We spoke to primary school teacher Lindsey, who teaches children aged 4-5 years old in a school near Gravesend, Kent. In her five years of teaching, she has been faced with some challenging scenarios. Here, we spoke to her about some of them and how she would deal with them:

What to do when...a child is upset about being left by their parent

It’s completely normal for young children to feel anxious when they say goodbye to mum or dad. This is called separation anxiety and can often start before a child’s first birthday and can last until the child is 4 years old.

Lindsey says: “If a child is upset after being dropped off by a parent, I’d normally try to entice the child with a ‘special job’ that needs doing in an effort to distract them from their anxiety. I say: ‘Come with me, I’ve got a really special job for you to do!’ or ‘Oh look, a toy dog!’ and I’ll bring them a toy over and ask the child to show the toy our routine at school. This normally helps them settle down quite quickly as they have a role to play.”

What to do when...a child is behaving badly

Frustrating as it might be, it’s quite common for pre-schoolers to test guidelines and expectations set down by adults. A child displaying challenging behaviour can put pressure on even the most patient of people, so reinforcing the merits of positive behaviour is key:

Lindsey says: “All the children get a good behaviour sticker in their book, which we share with parents every week. If children aren’t playing together nicely or if a child behaves badly, we have a ‘Good to be Green’ system in place.

“So, the first time a child misbehaves, they get a reminder. Then, they get a warning followed by a yellow card. Sometimes, as a last resort, we would threaten to take away their sticker and say “What a shame it is that you’re going to lose your sticker for not behaving well.”

What to do when...a child refuses to eat their food

Some pre-schoolers can be very strong willed when it comes to their food choices. What’s more, because young children go through rapid stages of growth, it’s quite usual for them to be really hungry one day and picky the next. So, what do you do when a child pushes their plate away?

Lindsey says: “In the past, I’ve been involved with cutting up dinner for the children and taking food to them. If they refuse to eat their food, it can be challenging, but in this scenario I’d split the food in half and then say “You have to eat one half of the food, which one do you want to choose?” This empowers the child and gives them back a choice. Then I sit with them until they’ve finished.”

What to do when...there is a poo-related incident

Most parents tend to start potty training when their child is between 2 and 3 years old. Working with young children, however, can be unpredictable and accidents do happen even once the child is potty trained. So, be prepared for this eventuality...and stay calm!

Lindsey recalls: “We were doing a whole class activity, and one of children came over to let me know there was something on the floor. I wasn’t sure what it was, so I went over...and unknowingly picked it up. That’s when I realised - it turned out to be a poo!”

“Even though I was slightly panicked, I stayed calm for the sake of the children and tried not to make a fuss. I quickly disposed of the poo in the nearest toilet!”

Developing your career

Once you have a job in childcare, there are plenty of opportunities to develop your career further. Parenta offer apprenticeships, which are a great way to learn as you earn. The best thing is, if you’re aged 16-18, there’s lots of funding available, so chances are you won’t have to pay a penny.

And finally...

Remember, Parenta are here to help make your journey into a childcare career easier. If you have any questions about starting a childcare apprenticeship after school you can call 0800 002 9242 or email contact@parenta.com

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