Daycare Educators: Undervalued and Overlooked

I have been working as a daycare technician for a couple of years now. I don’t like to single anyone out who works for me, yet I feel the women who do work in this business need to be told every once in a while how great they are at what they do. Those women know who they are – they’re the ones smiling at work, the ones who worry about the children in their care. They’re the ones who don’t think of it as a job but as more of a passion, a great desire to have a positive impact on the children’s lives.

Working as a lunch supervisor, as an example, is not an easy task and requires you to be patient, practical and innovative. And, you must have a wicked sense of humor. Imagine yourself going to work every day for one hour. You’re busy at home doing the things you do and then all of sudden you look at the clock and leap to your feet. Out the door you go, off to work, gathering all your paraphernalia, books, paper, markers, games and treats! Oh, the treats the children get from their lunch supervisors! You gather up your goodies, out of breath from trying to get all the things you tried to get done at home so your own children don’t feel neglected, and run to your class. The children swarm upon you like locusts. They, of course, have a million questions, and those questions come firing out of their mouths like machine-gun bursts. You dodge every ‘bullet’ with your smile and your calm demeanor as you hand out hot lunches and Band-Aids while breaking up arguments between the girls in the back row. You stop fights amongst the boys in the schoolyard. You blow whistles that the children often never hear as you tear your hair out because of some issue or another that is going on in your room.

Then there are bosses and peers you have to deal with, who may or may not be on the ball (another reason you tear your hair out). You organize events and find new and exciting ways to teach the children in your class those little life lessons that perhaps the teachers and parents don’t have time to teach anymore. You inspire young minds with stories and ideas and information that may not be on the curriculum. You work at starting newspapers, girls’ clubs, sports clubs and art clubs, giving the children opportunities to grow and find themselves in a freer, less restrictive setting.

You are a lunch supervisor and your job is rewarding. You are adored and I thank you for all of your hard work, for your dedication, for your love of children and how they feel in a place that is, after all, an institution. I thank you for making it more like home, a place where our children feel happy and safe. Where they’re free to discover, to inquire and to learn new things each day as you show up out of breath and panting, just making it ahead of the bell, ready to greet your class with a smile and hugs.

If you can't laugh at yourself then, well...

And what of our daycare educators? Those women who put in hour upon hour, morning, noon and night. The women who have the gift, like horse whisperers. Some of our daycare educators seem to have an almost spiritual connection, if you will, to the children. They know when something is wrong with a child. They sense things about the children in their care. They build strong and meaningful relationships with all of the children, and the children are attached and happy to have someone who cares about them. These educators work so hard and are never given their due. They spend countless hours with each of the children in daycare, working with them on projects, helping them with homework and teaching them new things. Our daycare educators see everything firsthand. They watch the children grow, starting in pre-kindergarten and up to that moment when they leave, spreading their wings and discovering new horizons. Along the way you can bet there were some very special daycare educators who were a part of that child’s life, who sat with them when their mom or dad were late during a snowstorm, reassuring them that the traffic must be very bad and that their parents would arrive soon. Educators who were brave enough and strong enough to stick to their guns and not give up on even the toughest child in the group, who managed to instill a sense of responsibility and real autonomy in that child. Who danced and sang and wore funny costumes, because if you can’t laugh at yourself then, well, you’re not going to be able to laugh at anything.

The daycares in our schools are places where ideas are born, where strangers become families and where our children receive constant care from seven in the morning until six at night. Without educators with real compassion and with real passion for this job, our children would be the ones who would lose. Fortunately, we do have very special people who work in our school daycares and I want to thank them for all of their hard work, for the hours they put in and for all of the extra hours they put in without asking for anything. They do what they do because they love it, because it’s rewarding and fun and because to them, each child in their care is special.


Photo Credit

Photo courtesy of Martha Farley – all rights reserved