Childcare workers care for children when parents and other family members are unavailable. They care for children’s basic needs, such as bathing and feeding. In addition, some help children prepare for kindergarten, and many help older children with homework.
Childcare workers typically do the following:
Childcare workers care for the basic needs of infants and toddlers, changing their diapers and preparing their meals. They also maintain the children’s schedules, such as play, nap, and meal times.
They introduce babies and toddlers to basic concepts by reading to them and playing with them. For example, they teach young children how to share and take turns by playing games with other children.
Childcare workers often help preschool-aged children prepare for kindergarten. Young children learn from playing, solving problems, questioning, and experimenting. Childcare workers use children’s play to improve the children’s language—for example, through storytelling and acting games—and their social skills—for example, through having them build something together in the sandbox. They may involve the children in creative activities, such as art, dance, and music.
Childcare workers often watch school-aged children before and after school. They help these children with homework and ensure that they attend afterschool activities, such as athletic 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 formal childcare centers, including Head Start and Early Head Start programs. 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 children’s progress. For more information, see the profiles on preschool teachers and teacher assistants.
Family childcare providers care for children in the provider's own home during traditional working hours. They need to ensure that their homes and all staff they employ meet the regulations for family childcare centers.
After the children go home, the providers often have more responsibilities, such as shopping for food or supplies, doing accounting, keeping records, and cleaning. In addition, family childcare providers frequently must 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 afterschool activities. Some live in the homes of the families of that employ them.
Babysitters, like nannies, work in the homes of the children in their care. However, they work for many families instead of just one. In addition, they generally do not work full time, but rather take care of the children on occasional nights and weekends when parents have other obligations.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition