As an Early Childhood Educator, you have likely heard the term ‘soft skills’ mentioned before. Soft skills are abilities or qualities that are not easily measurable, such as communication and problem-solving. These skills are essential for successful interactions with children and colleagues and smooth running in an early learning setting. Developing soft skills can be challenging – however, it is important to recognise their importance and to create an environment in which they can be nurtured.
A compassionate and caring world is better for everyone, and a renewed focus on soft skills like communication, kindness, compassion and patience can help pave the way. This blog post discusses the soft skills Early Childhood Educators would benefit from having.
1. Active Listening
We all do listening hundreds if not thousands of times a day but is increasingly difficult in a world of technology, 30 children rooms and a busy life. An active listener will show attention to the speaker with their eyes and ears. By maintaining a visual connection with the person speaking to you, you can assess further what is being said by looking at body language.
Listening to someone when they talk to you is also basic human respect. For this reason, it is important to refrain from interrupting the person speaking until they have finished. If you are unsure what is being said exactly, please feel free to rephrase what they say in your own words or ask a question to clarify.
2. Emotional intelligence
Emotional intelligence is a broad term comprising self-regulation, self-awareness, motivation, social skills and empathy. These areas contribute greatly to employability and the ability to succeed in (and out) the workplace. Emotional intelligence is about making the right behavioural choices in various contexts.
Whether communicating with children, parents or other early childhood professionals, communication skills can play a key role in career success. Often, listening and responding with empathy can make the difference between a good and a great communicator.
4. Cultural competence
We all come from various backgrounds and cultures, and cultural competence can understand and educate across these. Early childhood education involves working with children and families with different cultural backgrounds and demographics, so cultural competence is important.
5. Conflict Resolution
Develop by guiding on identifying and defusing conflicts using problem-solving methods.
Another key talent to develop as a childcare professional is the capacity to make informed decisions and assess many factors of decisions. A childcare instructor can encounter several scenarios where they should act quickly and make a decision to solve an issue for the child. There may also be multiple people and scenarios, so they should possess excellent decision-making skills to make the best choice without affecting anyone. Daily, these professionals make several decisions, such as what subject to teach, what activities to choose, how to prepare for learning differences and many other choices that influence how they approach their tasks. Additionally, childcare professionals must be able to make excellent selections and quick decisions in emergencies (such as when a kid injures themselves).
7. Flexibility and Patience
You may plan a perfect day of learning but remember that everything can be derailed by your students (regularly). Teachers need to be able to pivot when circumstances call for it without bursting and showing emotions unnecessarily.
8. Passionate, authentic and love learning
You will need to have a love of teaching but also a love of learning. Children will respond well to someone passionate about teaching and helping them learn. Strong dedication and devotion to your work will lead to great learning outcomes for children.
9. Creativity and being energetic
The key to being a quality educator is thinking outside the box to develop and deliver great learning outcomes for all children in your care. This is important as you must develop skills to engage children and families in several ways. An energetic and creative teacher or educator will help children stay positive about learning every day. Learning should always be fun, and laughter can often help children learn.
Childcare skills and abilities entail more than simply looking after children, you must also observe how they are progressing with the activities. Some examples are finding if the child is having difficulty communicating with other children, showing interest in the activities, or whether they are experiencing trouble with the activities requiring assistance.
Developing soft skills should be a priority for early childhood educators. Each of these soft skills in the workplace can provide children with high-quality early childhood education and a fulfilling career as an educator. Working as part of a team and building strong relationships with children and colleagues is essential for success in this role. Early Childhood Educators can develop these soft skills through in-house training, workshops and self-reflection. It’s important to create an environment where it’s safe to make mistakes and encourage learning. With the right support and resources, Educators can gain confidence and succeed.