I work as teacher in a round-the-clock kindergarten. In total we are 25 teachers + some employees in other roles. As a teacher and a team leader, I am responsible for the pedagogy of my group with the rest of our team. As a teacher I also ensure that the written tasks of the group are realised. However, my main task is the daily child care and creating a safe environment for children to grow.
My days vary a lot due to working in 24/7 kindergarten and due to differences between the shifts. My day shift on weekdays is however often the following: first we have breakfast with children, some of which might have just woken up. After breakfast we often divide the children in smaller groups. We spend the noon in groups outside, doing different activities such as crafting, making music, playing, exercising or reading books. In groups of children who are about to go to pre-school, we also held pre-school sessions, where we practiced how to use pen or scissors, or how to handle emotions.
After lunch children usually take a nap, and meanwhile I might often do written tasks (such as early childhood education discussions, paper work related to children that need special support, planning upcoming sessions etc.) Often the employees also have meetings with the whole house or in teams. After the kids have woken up from naps, we eat snacks and continue the day similarly as in noon; by doing different activities and spending time outside. The children in evening shift then have dinner and the kids in day shifts are picked up at 5pm at the latest. After the dinner we aim to organise home-like activities; we play, watch children’s shows, do crafting - the idea is to act in children-oriented way. In the evening we have supper, and after bathing, the kids in night shift go to bed with night teacher, while we play with the kids in evening shift until the parents pick them up to go to bed.
I like the variety of my work days, and the fact that we aim to invest in everyday pedagogy. Teaching does not occur in supervised sessions, but in everyday situations and transitions. I love the everyday encounters with the kids in my work. Children are genuine and sincere, I love to throw myself into every moment with them. We learn skills for the future, and every little success brings tangible joy to them, which is transmitted to me as well.
Unfortunately many kids have lots of problems nowadays. There are behavioural problems, there might be problems in families, and round-the-clock nature brings instability instead of routines in children’s lives. The hardest thing is to sometimes see, that a small child is doing mentally unwell.
Everybody is creative in some area, and in our work you need to recognise everybody’s strengths and utilise them. You just need to identify your strengths and to enjoy them! Communication is extremely important, both with the families and kids. I think that customer service jobs have taught me to act with different people. In conflict situations, patient and and calm attitude acts as an example for kids. Children also need to learn in peace, via repetitions and without hurry. Sometimes this requires strong nerves from the teacher.
Responsibility and team work go hand in hand - in order to be a trustworthy member of the team, you need to do your part. This also teaches responsibility. Parents also need to be able to trust that they leave their children with a safe adult. However, in my opinion educator’s empathy is the most important thing. Empathy makes the adult more approachable for the kid, especially if the child has sorrows. For a kid, staying in the kindergarten, falling, or losing a toy might be really devastating things. Educator needs to be able to relate to child’s mood, so the kid feels understood. It is easier to learn to handle these strong feelings with an adult.