So you want to start making a difference with children but you’re still not exactly sure Early Childhood Education and Care is the right industry for you.
How do you find out if you’re going to like working with children all day? We have the solution to being able to work with children, gain extra experience in your field and learn about the industry before you take the plunge into study.
Volunteering is not only a good way to give back to your community but allows you to get a sense of the everyday tasks and gives you the secrets and tips of an Early Childhood Educator. (You will also have to do similar tasks in your Work Placement training if you decide to study a Certificate III or Diploma in Early Childhood Education and Care).
Staff are generally very busy, so to be a successful volunteer you should be independent, proactive, and flexible because staff will not often have time to assist and instruct, again you are self-marketing all qualities that employers look for.
Volunteers who perform well may have the chance of gaining letters of Reference which always come in handy and will give you better chances to find a job when applying, and you will have the perfect centre to complete your work placement if you decide to complete your studies and become an Early Childhood educator.
What do you do as a volunteer?
- Connecting to and working with children (grouped by age, you will probably be put with older children)
- assisting children with activities and on field trips that include city transit (buses and/or trams)
- cleaning, program preparation, light snack preparation, and light administrative duties
If you dedicate your time and energy at a centre you will play an important part in making a difference in the lives of children. You will need to work hard, but if you like interacting with children, want to be a part of their growth and guide them as they learn you will be greatly appreciated.
What will you need to be a volunteer?
There are some small things you should do before you apply to do any sort of volunteer work. These will not only give you the upper hand on any other applicants, they will also give you a head start in any study that you want to do to gain your qualification in Early Childhood Education.
Short courses are a great way to gain accreditation and employability skills in specific skill areas, with little investment of time. Short courses are fantastic learning experiences are exactly what they sound like: very short classes that teach you concentrated lessons for industry-specific tasks. Colleges like Enable College focus on the courses you take could help you in everything from teaching primary school to helping children with a graze. Each short course takes only one or two days and teach you valuable knowledge and job skills that will impress your employer and enhance your work performance.
If you’re going to be working in an environment with dependant individuals, this certificate is a MUST HAVE. Even if you are only volunteering for a job, this will make you stand out over any other candidate.
If you’re going to work in an environment filled with children in South Australia you will also need to have your Child Safe Environments qualification. This enables you to see and report signs of possible child abuse and neglect and to find out what could be done to support children and families.
Police clearance and/or DCSI screening
Police Checks identify and release relevant criminal history information relating to convictions, findings of guilt or pending court proceedings. However, due to spent conviction/non-disclosure legislation and information release policies, there are limitations on the information a Police Check can provide (e.g., the Spent Convictions Scheme stipulates that prior convictions are not to be disclosed where 10 years have passed from the date of the conviction).
Child-related employment screening or DCSI is required to assess whether a potential employee or volunteer could pose a risk to the safety of children, while working for an organisation offering these services:
- child and family welfare
- sporting or recreational
- religious or spiritual instruction
- child care and child protection
I guess the last thing you're wondering now is, after doing all of this how are you meant to get a volunteer position in a child care centre or OSCH. Well, I have the secret.... GO IN AND ASK!
Go into any child care centre near your home and hand in your resume, have a chat with the director and ask if they have space for a volunteer. Hopefully with the tips we gave you above and your passion for the industry will have done all the work for you.
Still not sure if it's the right career for you? Click Here to talk to one of our advisers and see what additional information they can give you!