Saturday, August 29, 2015

Surviving Your First Year Working With Children

So you have decided to work with children.  Some people would say you’re crazy.  Other people would say you’re stupid.  Some would say both!!  I would say you are amazing, special, and very very brave!!!!  I also work with children for a living and I would say I am definitely all of the above!  I’ve been working with children for over a decade and starting out was not easy.  Not in the slightest.  I still have days where I’m not sure what I am doing.  Most people that work with children would agree that if you can make it through your first year, you might just get the hang of this. Below are some tips for surviving your first year working with children.  I wish someone would have given me this list when I had just started.  It would have saved me a lot of headache, heartache, illness, embarrassment, and sleepless nights for sure.

Give yourself a bedtime and stick to it!  Bedtime is not just for the kiddos.  Getting a good night’s sleep is essential for you to be at your best each day.  A good sleep schedule will also boost your immune system.  This seems like it wouldn’t be that big of a deal, but trust me it is.  I have never been more tired in my life than when I first started working with kids for a living.  It is absolutely exhausting.  It’s like a tired you feel down in the very depths of your bones.  If you work with kids, you know what I’m talking about!!
***Note to parents--sorry we can’t stay up until 2:00 grading papers and then get back up at 6:00 to get ready for work--we just can’t.

Start the vitamin C early.  As soon as you know you want to work with kids, start popping the C. Apples, oranges, vitamin C tablets. Something! Those kids are walking germs.  The first year I started working with children I got two stomach bugs, bronchitis, the flu, and strep throat twice.  Not. Fun.  Work vitamin C into your diet and keep some lysol in your desk.  This plus good sleeping habits will set you up to be as healthy as possible!!!  I now sanitize the hand sanitizer.  Seriously.
***Note to parents---the smell of oranges and lysol is comforting, right???

Be proactive with parents.  This is a big that can save you a lot of headaches in the long run. Let’s put this in the “I learned this one the hard way” column.  It is so much easier if you reach out to parents in a positive way from the get go.  They will be more receptive to situations that may come up later with their child if you are communicating regularly with them in a positive way.  Don’t just communicate when there is a problem.  Having parents on your side is huge and makes things so much easier!!  Also regular communication with parents is key.  With so many online resources now (remind, google classroom, school websites, facebook) communication is right at your fingertips all the time!
***Note to parents---if your child’s teacher sets up a way for you to communicate (remind, facebook, etc…..) take advantage of it!!!!! Or not, just don’t complain when you don’t have the info.

Use social media with caution. Extreme caution.  Set all of your social media accounts to private.  Absolutely under no circumstances, should you ever interact with students on your personal social media accounts. NO EXCEPTIONS. Unless you would like to be fired. Be very careful about interacting with their parents on your personal social media accounts as well.  Start deleting all of those college photos.  You know the ones I’m talking about.  If you would like to use social media to communicate with parents or kids, make sure you set up a class page or daycare page, etc…..and monitor it closely.
***Note to parents---class social media pages can be a great communication tool!!! Really!

Be consistent.   When setting up rules for your child care or classroom, make sure they are appropriate for the age group and then stick to them!! The kids will know what the limits are and they will know that the consequences will be the same for them and for other students that break the rules.  Consistency is what creates discipline and order.
***Note to parents---please give your child’s teacher/care taker the benefit of the doubt. They are with your child all day and see behaviors that you may not see at home. Yes, your angel is not always an angel.

Ask for help.  You are new at this.  You don’t have it all figured out and that’s ok.  Ask veteran teachers to help you with class rules and discipline procedures.  Ask them to come and observe you with the kids.  They are a wealth of knowledge, so use them!!
***Note to parents---yes they are new, but they still are trained, degreed professionals. Don’t you remember what it was like on your first day at a job? Well the first year of working with children is like one long ass first day. Barring anything crazy, give 'em a break!

Working with children is incredibly rewarding. It’s hard, exhausting, frustrating, and totally totally worth it.  Hang in there.  You’ll get it!

***Amelia Jane***

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