Some people say you should never work with young children or animals but there are plenty of others who have never looked back since making that decision to start working with children. Children are like sponges, soaking up novel experience and picking up new skills quickly. Their energy, excitement and sense of fun are infectious and they have a refreshing lack of cynicism when dealing with the world around them, helping us to recover our own youthful side.
Having said all of that, it does take a special kind of person to get the best out of children so today’s post looks at the essential and desirable skills and attributes that need to be developed before embarking on a career in working with children.
The Essential Attributes
There are countless jobs and career paths out there which involve working with children but the same three essential attributes come up in almost every advertisement: enthusiasm, reliability and the need to enjoy working with children.
Children operate at a much higher energy level than the average adult can sustain and the easier you find it to shift gear and meet them at their level the easier and more enjoyable your work life will be. To communicate effectively with young children you will need to speak with plenty of expression and supplement your words with big gestures and body movements where appropriate.
Working with children is immense fun but you also need to be a safe pair of hands. Children tend to have a blind spot when it comes to danger so those in charge of them need to be extra safety conscious and vigilant. It is also important to strike a balance between being warm and approachable and knowing when to put your foot down. If you can keep control of a group of children while remaining calm and positive you will go a long way!
Finally, it may be obvious that you have to enjoy working with children but there are some people who look at the career benefits (holidays, money, security, etc.) without really stopping to think whether they can spend every single working day with kids. If you have any doubts, a spell of work experience may be the best option.
Other Desirable Skills
If you can tick the above three boxes you are probably cut out for working with children. Nevertheless, to increase your employability any experience or qualifications you do have or can collect will be a bonus. A teaching qualification or a previous role as an activity instructor will clearly look good on your CV but even a summer job at a crèche or helping out on a school field trip is worth bringing up on an application.
Leadership, problem-solving and organisational skills are also very attractive to employers, particularly if you are looking for a career rather than a short-term job. You may not think of yourself as having these skills but dig deep into your work and personal experience and you will probably find some examples to support your application.
Opportunities with Hip Hop Tots®
If you prefer the idea of working for yourself while working with children then Hip Hop Tots® could be for you. By becoming a licensed Hip Hop Tots® Instructor, by successfully completing our one-day training course, you can build a career around your own schedule. Find out more, including upcoming dates and venues, on our ‘Become an Instructor’ page.