
Early childhood educators prepare students for school and for life. This includes everything from academic skills to social and emotional development. It's an incredibly important job.
ECE Myth #3: There are few jobs in this field
Speaking of jobs...there's a very common misconception that ECEs have few job opportunities. Well, we can quickly debunk that myth, right here and now.
Currently in Quebec, there is a shortage of trained early childhood educators. According to the Government of Canada, this occupation is in high demand throughout the province, and forecasted to continue growing over the coming years.
In fact, the role of ECE gets the Job Bank's highest rating for growth: 3 stars. Here's a snapshot of the 2019 report on early childhood educators in Quebec, showing over 600 available jobs posted on the Job Bank alone.
Source: Government of Canada Job Bank, Market Report
ECE Myth #4: Working as an ECE is boring
What could possibly be boring about a room full of rambunctious toddlers? If anything, there's probably too much going on!
Early childhood educators have one of the most fascinating jobs in the world. They get to watch babies and toddlers grow and evolve, right before their eyes.
Humans change so much in those early years, and ECEs get a front row seat—and play a major role—in encouraging that development.
Imagine, helping a child spell their name for the very first time. Or watching toddlers learn how to make friends, share, solve problems, and work in teams.
Every single day is different in this career. ECEs are always learning and growing, and helping their tiny students do the same.
ECE Myth #5: Early childhood education training is really easy
Nope. Ask anyone who's completed a quality early childhood education program, and they'll set you straight. The courses are challenging, and the internships put you face-to-face with real kids at a daycare or preschool.
If you want to earn a diploma in early childhood education, you'll need to pass courses in:
- child development and psychology
- child health and safety, including identifying signs of abuse or neglect
- how to communicate with children, parents, supervisors, and community members
- designing effective educational activities for babies, toddlers, and young children
- teaching children from diverse backgrounds, and those with special learning needs
- behavior management
- early childhood education theories
- child observation and documentation methods
Plus, you'll do two internships during your training—one in the middle, and one at the end. You'll be expected to apply what you've learned in a real preschool or daycare classroom. It's exciting...and challenging!
ECEs have to think on their feet, be creative, know how to handle a group of kids, and design activities that will encouraging learning at every stage of child development.
It takes hard work and real skill to succeed in training, and build a successful career in this field.
ECE Myth #6: You don't need special skills to become an ECE
We just touched on this myth in the previous point. Yes, ECEs need practical skills, theoretical knowledge, and intensive training to do this job well.
They need to understand theories of human development and education. They need to build trusting relationships with children, and know how to resolve conflicts in the classroom.
Early childhood educators need a very large toolkit of activities, games, and teaching techniques—and be ready to adapt them to children with different needs.
And on top of all this, they need to communicate well with anxious parents, and be responsible for the health and safety of every single child in their care. It's a big responsibility, requiring a broad set of very special skills.
ECE Myth #7: There are no career advancement opportunities
Wrong again. Early childhood educators can become entrepreneurs and open their own daycare businesses.
They can also become instructors, and teach early childhood education training at a local college. ECEs can specialize in working with kids who have learning challenges. They can assist teachers in kindergartens and elementary schools.
Or, you can go on to university, earn a Bachelor of Education, and become a licensed teacher.
No matter which path you choose, one thing is for sure: this career demands lifelong learning. You will continue to challenge yourself, and develop new skills, as the years go by.
And there you have it! Seven common ECE myths busted and debunked. And a huge thank-you to all the hard-working early childhood educators out there, who shape our children's lives in such important ways.
Are you interested in becoming an early childhood educator? Want to learn more about training, careers, and how to get started? We'd love to hear from you.
Click below to explore Herzing's Early Childhood Education Diploma, and connect with an Admissions Advisor today!