Best Careers for Teachers: Providing Day Care And Before and After School Care (page 3)
Perhaps you truly love working with children, but not necessarily in the classroom. If so, providing day care for preschoolers or before and after school care for older kids might be a perfect job option for you. As more and more parents have become two-income families, the need for quality child care has grown. As a person with full teaching credentials, you could easily be considered excellent for the job. Whether you would need additional training or certification depends on where you work and how many children you will care for.
Day care workers shoulder a great deal of responsibility. After all, when a parent turns his son or daughter over to you, it implies a huge amount of trust. It will be your job, for several hours a day, to meet that child's basic needs, from physical and emotional to intellectual and social. Clearly the needs of infants are different than those of older children. For the youngest set, your job would primarily include feeding, changing, holding, and playing. Older children typically require organized activities of some kind to keep busy.
Exploring Your Options
What questions should you consider before going into any kind of day care? Let's explore a few.
"Child care providers, sometimes called day care providers, were originally considered responsible only for the children's basic care. Preschool teachers were responsible only for the children's educational activities. The separation in these major fields continues to diminish because of the growing knowledge that anyone who spends any amount of time with children does affect their learning, and they must also care about the children's basic needs."
—Renee Wittenberg,Opportunities in Child Care
What Age Children Are You Most Comfortable With?
Do you prefer to spend your day with babies? Children under the age of two? Preschoolers? Are you familiar with their needs? If you have spent most of your time teaching teenagers, for example, starting to take care of infants may seem like a welcome change, but if you don't have much experience, it can quickly turn to disaster. Infants demand a great deal of watching, and since they cannot communicate with you yet, they usually cry until you figure out the problem. On the other hand, older kids often require homework assistance and help developing social skills. They will also need to be fed snacks on a regular basis (most likely provided by the parents, but this is one of the many details you will work out upon reaching an agreement).
Where Do You Want to Provide Day Care/Before and After School Care?
Child care typically takes place in one of three locations. Many people choose to open up their own homes. They designate certain parts of their homes for the business (creating a nice tax deduction in the process), and watch as many children as their state allows (laws vary on how many children per adults are allowed and are traditionally based on the age of the children). This type of child care is known as family child care. Some states require that your home be licensed if you are going to watch children as a business. They may conduct a background check on you, plus require that you are certified in CPR and first aid. If you choose this type of care, you will need to make sure you have the right supplies on hand. While infants do not have many needs (bottles, formulas, and diapers should be provided by the parents), older children will need a steady supply of games, arts, and crafts to hold their attention—and keep them out of trouble.
Another type of child care, private household care, is done in a client's home. This type of caretaker is sometimes known as a nanny or au pair, or simply a babysitter. In this situation, you will work one-on-one with a child or with siblings. Some child care workers work only during the daytime hours, while others live at the client's home and commonly must work on weeknights and weekends. If you are single, this can be a good arrangement. Nannies typically make $10 to $16 an hour, depending on their experience and the age and number of children involved.
The third type of child care is done in a kind of center, like a community center, church, public school, or large office building. In this situation, you would be more likely to share the care of children with several other people. Often you will need additional training or certification to get this job, so check state requirements. You will also have to deal with unannounced visits from the state licensing board, during which they will go through processes like measuring the square footage, asking the children about their activities, watching to make sure children are never left unobserved, inspecting the playground, and observing all caregiver interactions with the children. Health inspectors also come by without warning to test water temperatures, check supplies, and to make sure that all dangerous medicines and cleaning supplies are locked up safely.
Are You More Interested in Being a Child Care Provider or a Child Care Director?
The positions are similar. If you run your own child care business alone, you will have to take on some of director duties anyway. In a center, however, a director has quite a bit of responsibility, and is often given the tasks of supervising all providers, plus many administrative duties like:
- promoting enrollment
- ordering materials, equipment, and supplies
- conducting staff meetings
- hiring and firing providers and any other staff
- filling in if or when necessary
- receiving and recording tuition
- marketing and advertising
- establishing policies and procedures
- following all state regulations
- keeping the center clean and maintaining supplies and equipment
- maintaining contact with parents through meetings, notes, and/or conferences
- updating files on each child to record progress or problems
Are You Willing to Get Additional Training?
Many places will not require more than a teaching degree, but each state has its own requirements, which may include a national Child Development Associate credential or the Certified Childcare Professional designation from the Council for Professional Recognition and the National Child Care Association.
How Do You Feel about Working a Real Split Shift?
If you decide to work in before and after school child care, your work hours may be quite strange. Before school care means being at work as early as 6 a.m. and being finished by 10 a.m. A good portion of your day is then free, until you have to return for the after school care from approximately 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. You may love this schedule—you have hours each day to get things done—or you may despise it.
Finally, Are You Easily Grossed Out?
While it's true that as a teacher you might have already had opportunities to deal with bodily fluids of all kinds, in day care, you are sure to deal with such pleasures! If coping with urine, feces, blood, or vomit bothers you to the point that you might refuse to deal with them, this isn't the direction to go unless you have older kids in your charge—and then there is still no guarantee.
Child care is rewarding work—like teaching, you get the chance to nurture and guide young people. But it has definite drawbacks, too. It is frequently a very high-stress job. Children can be physically and emotionally exhausting. Dealing with parents can also be challenging. The skills you have learned during your years in the classroom will help you here. You might have already dealt with fighting kids, angry parents, long hours, and maybe even very serious issues like possible abuse, so you most likely have an arsenal of coping techniques and helpful responses at your disposal.
The outlook for child care is quite high, with an average of 18 percent growth between now and 2016. The median annual income in 2006 was $17,630, although child care workers who work in residence and centers tend to make about $3,000 more per year.
"Those privileged to touch the lives of children and youth should constantly be aware that their impact on a single child may affect a multitude of others a thousand years from now."
Interested in this field? Consider the following questions and think about how your answers might affect this career choice:
- What age children do you enjoy working with most?
- Do you prefer to work one-on-one or with a group of children?
- Would you prefer to be the only child care provider, or work with several others?
- How much experience have you had with different aged children?
- Would you prefer to focus on watching the kids or having more control over the center, as with a director's position?
- Are you willing to work on weekends and holidays?
- Can you take children on regional field trips? Would you want to?
- Are you familiar with special needs children and what they require?
- Does your state require that your home be licensed in order to operate a day care? If so, can you meet all of the requirements?
- Is your family willing to work around your child care business?
Further Resources to Investigate
National Association of Child Care Professionals
- P.O. Box 90723
- Austin, TX 78709
National Child Care Association
- 1325 G Street NW, Suite 500
- Washington, DC 20005
National Child Care Information Center
- 243 Church Street NW, Second Floor
- Vienna, VA 22180
International Nanny Association
- 191 Clarksville Road
- Princeton Junction, NJ 08550-3111
Council for Professional Recognition
- 2460 16th Street NW
- Washington, D.C. 20009-3575
The Original Nanny Jobs
Great Au Pairs
- Eberts, Marjorie and Margaret Gisler. Careers in Child Care (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2007).
- Wittenberg, Renee. Opportunities in Child Care Careers (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2006).
Washington Virtual Academies
Tuition-free online school for Washington students.
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