Work and play: a day in the life of a childhood educator

Work and play: a day in the life of a childhood educator

Thinking of a career in early childhood care but not sure exactly what it involves? Former Chisholm student James Robinson gives us an hour-by-hour run down.


Lots of people would love to work with kids - but what is it really like to be an early childhood educator?

Like most educators, former Chisholm student James Robinson decided to study Early Childhood Education based on a love of children fostered through interactions at family gatherings and parties. He now works with four to five year olds at the Bunyip Childcare Centre, an hour’s drive east of Melbourne.

From hearing kids’ stories and making playdough to cleaning up and completing documentation, here’s what a typical early childhood educator day looks like for James.


James’s centre opens at 6.30am, and he starts at 10.30am.

“My favourite time of day is when I come in in the mornings; the kids rush over and want to talk about whatever's happened or show you things and they’re excited,” he says. “It's a good way to start a day.”

James arrives when the kids are enjoying free play. He first runs through the morning with the supervising teacher, finding out any specific information about the kids including messages from parents.


Before lunch, James gives the children reminders to prepare them for a change in pace. The kids serve themselves lunch, and afterwards, help clean up. “Sometimes things do take a long time, because you're going at their pace and doing what they're comfortable with,” says James. “Some children are quicker than others and some take a lot more reminding and a higher level of encouragement to get things done”.


After lunch, there’s an experiential focus to the activities, with exercises like show and tell, making playdough, or group reading. Documentation and observation are also a big part of James’s day. He uses an iPad and online app to communicate with parents.

“While they are interacting with the play-based learning, I’m doing a mix of observing and documenting, helping resolve disagreements, tending to the occasional injury, helping with some toileting, organising future experiences or play spaces, and filling out daily documentation,” James says.


After playtime, afternoon tea follows the same routine as lunch. “Some of the children are getting ready for school, so it’s important to have lot of structure and routine in their day,” he says.

James documents how much the kids eat and ensures children with allergies are catered for. “After 3pm the children start to get picked up, so you talk to parents about their day briefly, mentioning highlights and anything that was out of the norm,” explains James.

If there have been any accidents, forms need to be signed by parents. During this time, the children play, and James gradually tidies up with the children’s help.


As kids are picked up and numbers dwindle in the late afternoon, different rooms combine into a “Family Grouping”. This allows the other rooms to be packed up, cleaned and set up for the next day.


As the day comes to an end, James and another educator are responsible for closing the centre, including checking all children are signed out.

“At the end of the day I feel like I’ve been hard at work, but it’s a positive feeling”, he says. “I know the children have always had fun and been looked after, and that gives me a sense of achievement”.