Childcare careers are under paid

I remember being at school and being told to fill in the forms for the course I wanted to do at college. What did I choose? Childcare. Why? I have no idea.

Childcare had never been on my radar. I was good with my niece but that is the most I had thought about it. Growing up I wanted to be a Marine Biologist or a Palaeontologist, I never once thought of childcare. My town didn’t have many options. Most others seemed to be doing childcare, media studies and beauty. I loved the thought of media studies, though I thought it would be hard to get on the career ladder afterwards.

Childcare was a last minute decision that I chose to put onto the form. Then that set the course for the rest of my life.

For the course I was on, I was at college for a week and then on placement for a week etc etc. If it wasn’t for the week on placement, I would have quit the course. I was bored out of my mind! I learnt so much more by being hands on and involved with the practical side. If I had known about apprenticeships I would have chosen to do that.

After college I was lucky to find a job in childcare, working in a nursery mainly with 3-4 year olds, though it is also 2-11 year olds. I loved my job, I still love my job…at times.

I believe some people think all we do is sit and play. I WISH we had the TIME to sit and play. We are expected to do just that, as children learn through play. We know this, I learn from ‘play’, practical, hands on tasks, so it makes sense that this is how children learn.

We are expected to take observations on what the children are doing or saying for us to then link to the EYFS, which is the document we follow and look at to see if the children are where we would like them to be. Do you know how hard it is to do one observation? We do not get the time to write them down! You see or hear a child doing something which you would like to write down but on your way to doing this you have one runny nose, a wet accident, a child who has hurt themselves, a phone call, etc etc. By the time you reach the paper, or even the post it notes in your pocket, you have forgotten most of what you were going to write down.

We do reports, parents evenings, planning, observations, evaluations, Individual learning plans to make sure we are meeting individual needs and a lot more just as teachers do for older children. We have to take this home as we do not get time at work to do it without leaving the children to their own devices or there not being the right staff:child ratios. We do not get paid extra for taking the work home. Half of my Sunday is taken up with planning and I write up observations during the evenings. Each child needs individual attention to make sure their needs are being met, you doubt yourself as if you are meeting those needs and then you reassure yourself that you are doing your best with the amount of children in your care.

At the setting I work at we eat our lunch with the children. Do you know how hard it is to make sure the 7 children sitting on your table are eating enough food, not making a mess, using a knife and fork while all at the same time you’re trying to eat yours? If you’re a parent you understand how hard it is to make sure your children eat their meals, though I am sure you do not all have 7 children to do this for.

We are lucky if we get a full 30 minute break for a 10 hour shift due to a child having an accident or a parent wanting to talk to us.

Childcare is so hard that I wish I could just sit and play. We are with the children all of the time. I am not sure if it is the same for every school, though for the one I work in, the older the year groups the more variety of lessons they have such as music and PE, in which case their teacher has a little free time to do some marking, planning or time to make resources. We do those subjects too though we are still with them. We teach those ourselves.

We are not ‘qualified’ teachers and yet we do teach them. We teach them letter sounds, numbers, shapes, language skills, how to be kind, how to share, how to use the toilet and wash their hands properly afterwards. Do you not think they are important skills to have?  We also help parents, as some like a little extra information on what they can do to help their child at home.

Childcare is a demanding job, If I didn’t carry a bottle of water around with me then I would never have a drink during the day. I know teachers wages are not great, though they are atleast double to what those in childcare receive and I do not understand why. Yes, they may have more marking to do, though we also do a lot of paperwork and we do not leave the children at all.

I could work in Tesco, be on more wages and not take any work home with me. I am not saying their work is not hard, I just feel childcare needs to be looked at because we are helping the future and yet we are rewarded poorly in return.

I feel I do not have the skills to go onto another career without going back to college, which I do not have the money for.

If it was not for the children themselves, then I believe I would have left a long time ago. I feel stuck now and have no idea what to do. I cannot afford to buy a house, a car or even a holiday. How did I choose this life for myself? All I want to do is travel the world but with what money? I’m a saver!

Children are amazing, to them, anything is possible and I want to believe in that myself.

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