What Childcare Workers Do

Childcare workers attend to the basic needs of children, such as dressing, bathing, feeding, and overseeing play. They may help younger children prepare for kindergarten or assist older children with homework.

What Childcare Workers Do
EDUCATIONhigh school diploma
WORK EXPERIENCENone
WORK ENVIRONMENT childcare centers, private households
STATE AREA DATAExplore resources for employment and wages by state and area for childcare workers.
ICONIC PEOPLE
COMPANIES
HIGHER STUDIES

Duties

Childcare workers typically do the following:

  • Supervise and monitor the safety of children
  • Prepare and organize mealtimes and snacks for children
  • Help children keep good hygiene
  • Change the diapers of infants and toddlers
  • Organize activities or implement a curriculum that allows children to learn about the world and explore their interests
  • Develop schedules and routines to ensure that children have enough physical activity, rest, and playtime
  • Watch for signs of emotional or developmental problems in children and bring them to the attention of their parents
  • Keep records of children’s progress, routines, and interests

Childcare workers read and play with babies and toddlers to introduce basic concepts, such as manners. For example, they teach them how to share and take turns by playing games with other children.

Childcare workers help preschool-age children prepare for kindergarten. Young children learn from playing, solving problems, questioning, and experimenting. Childcare workers use play and other instructional techniques to help children’s development. For example, they use storytelling and rhyming games to teach language and vocabulary. They may help improve children’s social skills by having them work together to build something in a sandbox. Childcare workers may teach math by having children count when building with blocks. They also involve the children in creative activities, such as art, dance, and music.

Childcare workers may watch school-age children before and after school. They often help these children with homework and may take them to after school activities, such as sports practices and club meetings.

During the summer, when children are out of school, childcare workers may watch older children as well as younger ones for the entire day while the parents are at work.

The following are examples of types of childcare workers:

Childcare center workers work in teams in childcare centers including programs that offer Head Start and Early Head Start. They often work with preschool teachers and teacher assistants to teach children through a structured curriculum. They prepare daily and long-term schedules of activities to stimulate and educate the children in their care. They also monitor and keep records of the children’s progress.

Family childcare providers care for children in the providers’ own homes during traditional working hours. They need to ensure that their homes and all staff they employ meet the regulations for family childcare providers. They perform tasks related to running their business, such as writing contracts that set rates of pay, when payment can be expected, and the number of hours children can be in care. Furthermore, they establish policies including those regarding whether sick children can be in their care, who can pick children up, and how behavioral issues will be dealt with. Family childcare providers may spend some of their time marketing their services to prospective families.

Nannies work in the homes of the children they care for and the parents that employ them. Most often, they work full time for one family. They may be responsible for driving children to school, appointments, or after school activities. Some live in the homes of the families that employ them.