Almost everyone who works and has children too young to attend school--or school-aged children who need care before and after school--uses some type of childcare. If you are looking for a childcare worker to care for your children, you'll want to be sure that he or she has certain characteristics. A childcare worker should be patient, nurturing, fun-loving and responsible.
A Good Communicator
When searching for the right person to care for your little ones, pay attention to whether or not candidates communicate directly with your children. The way a childcare worker initially communicates with children is a good indicator of what type of experience the worker will provide for the child. Childcare workers who try to relate to children, ask them questions about themselves and seem genuinely interested in the child's responses and preferences will typically attempt to provide a fun, stimulating and nurturing environment.
Childcare workers should be nurturing. Children need support, affection and encouragement. Workers should tell children they are proud of them, encourage frustrated children, and offer hugs and affection to children who are sad, angry, lonely or missing their parents. A nurturing environment is integral to boosting children's self-esteem and providing them with a sense of security.
Children have a special knack for trying the patience of those who care for them. Testing boundaries is a natural part of a child's development. Childcare workers should expect children to push against imposed limits, and exhibit boundless reserves of tolerance.
It's important for childcare workers to love to play with children. They should facilitate recreational activity with the children they care for; this includes creating and supplying both indoor and outdoor games, providing toys and other supplies to stimulate the children's imaginations, and reading stories aloud.
Childcare workers should attempt to foster a sense of independence in the children they care for. Depending on the age of the children, this may include teaching them to dress themselves, feed themselves, retrieve their own toys and books, assist with simple tasks and use the bathroom on their own.
A Natural Teacher
Children are constantly absorbing new information from their environments; childcare workers should be natural teachers. They should explain aloud what they are doing as well as how and why, as children are constantly listening and paying attention even when they don't appear to be. It is especially helpful for childcare workers to point out letters, words and numbers to young children, as this helps them learn how to read and ultimately succeed later in life.
A Good Example
Childcare workers should practice what they preach. Children will do what they see rather than what they are told; it is important for adults caring for children of any age to follow their own rules to avoid sending mixed signals.
Parents should perform thorough background checks and check the references of anyone they are considering to care for their children, in order to ensure he or she is morally and ethically responsible.
2016 Salary Information for Childcare Workers
Childcare workers earned a median annual salary of $21,170 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, childcare workers earned a 25th percentile salary of $18,680, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $25,490, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 1,216,600 people were employed in the U.S. as childcare workers.