Tue Apr 06 2021

10 things you should never do as an ECE

written by Vanessa Serrao

Photo by Gabby K from Pexels

As an early childhood educator, there are certain things that you want to avoid doing in order for things to run smoothly and to avoid added stress onto your day. As an early childhood educator, I have witnessed most of these things happen and even if we these things are done unintentionally we still need to understand that it isn’t okay. As humans, we learn from our mistakes, so if you have done any of these make sure to learn from the mistakes and not do them again. Here are 10 things you should never do as an ECE.


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Let’s face it, we have all gossiped at one point in our lives. But as an early childhood educator, it is something you should really restrain from doing. You should never gossip about another co-worker, child, parent of a child, or your supervisor or boss. Essentially, gossiping will make you look bad, it will make other people lose trust in you, it shows bad manners, and it ruins professional relationships. The last thing you want is to start a bad reputation for yourself at work or even get let go because you were badmouthing someone.

Badmouth a place you used to work at on social media

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Social media has so many benefits, but you have to be careful about how you are using social media. Facebook has some great groups for early childhood educators, but you have to be careful with this as well. You should never write hateful language or put down a company that you have worked for on social media.

I have heard stories where somebody left their workplace and then was badmouthing where they had worked in an ECE Facebook group. Long story short, it didn’t end well for that person. Regardless of what happened to that person at their previous workplace, the person should have kept it confidential. The lesson in all this is to be careful what you post on social media.

Post pictures of the children you work with on social media without the parent’s consent

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Daycares, centers, and schools usually have a policy where they have to get consent from the parents if they can post pictures of their children on social media. But aside from that, as an early childhood educator, you should never post pictures or videos of the children you are working with online unless you get consent from the parents. In addition, you should also avoid using the names of the children you are working with when talking to others.

Another story that someone told me was that a worker was telling her family a story about one of the children. She used the child’s name, and they also described what the child looked like. When the father of this person came to pick up that person from work the father saw the child and said hi to that child. The parent was there and got upset. Evidently, then the parent went to go tell the supervisor of the center and was concerned why that person knew who her child was. Put yourself in that mother’s shoes, she was afraid why a stranger knew who her child was.

Forget to do headcounts

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I can’t stress enough how important this is. I have heard horror stories of early childhood educators that forgot to do headcounts, and they have forgotten a child outside during outdoor play. Make a habit of constantly doing headcounts and making sure you know where all the children are at all times. A good idea to do as well is writing down how many children you have and when children leave to get picked up updating how many children you have. You can get a small whiteboard and have it visible in the classroom. The children’s safety is so important and in addition, when ministry comes they may ask you how many children you have. You want to be on the ball and know right away.

Yell at a child if they have had an accident

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I have witnessed educators get mad and yell at children when they have had an accident. Of course, you want to avoid children having accidents, and you will do your best to make sure this doesn’t happen, but the reality is that sometimes it is going to happen. It is important that you don’t yell at a child or get upset. The child most likely didn’t do it on purpose and may also be in the process of being potty-trained, so they are still learning.

Remind the child to tell the teacher that they need to use the washroom and that they should do pee in the potty and not in their pants. Yelling at a child for having an accident is unnecessary. When being an early childhood educator you want to use a calm and warm voice. Of course, when a child is doing something wrong you want to be firm and use a more commanding voice but yelling at a child for having an accident makes them feel like they have done something wrong.

Only tell the parent that their child has had “a good day”

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A mistake that you can do as an early childhood educator is when a parent is picking up their child you only tell the parent that their child has had “a good day.” Even if the place you work at uses a childcare software where they can see what their child has done throughout the day it is still important to elaborate with the parents. For example, maybe the child got into an altercation with another child.

Or maybe the child achieved a developmental milestone that you want to share. Parents will appreciate you sharing things that are important. With childcare softwares you are also able to communicate and message parents, but it is always good to communicate things verbally. You will be able to see the parent’s reaction and the excitement and smile on their face when you share positive news with them.

Don’t provide enough materials for an activity

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Yes, every child might not be interested to do the activity you are planning to do. But, you should still always provide enough materials for every child. It would be unfortunate if a child was interested in doing an activity, and they weren’t able to do it because you didn’t provide enough materials.

This will make the child feel left out, and you want to avoid that happening. Children want to feel like they belong and this is important in regard to How Does Learning Happen as it is one of the foundations of learning. The four foundations are belonging, engagement, self-expression, and well-being. So, always remember to provide enough materials for all the children that you have in your classroom.

Tell a girl she can’t play with trucks or tell a boy he can’t play with dolls

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As early childhood educators, yes we instruct children on how to use and do things, and we educate them. We are telling them right from wrong but a time when we shouldn’t be interfering is when it comes to what activities they want to do. What I mean by this is that we shouldn’t tell a child that they can’t play with certain toys.

For example, if a girl wants to play with trucks or a boy wants to play with dolls you shouldn’t be instructing them that certain toys are only for certain genders. Children should be able to express themselves how they choose. So, if a girl wants to play with trucks or if a boy wants to play with dolls then it shouldn’t be an issue. Eliminating gender norms and teaching children about this at a young age is important.

Settle for an underpaid job or place you are unsatisfied with

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As an early childhood educator, it is important that you get the pay you deserve. Some businesses will try to underpay you, and you shouldn’t settle for that. Of course, a higher wage will depend on factors such as education, experience, and work performance. As well, sometimes you may need to earn the higher wage that you want. An employer telling you that there are opportunities for wage increases also motivates you to work even harder.

But when a business is underpaying you and there are no opportunities for growth or wage increase, and you are working hard and not satisfied that is when it is time to search for better employment. The roles and responsibilities of an early childhood educator are lengthy and being recognized for hard work is important. So when an employer takes the time to recognize that hard work and then reward it, it is greatly appreciated. A positive work environment is also important for your happiness and mental wellbeing. You want to go into work enjoying the place you work at and the people you work with.

Leave a child unattended on a changing table

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This is such an important thing to remember if you are working with infants and toddlers. Children should never be left unattended when they are on a changing table. You want to make sure your full attention is on the child. Make sure you prepare everything you need ahead of time.

For example, have your genie (if your center uses one) out, the child’s basket with their diapers and diaper rash cream, and gloves ready. It is easier to have everything ready so then all your focus is on the child. If you do have to grab something make sure to have one hand on the child to avoid the child falling. It is always better to be safe than sorry.

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