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Early childhood educators and assistants  (NOC 4214)
Hamilton--Niagara Peninsula Region
Description |  Titles |  Duties |   Related Occupations
Included Cities in Region | Service Canada Offices

Education and job requirements can vary by region. Workers in regulated occupations require a licence to work legally. Workers in non-regulated occupations do not require a licence, but employers may have other certification requirements.

Employment Requirements

Employment requirements are prerequisites generally needed to enter an occupation.

  • Early childhood educators
  • Completion of a two- to four-year college program in early childhood education or A bachelor's degree in child development is required.
  • Licensing by a provincial or territorial association for early childhood educators (ECE) is usually required.
  • Early childhood educator assistants
  • Completion of secondary school is required.
  • Experience in child care is required.
  • Completion of an early childhood education assistant certificate program or post-secondary courses in early childhood education may be required.
  • Licensing by a provincial or territorial association for early childhood educators (ECE) may be required.

Regulation by Province/Territory

Some provinces and territories regulate certain professions and trades while others do not. If you have a licence to work in one province, your licence may not be accepted in other provinces or territories. Consult the table below to determine in which province or territory your occupation/trade is regulated.

Table of job opportunities for your chosen occupation at the provincial or territorial level.
Location Regulation
Regulated (compulsory)
British Columbia
Regulated (compulsory)
Regulated (compulsory)
New Brunswick
Regulated (voluntary)
Newfoundland and Labrador
Regulated (compulsory)
Northwest Territories
Regulated (voluntary)
Nova Scotia
Regulated (voluntary)
Regulated (voluntary)
Regulated (compulsory)
Prince Edward Island
Regulated (voluntary)
Regulated (voluntary)
Regulated (voluntary)
Regulated (compulsory)

Education Programs

Programs in the order in which they are most likely to supply graduates to this occupation (Early childhood educators and assistants):

Essential Skills

How Essential Skills Profiles can help you!
The essential skills profiles can:
  • Help determine, based on skill sets, which career may best suit a particular individual.
  • Assist job seekers to write a résumé or prepare for a job interview.
  • Help employers to create a job posting.

Employers place a strong emphasis on essential skills in the workplace. Essential skills are used in nearly every occupation, and are seen as 'building blocks' because people build on them to learn all other skills.

Each profile contains a list of example tasks that illustrate how each of the 9 essential skill is generally performed by the majority of workers in an occupation. The estimated complexity levels for each task, between 1 (basic) and 5 (advanced), may vary based on the requirements of the workplace.

Early Childhood Educators and Assistants

Early childhood educators plan and organize activities for pre-school and school age children. Early childhood educator assistants provide care and guidance to pre-school children under the supervision of early childhood educators. Early childhood educators and assistants lead children in activities to stimulate and develop their intellectual, physical and emotional growth.

  • Read instructions and warnings on product labels, e.g. read about side effects on medication labels and instructions on cleaning product labels to ensure proper use. (1)
  • Read notes and text entries in log books, e.g. read notes and entries in daily log books for information about staff and student absences. (1)
  • Read letters and memos, e.g. read letters from parents expressing concern with children's behaviours and memos from supervisors about staff meeting agendas, speech therapists' schedules and upcoming inspections. (2)
  • Read food and warranty recall notices, e.g. read food recall notices to learn about potential exposure to hazardous products, such as improperly processed meats and cheeses. (2)
  • Read minutes of various meetings, e.g. read about the future direction of their programs and related community initiatives in minutes of boards of directors' meetings. (2)
  • Read instructional plans, e.g. read instructional plans to become familiar with curriculum topics and activities. (2)
  • Read a variety of instructions, e.g. read instructions on the proper supervision of developmental screens and assessments and the appropriate uses of results. (3)
  • Read newsletters, website articles and trade magazines, e.g. read their organization's and professional associations' newsletters to remain knowledgeable about changes, such as fee increases. (3)
  • Read policy and procedure manuals, curriculum and instruction guides, legislation and contracts, e.g. read contract clauses specifying hours of work, grievance procedures and days allocated for vacations, bereavement, maternity and family emergencies. (4)
  • May read articles in journals and textbooks, e.g. read textbooks to increase their knowledge of behavioural problems, causes, observable symptoms, intervention strategies and stages of childhood development. (5)
Document Use
  • Locate data on labels, e.g. scan labels on snacks to identify ingredients that may cause allergic reactions and locate recommended dosage amounts on prescription medications. (1)
  • Enter data in log books, e.g. enter data into log books to record the dates and times of fire drills. (1)
  • Locate information in lists and tables, e.g. scan lists for contact information, names of people authorized to pick-up children and students' ages, birthdates, emergency contacts, allergies and medications. (1)
  • Study forms to locate and verify data, e.g. review permission forms, such as field trip consent and medical treatment forms, for signatures and to see if parents have checked the "allergies" boxes. (2)
  • Complete a variety of forms, e.g. record names, dates and scores in progress report forms and note dosages and times in medication forms. (2)
  • Locate and integrate data in large and complicated tables, e.g. early childhood educators refer to tables displaying developmental characteristics, such as motor skills and language acquisition, for each age group. (3)
  • Write reminder notes, e.g. write notes to remember time commitments and changes to lesson plans. (1)
  • Write short text entries in forms, e.g. write comments in daily logs to record learning activities that took place with children. (1)
  • Write notes to co-workers and parents, e.g. write notes to parents informing them about forms to be completed. (2)
  • Write descriptions and explanations on accident reporting and evaluation forms, e.g. describe what occurred, who was involved and what actions were taken when completing incident reporting forms. (2)
  • Write short letters and memos, e.g. write to parents informing them of upcoming field trips and the need for volunteers. (2)
  • May write learning plans, e.g. write annual program overviews and daily learning plans outlining activities, learning resources and special equipment needed. (3)
  • May write articles for school newsletters, e.g. write summaries of school program goals, special events, such as field trips, and suggestions for additional activities to be completed at home. (3)
  • May purchase classroom supplies using cash and credit cards, e.g. purchase snacks, paper goods and educational materials, such as puzzles, games and seasonal supplies. (1)
  • Measure volumes, weights, heights and temperatures, e.g. measure ingredients for cooking and dosages of children's medication. (1)
  • Estimate quantities of materials required to complete teaching activities, e.g. estimate the number of building blocks required for children to build play houses. (1)
  • May total monies collected, e.g. total monies collected for field trips, special events and activities. (2)
  • Compare costs of programs and purchases to determine best value, e.g. compare costs of snack foods, supplies and materials. (2)
  • May create staff schedules, e.g. plan shift schedules for full and part-time staff. (2)
  • Create learning activity schedules to meet educational program goals, e.g. create monthly learning schedules and divide them into weekly plans and daily lessons. (2)
  • Manage inventories of classroom supplies, e.g. count stock and replenish supplies as needed. (2)
  • May analyze enrolment data, e.g. compare number of children enrolled and applicants on wait lists to previous years, compare morning to afternoon attendances and calculate male-to-female ratios. (2)
  • Estimate times required to complete activities, e.g. estimate times needed for children to achieve learning goals and complete activities, such as puzzles and drawings. (2)
  • May confirm calculations on suppliers' invoices, e.g. confirm purchase totals, applied discounts and taxes on invoices prior to approving payment. (3)
  • May create and monitor budgets of small educational facilities and programs, e.g. plan operational budgets and allocate funds for staffing, classroom resources and field trips. (3)
Oral Communication
  • Listen to announcements over intercoms and parents' messages on voicemail systems. (1)
  • Reassure and comfort children who are upset due to illness and separation from their parents, e.g. comfort children who are not feeling well. (2)
  • Teach children and guide them through learning activities, e.g. teach concepts and themes, such as the alphabet, counting, colours, weather, animals and the seasons. (2)
  • Discuss behaviours with children and encourage them to take responsibility for their actions, e.g. speak to children about their actions and behaviours, explain and demonstrate why some actions are inappropriate and provide suggestions about how to manage emotions. (2)
  • Discuss ongoing work with co-workers and colleagues, e.g. discuss daily schedules and learning activities with assistants and exchange ideas about learning activities with colleagues. (3)
  • Organize and lead discussions of children's progress with parents, caregivers and guardians, e.g. discuss children's progress and behaviours with parents and suggest the use of resources, such as speech therapists and behaviour modification counsellors, for high-needs children. (3)
  • May discuss treatment options with mental and medical-health professionals, e.g. discuss the behaviours of troubled children and treatment options with child psychologists. (3)
  • Find that unfamiliar people arrive to pick-up children. They review names on authorized pick-up forms. If necessary, they contact parents to receive further direction and permission to release their children. (1)
  • Find that activity schedules are disrupted when equipment is broken and unsafe. They order replacements for broken items and organize activities that use other toys and games. (1)
  • Supervise large groups of children when staff and volunteers don't show up for work. They ask school aides to help and contact substitute teachers and assistants. They reassign duties to cover areas as needed and ask parents to stay to maintain the proper ratio of adults to children. (2)
  • Evaluate children's progress. They assess linguistic development by observing children's understanding of questions and their ability to name colours and use correct pronunciation. They monitor children's abilities to complete personal hygiene tasks to acceptable standards. (2)
  • Plan a variety of job tasks to meet program goals and children's learning needs on a daily basis. They may have to adjust their plans to ensure children are continuously engaged. (2)
  • Find information about teaching resources and methods by reading manuals, consulting co-workers and searching for specific topics on the Internet. (2)
  • Cannot complete planned learning activities when children are unmanageable. They attempt to engage them using other toys and alternate activities. They may isolate misbehaving and aggressive children, explain expected behaviours and assign appropriate consequences. They may call parents when children's behaviour is unmanageable. (3)
  • May determine admissions. They follow established procedures, give priority to families with children currently registered, review wait-list positions and consider special-needs requirements. (3)
  • May select a wide range of sanctions and rewards for employees they supervise. They make decisions in accordance with union contracts and provincial labour regulations. (3)
  • Select learning activities, programs of studies and interventions for children in their care. They determine timelines and pacing for activities. They select learning resources, such as books, games and puzzles, and choose activities, such as field trips, role playing, singing and drawing, to engage children. (3)
  • Assess children's physical well-being and emotional health. They consider the risks associated with recreational activities and study children's body language, interactions with others and overall behaviour when assessing their emotional wellness. (3)
  • Find information about children by observing their interactions, reviewing their files and speaking to co-workers, parents and mental-health professionals, such as psychologists. (3)
Digital Technology
  • May use calculators and personal digital assistant (PDA) devices to complete numeracy-related tasks, such as calculating material requirements. (1)
  • May use graphic software, e.g. use image-editing programs to alter and save photographs. (2)
  • Use communication software, e.g. send email to parents reminding them of upcoming field trips. (2)
  • Access online information posted by suppliers, manufacturers, unions and associations to stay current on industry trends and practices. (2)
  • Use the Internet to source and access resources and ideas for activities that promote the development of children. (2)
  • May use the Internet to source and access training offered by suppliers, employers and associations. (2)
  • May use computer applications to accommodate impairments, such as a limited range of motion or blindness, e.g. use text magnifiers to change font styles, text sizes and colours to assist children with visual acuity disabilities and use applications that produce Braille from print or convert text to speech. (2)
  • Use word processing software to create a variety of short documents, such as checklists, tracking forms, memos and letters to parents. They write progress reports and create newsletters using advanced word processing features. (3)
  • May create spreadsheets to organize children's and parents' contact information and track children's attendance, progress and the payment of fees. (3)
Additional Information Working with Others

Early childhood educators, assistants and supervisors coordinate and integrate job tasks with other members of educational teams to provide learning activities to children in their care. They plan learning goals and instructional activities with co-workers to ensure consistency and continuity. They meet and communicate frequently to ensure uninterrupted supervision of children at their facilities.

Continuous Learning

Early childhood educators and assistants learn continuously to understand and apply new instructional approaches, child development theories and legislation and to understand the needs of particular student populations. They learn through interactions with co-workers and colleagues and by researching new activities and resources using print and electronic resources. They must maintain certification in first aid and cardio-pulmonary resuscitation.

Impact of Digital Technology

All essential skills are affected by the introduction of technology in the workplace. Early childhood educators' and assistants' ability to adapt to new technologies is strongly related to their skill levels across the essential skills, including reading, writing, thinking and communication skills. Technologies are transforming the ways in which workers obtain, process and communicate information, and the types of skills needed to perform in their jobs. Early childhood educators and assistants, in particular, require a broad range of digital skills to perform their job functions. For example, workers can calculate costs, material requirements, conversions and other numeracy-related tasks using Web-based applications, specialized software and hand-held devices, such as personal digital assistants (PDAs). In addition, tools, such as cellular telephones, can increase opportunities for verbal interaction and can improve workplace safety (e.g. request medical assistance using cellular telephones).

Technology in the workplace further affects the complexity of tasks related to the essential skills required for this occupation. For example, the ongoing development and introduction of computer applications to accommodate disabilities requires early childhood educators and assistants to continually upgrade their digital skills. Furthermore, workers need digital skills to use increasingly complex software applications that might be involved in viewing simulations and cases studies in multimedia presentations; or using videos, videoconferencing, DVDs and Web-based applications available on the Internet for information, communication or learning purposes. Electronic databases provide access to more information, while keyword search functions make it easier to find data (e.g. forms, student information). Workers can also complete documents, such as progress reports, with speed and accuracy using specialized software applications that input data automatically. Software and hardware developers are further improving ease of use for workers through touch-screen technology, built-in self-help tutorials and more user-friendly software applications.

Early Childhood Educator Assistants

Early childhood educator assistants supervise pre-school children in day-care centres and nursery schools, and under the supervision of an early childhood educator, they lead children in activities to stimulate and develop their intellectual, physical and emotional growth. They are employed in day-care centres and nursery schools.

  • Read notes from parents which may describe the medicine a child is taking or provide information, such as that a different parent is taking the child home. (1)
  • Read a communication log which includes information on the activities of the previous day, children's behaviour and children who are ill. (2)
  • Read stories to the children during story time. (2)
  • Read books and magazines to find activity ideas which are appropriate for the children's level of development. (2)
  • Read pamphlets from the Public Health Office about viruses in the area, so they can watch for symptoms and answer parents' questions. (2)
  • Read information on enrolment forms of new children, such as behavioural or medical information. (2)
  • Review manuals stating the philosophy and procedures of the day-care centre or school. (3)
  • Read ministry guidelines on provincial child-care policies, covering topics such as, operating a nursery or handling emergencies. This information may be used to answer parents' questions. (3)
Document Use
  • Read labels on infant formula. (1)
  • Read lists, such as emergency contact lists, kitchen recycling lists and allergy lists. (1)
  • Recognize Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) symbols on products used in the day care. (1)
  • Complete attendance forms and time sheets for hours worked or lists. (1)
  • Read activity schedules, to organize and keep track of children's activities, and read a snack schedule, to see what to prepare for the snack. (2)
  • Read forms completed by parents, such as authorization forms, which include information on who is allowed to pick up specific children from the day-care, and enrolment forms that provide medical and emergency information. (2)
  • Recognize common angles to teach shapes to children or when doing crafts. (2)
  • Use pictures as teaching aids. (2)
  • Complete accident report forms when accidents occur. (3)
  • Write in a communication log or staff book. (1)
  • Print words or sentences on paper or chalkboards when teaching or to help a child. (1)
  • Write reminder notes to themselves and co-workers about specific duties or information about specific children. (1)
  • Write lists of supplies that are needed. (1)
  • May record an event or accident by describing the context, events leading up to the situation, what happened, their assessment of the situation and the action taken. (2)
Numeracy Money Math
  • Collect money from parents for activities or field trips and provide change and receipts. (1)
  • Calculate the cost of supplies needed for activities, considering the number of children, cost per item and taxes. (2)
Scheduling, Budgeting & Accounting Math
  • May purchase supplies, recording in a book the item, the cost and the amount of change. (1)
Measurement and Calculation Math
  • Count children to keep track of them. (1)
  • Teach basic math skills to children, such as counting, adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing, using different techniques, such as number games. (1)
  • Measure and record quantities of formula or medication to be given to children. (1)
  • measure quantities of ingredients to cook or the quantity of materials needed to do crafts. (1)
  • May measure heights and weights of children. (1)
Data Analysis Math
  • May use basic comparisons to teach children concepts such as bigger, smaller, more or less. (1)
Numerical Estimation
  • Estimate how many children will participate in an activity to determine the quantity of supplies needed. (1)
  • Estimate quantities by sight, such as the amount of stock left or the amount of juice poured into a child's cup. (1)
Oral Communication
  • Observe and listen to children while they play to observe how well they interact. (1)
  • May call suppliers to arrange deliveries. (1)
  • Speak with parents to inform them of their children's activities, progress and behaviour, to answer questions, to provide reassurance and suggestions and to receive information about the children's health or other issues. (1)
  • Interact with their supervisor to discuss problems, hours of work or changes in programs, and to receive suggestions. (1)
  • Interact with children to teach, help and comfort them. (2)
  • Interact with co-workers to learn and to inform others about children's progress and activities and to plan joint activities for several groups. (2)
  • May participate in meetings with co-workers to generate ideas, to set the curriculum, to discuss children's progress and to allocate tasks. (2)
  • May attend parent meetings to discuss topics such as field trips, staff evaluations, enrolment and conferences. They may present information on conferences and seminars that they attended. (2)
Thinking Problem Solving
  • May find that children are not co-operating. They find ways to gain their co-operation. (2)
  • May encounter conflicts or fights between children. They resolve the problem by reasoning, instilling the consequences of breaking rules, making new seating arrangements, offering incentives or introducing a new activity. (2)
  • Find children experiencing separation anxiety at their parents' departure from the day care. They find ways to comfort and distract the child and to help the parent. (2)
  • Try to help children who are withdrawn, shy or aggressive or who have other behavioural problems. (2)
  • Provide or obtain medical care, as appropriate, when a child is injured. (2)
Decision Making
  • May select which activities to do, considering weekly themes, program schedules or the weather. (1)
  • Decide how to handle specific situations, such as whether to remove a child who is creating a disturbance or whether to call a teacher to intervene in a dispute between children. (2)
  • Decide if toys are safe when setting up a play area for a certain age group. (2)
  • Decide whether the parent should be called when a child appears ill or has been hurt. (2)
  • May decide whether a child is mature enough to move into a class with older children. (3)
  • Decide whether to release a child when the person picking up the child is not the person expected. (3)
Critical Thinking

Critical Thinking information was not collected for this profile.

Job Task Planning and Organizing

Early childhood educator assistants follow plans determined by their supervisors or plan their own day, within the limits of an activity schedule. The order and priority of activities are determined and coordinated with other workers. Daily activities are usually organized within an established structure to help the learning process. This means moving children through tasks in a set order.

Early childhood educator assistants can change their daily schedule to response to the needs of children or intervene in emergency situations.

Significant Use of Memory
  • Remember instructions from teachers given at the start of the day and special directions from parents, such as medication to be given or a change in pick up arrangements for a child at the end of the day.
  • Remember new skills developed or knowledge acquired by each child to support his or her continuing development.
  • Remember children's names and which child belongs to which parent or guardian.
Finding Information
  • Get information from day planner books when they substitute for other workers. (1)
  • Consult a child's file or the log book for information such as from whom a child may receive visits or whether a particular child has a documented pattern of behaviour. (2)
  • Refer to teaching aids and arts and crafts books for information about activities for the children or to find resource materials, such as pictures that they can use in presentations to the children. (2)
Digital Technology
  • May write letters to the children's parents. (2)
  • Record information about children's activities. (2)
  • Use other computer applications. For example, use educational software to help children learn the alphabet. (2)
Additional Information Other Essential Skills:

Working with Others

Early childhood educator assistants are members of a team, working with early childhood educators and other assistants. They work independently when they are supervising an assigned group of children. They work as a partner with other staff members when jointly supervising larger groups and sometimes they have a student teacher as a helper. They may sometimes work alone, for example, tidying the day-care area.

Continuous Learning

Early childhood educator assistants have an ongoing need to learn. They learn at work through their experiences with children, teachers and other assistants. Some attend workshops, conferences and seminars on topics such as, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and first aid, special needs children or teaching strategies. These may be fully or partially subsidized by the day-care centre or school or paid for by the worker. Independent reading also provides early childhood educator assistants with new ideas and information.

Apprenticeship Grants

There are two types of Apprenticeship Grants available from the Government of Canada:
  • The Apprenticeship Incentive Grant (AIG) is a taxable cash grant of $1,000 per year, up to a maximum of $2,000 per person. This grant helps registered apprentices in designated Red Seal trades get started.
  • The Apprenticeship Completion Grant (ACG) is a taxable cash grant of $2,000. This grant helps registered apprentices who have completed their training become certified journeypersons in designated Red Seal trades.
[ Source: CanLearn - HRSDC ]
Information for Newcomers

Credential Assessment

Provincial credential assessment services assess academic credentials for a fee. Contact a regulatory body or other organization to determine if you need an assessment before spending money on one that is not required or recognized.

The assessment will tell you how your education compares with educational standards in the province or territory where you are planning to settle can help you in your job search.

Please consult the Hamilton--Niagara Peninsula Region and Ontario tabs for more useful information related to education and job requirements.
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