I have chosen to complete my work placement in a playschool setting as I believe it will encourage my development as a childcare practitioner. There’s many different beliefs and values which are relevant for working in this area which I will highlight and discuss in detail throughout this essay. I will include beliefs and values which impact the child, parent and the practitioners themselves. There are many skills and abilities that are required for practice, throughout placement I would like to develop the skills I already have but also learn some new ones such as organisational skills. In my opinion engaging in reflective practice can be very beneficial as we can reveal what skills and abilities that need improvement and develop new skills which are essential for childcare practice. Reflection can also allow us to pinpoint an area of interest, for example, choosing a childcare setting that follows the philosophy which you value and believe.
Beliefs and Values
There are many different beliefs and values which are considered relevant for working in a childcare setting. These beliefs and values impact not only the child but also the parents and the practitioners. I am going to discuss the beliefs and values which I believe to be of major importance when working in a childcare setting.
To begin, I will discuss my beliefs and values for the children in a childcare setting such as a playschool. I believe children are educated greatly through play. In my eyes children have a right to play and the United Nations agree with me as they state, ‘States Parties recognize the right of the child to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts’ (The United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child, 2010). Play is essential in the development of a child’s emotional and cognitive development. Imaginary play also known as ‘messy play’ is essential for children’s cognitive development as they build creative and innovative skills in order to ‘transform objects and action symbolically’ (Gmitrova & al, 2003). Their emotions are developed by playing and interacting with children of the same age, as they learn to express feelings and to control them.
The beliefs and values which I believe are essential when dealing with the parents of a child in any setting is being a good communicator. Having good communication skills is essential for a childcare practitioner as they must discuss the child’s development with their parents. The parent is seen as the primary educator, “The Constitution acknowledges that the primary and natural educator of the child is the family” (Ready to Learn, 1999, p. 11). Having effective communication between the childcare practitioner and the parents allows a trustful relationship to form. This can be particularly useful if the practitioner must discuss a difficult topic with the parents such as delayed learning problems. The relationship must be based on trust, although the practitioner must follow confidentiality policies. ‘Practitioners need to respect the confidentiality of information they receive about children, while understanding that confidentiality cannot be guaranteed for example in cases involving child protection issues’ (Aistear, 2009, p. 7).
There are many beliefs and values which I believe are essential for practitioners of childcare settings to follow. Practitioners should respect the children they are working with and treat them as equals. As young children as not always able to express opinions, it’s the childcare practitioner’s responsibility to voice them in order to ensure they are treated as equals in society. In 1992, the United Nations Convention stated that ‘the child’s views must be considered and taken into account in all matters affecting him or her’ (The United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child, 2010). This Convention helps to protect children and ensure they are threat equally and with respect, I believe all childcare practitioners have a responsibility to follow this principle.
Skills and Abilities
Throughout my work placement I will implement many skills and abilities which I have already obtain and I will develop some new ones which will be useful when working in a childcare setting. Childcare practitioners require skills such as team- work skills, organisational skills and creativity in order to provide effective learning and development for the children.
Team-work skills are particularly important for a childcare practitioner to obtain as they will often have to work with several people, children, their parents and fellow co-workers. It is important when working with others to be patient and understanding particularly of their values. For example, a child may have different cultural beliefs and therefore it may be essential to work with their parents to ensure the child has alternative arrangements made which will give them a conclusive experience in conjunction with their cultural beliefs. ‘Understanding that children have individual needs, views, cultures and beliefs, which need to be treated with respect and represented throughout the early childhood services’ (Affairs, 2016). Therefore, it is clear to me that team-work skills are a prominent aspect of working in childcare setting. This skill ensures that all individuals, including children, parents and practitioners needs and wants met most of the time.
Next, I will discuss how organisational skills are very beneficial in a childcare setting such as a playschool or creche. Childcare practitioners must obtain the skill of being organised, working with young children can be difficult and I believe being organised is a great way to make things run a little smoother. Having good time-management is a large part of being organisation, it can be used to plan the timetable for the day, for example, what time lunch time will be. Co- workers often rely of fellow practitioners to be punctual. Many childcare settings are open from 7am to 7pm, therefore shift work is very common. ‘It is important you are on time so that you can relieve other members of staff, and you need to be prompt to make sure you don’t disrupt the work of the centre’ (Scott, 2008). It’s clear that organisational skills are required for practice, this skill is essential for the smooth running of a childcare setting.
The ability to be creative and innovative is important when working with young children. According to Piaget, children’s cognition is developed greatly through creativity and imaginary play (Mills, 2014). Creating tasks or games for children to explore in a playschool, creche or Montessori allows further development of their cognition. Imaginary play which is also known as ‘messy play’ is commonly used in a childcare setting as children can develop their imagination and socialisation skills. The practitioner must be able to make these tasks creative and exciting to keep the children’s focus as they have a short attention span at a young age. Being creative is an essential skill for a practitioner to have as they will encourage children to grow and develop their cognitive stage through multiple activities.
Importance of Reflective Practice
In my opinion, reflection is very important for a childcare practitioner. Reflection has many benefits; it can highlight the aspects of your practice which may need to be modified such as develop or improve skills, it can also help pinpoint a specific area of interest for the practitioner, for example, which philosopher’s approach they would like to work under.
I will discuss how reflective practice can be beneficial for a childcare practitioner. Reflective practice is a great way of identifying the aspects of practice which need to be modified as you can look back on the events of the previous day. Perhaps, a childcare practitioner needs to develop or improve certain skills such as communication or interaction skills. These skills can be highlighted through reflective practice. The Victorian Framework outlines that ‘Early Childhood practitioners continually develop their professional knowledge and skills to enable them to provide the best possible learning and development opportunities for all children’ (Malbina, 2009). There are certain skills which are essential when working with children as I have outlined in the above paragraphs. Skills such as communication and teamwork skills can be a major asset to a practitioner as these help a practitioner to create secure relationships with children, parents and co-workers.
Using reflective practice can also help a childcare practitioner to pinpoint an area of interest. There are many different approaches that childcare settings follow, they are often guided by the philosophies of theorists such as Freobel and Montessori. Freobel believed that children learn best when playing outdoors as this helps develop high levels of learning and helps children to connect with the environment. ‘Kinder garden can be translated as either ‘child’s garden’ or ‘children of garden’. Both meanings were used by Freobel and reflect his philosophy about young children’ (How Children Learn, 2008). Forest schools would often be guided by Freobel’s apporch. Montessori’s philosophy is another approach used by childcare settings which involved organised play. Maria Montessori believed in a more structured educational programme, where children’s day to day learning is based on practical life. ‘Guided play often involves speciﬁc toys with which a child can interact to gain knowledge’ (How Children Learn, 2008). Montessori schools are very common in Ireland as they follow the structured educational programme which many parents believe can be beneficial for their children before entering primary school. I believe reflective practice during work placement can allow a childcare practitioner to decide which philosophy they would like to work under in the future.
In conclusion I must say that I have chosen to complete my work placement in a setting which will help me develop as a childcare practitioner. I will complete my placement in setting where all individual’s beliefs and values are respects and followed, this is particularly important when working in a childcare setting to ensure all children learn and develop in a equal and secure setting. In my opinion, work placement will beneficial to be as I will use the skills and abilities which I already possess and I will develop new ones and as a result I will be able to use these skills to the best of my ability in the future as a childcare practitioner. I have also expressed the importance of reflective practice for childcare practitioners. Reflective practice is essential for all workers in order to improve their interaction and work with young children, it can also allow each worker to choose a philosophy which they value to work under. I trust that where you complete your work placement can have a major impact on your future as a childcare practitioner as it can be an eye-opening experience.
- Affairs, D. o. (2016). DIversIty, EqualIty AND InclusIon Charte: GuIdelInes for Early ChIldhood Care AND EducatIon. Dublin: Government Publications.
- Aistear. (2009). The Early Childhood Curriculum Framework. Aistear.
- Gmitrova, V., & al, e. (2003). The Impact of Teacher-Directed and Child-Directed Pretend Play on Cognitive Competence in Kindergarten Childre. Early Childhood Education Journal, Vol. 30, 241.
- How Children Learn. (2008). London: Step Forward Publishing.
- Malbina, L. (2009). Vicotrian Early Years Learning an Development Framework. Department of Education.
- Mills, H. (2014). The importance of creative arts in early childhood classrooms. Retrieved from Childcare Quarterly: https://www.childcarequarterly.com
- Scott, F. (2008). Working in an early education and childcare setting. In Pearson Education Limited (p. 6). Pearson Education Limited.
- The United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child. (2010, June). Retrieved from Children's Rights: https://www.childrensrights.ie
- The White Paper: Ready to Learn. (19991). Dublin: The Stationary Office.