There is a lot of difference between working with children and working with adults. Working with little kids is always way different than working with older kids. If you have made the choice of working with children (whether you want to be an educator, find your calling at a specialist school – like a cerebral palsy school, work in human services, or are an entertainer). Below are the five skills you are going to need.
This has been listed as the first one because it is going to be the most important. Always keep in mind that a child is not an adult. They have a different way of processing things compared to adults, and it can be frustrating to bridge the gap between what you know and what they understand. There are some instances when you will be forced to keep repeating yourself. You will be fighting for their attention because they can be easily distracted. You will need to have a lot of patience so you don’t end up frustrated.
2. The ability to Hide Annoyance and Frustration
Kids are good when it comes to picking up a slight shift in demeanour. You need to know how to hide your frustration, tiredness, etc. This doesn’t mean you have to always be happy, and it is also okay to let the kid know that you are not happy with how they have behaved. When you start to groan because they want you to read them a book for the twelfth time, you can leave them feeling demoralised. You should try hiding your frustration, boredom and exhaustion.
3. Keeping Calm During an Emergency
When adults freak out, kids do the same. This can make the situation worse than it is. It is important for you to keep your cool when things go wrong – even if everything around you is chaotic and your heart is pounding. When working with children – especially if it is a group – a calm presence is important even if it feels like everything is overwhelming. The kids are going to look at you to see your response and how you deal with things.
There are adults who usually think they have to “dumb down” what they want to say before sharing with kids. This is not a good idea because it is a misconception many people have. You need to know the difference between “dumbing down” and using examples kids are able to relate the ideas with more easily. Kids tend to learn using stories and examples, which is why you need to know how to relate what you are teaching with situations they are able to relate to.
If you want to succeed in working with children, then you have to enjoy and like spending time with them. When you are uncomfortable, kids are going to know and they will try their best to exploit the discomfort. You need to be enthusiastic about what you want to teach them. You will have a harder time teaching kids about anything when all they can see on your face is a frown.
The above are the five skills that will come in handy when working with children. There are other technical skills, but they will fall under one of the above traits.