Time Away from Children: Reimagining the Early Childhood Educator Work Schedule

The WeVision EarlyEd initiative provides the time and space for “proximity experts,” early childhood professionals and families closest to the child care system, to reimagine child care. In this WeVision EarlyEd space, we are all making a shared commitment to do a bit more reimagining and questioning, even as we continue navigating to survive.

One proximity expert, an early childhood educator and a parent, told us: “I don’t need to be with nobody’s baby before 9 a.m. and after 3 p.m.”

She went on to explain the intellectual, emotional, and physical weight of her work. To do her work well and be accountable for her practice, she needed time away from providing direct support for a group of infants. It was important for her to have the availability to focus on planning with colleagues, reviewing and analyzing child assessment data, connecting with families, nurturing herself, reflecting on her practice, and everything else that goes into being an educator. 

Research supports this proximity expert’s finding. Research makes it clear that the work of early childhood educators is complex and requires specialized knowledge and skills and that work environments, like paid nonchild contact time, can impact the quality and effectiveness of early childhood educators’ practice. As employers across other industries and in the education sector pivot to meet workforce trends, public funding, and policies should also create the conditions to allow early learning programs to recruit and retain competent professionals. 

Feedback from proximity experts about work schedules inspired us to probe further. Using a traveling WeVision EarlyEd conference exhibit, we asked early childhood educators (and those who support them) to describe their ideal work schedule and the most common pain points they experience.  The interactive dashboard below highlights data from more than 700 attendees of two conferences, one local and one national, and allows you to engage and break down the data by a particular role within the system. While there were some slight variations, it was clear that regardless of where people sit within the system, educators, administrators, and others are doing too many jobs with far too little pay. 

We want to hear from you! What would be your ideal work schedule? 

Complete this two-minute survey about the future of work schedules for early childhood education. We will share the results in our upcoming blog.