How to teach kids: a guide to a career in early education

by Craig Boyle
Posted: March 07, 2019

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Early childhood is a pivotal time, laying the foundation and pathway that a person may follow. A good teacher in early childhood can be the difference between success and failure. If you’d like to teach, knowing how to teach kids as opposed to knowing how to teach in general is important. By tailoring your approach specifically towards developing young minds, you can become a teacher that transforms lives and sets children on the right path.

Do I need a degree?

The first step to being able to teach kids is to gain the right qualifications. The beauty of a career in education is that you can start it in later life – there’s no need to worry about having the right level of education, as there are routes from almost every level.

Firstly, you can attain a CHC30113 ?Certificate III in Early Childhood Education & Care as a foundation, then move into a CHC50113 Diploma of Early Childhood Education & Care to qualify as an Early Childhood Educator. You can then progress your studies into a bachelor’s degree at university after this Diploma, should you choose to do so.

How to teach kids: the qualities you need

Teaching young children demands a certain skill set, but it also requires a certain type of person. While most people can learn to be educators, it almost goes without saying that those devoted to teaching children have certain qualities that make them great at handling kids. These are:

  • Patience: let’s face it, children can be challenging. Especially when they’re in an environment that isn’t their home and isn’t their choice. Teachers need to be patient in order to succeed, and when dealing with children this is doubly true. If you’re prone to losing your cool and getting frustrated when things don’t work as intended, you need to develop patience before entering a career as an early childhood educator.
  • Understanding: an educator must be understanding of children – taking their backgrounds, families, personal circumstances and general personalities into account at all times. You must understand how children learn, and how each child in your class may differ in their approach.
  • Communication: great teachers know how to communicate with their students. When dealing with kids, it’s harder to get your message across. While you’ll learn how to communicate with children during your studies, the innate ability to communicate will help you stand out.
  • Passion: teachers must showcase passion whenever they’re in the classroom. If they don’t, how can we expect that students will be engaged and invested in their learning? In early childhood, a positive and passionate teacher can get children excited about learning and can help transform their lives.
  • Creativity: a great teacher knows how to bring creativity to their lessons, and also to bring out the creativity in students. Whether it’s a new way to teach a topic students are struggling to grasp, or encouraging students to express themselves, creativity in early childhood is key to development.

How to teach kids: tips for success

Children have lots of individual quirks, which makes it difficult to prepare for the reality of teaching. If you possess the qualities we’ve listed above, you’ll already have a great basis for working with children. However, there are still some excellent tips and tricks for budding educators that will help you out. Here are our favourites:

  • When you want to gain a child’s attention, don’t raise your voice – often talking quietly actually draws a child in and creates interest. This allows you to have your voice heard without getting exasperated.
  • Offer choices, not reprimands. If you can set things up so that children feel they have choices, but each outcome favours you and their learning, you can avoid temper tantrums and issues before they ever happen.
  • Encourage participation – it’s amazing to see a child who feels valued come to life in a class. Invite children to help you whenever possible and make them feel like they play a role in their own learning.
  • Offer praise over rewards. Some teachers offer prizes and other physical rewards as incentives – which can be effective but can also set a false precedent and demotivate students whenever the rewards aren’t on offer. Instead, make your praise something they aim for.
  • Provide structure. Students need some form of routine or structure to follow, which will encourage them to get into a learning-ready mindset from the moment you arrive.
  • Be positive and encouraging at all times. While education can be trying, especially when it comes to kids, it’s vital that you’re providing positive reinforcement at any opportunity. Even when a child misbehaves, being positive rather than negative can transform the situation. Whether you work in a classroom or one-to-one, positivity can be the difference between a productive student or a disinterested, switched-off one.

How to teach kids in the age of tech

One final point to note is that the way technology has grown has transformed how many children learn. Tablets and smartphones are everywhere, providing access to information and distraction in equal measure. Children nowadays have wide access to technology, and often have their own tablets and laptops in the classroom. It’s now imperative that teachers understand how to encourage children to use their technology to learn, rather than to distract themselves with.

As a teacher, you can use technology to your advantage. It will depend on your role and your responsibilities once you’ve entered the field, but some teachers use tablets and computers to teach children in new ways.

Even more modern developments such as Virtual Reality (VR) are offering new opportunities to teachers. To put this simply: it’s an exciting time to enter the world of education, and you’ll be at the forefront of leading change to transform how students learn.

Learning how to teach kids is just the beginning of your journey. Actually doing the job and learning as you progress through the role is the only way you’ll build a full understanding of what it means to teach. If you have the attributes we’ve listed, the desire to change lives and can take some of our tips to heart, you can become an unforgettable educator who will make a lasting impact in children’s lives. To get started, visit our education page today and see which course is right for you.

 

Craig Boyle
Craig is a copywriter working for Open Colleges. He's originally from the small city of Newcastle Upon Tyne in the UK, so he is enjoying exploring sunny Sydney. Craig's career passions include marketing, small business, tech, start-ups and leadership.

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