Pre-primary, pre-school or kindergarten educators play a vital role in the early development of children. What children learn and experience during their early years can shape their views of themselves and the world and can determine their later success or failure in society and affect their personal lives.
Pre-school children learn mainly through play and group activities. Pre-primary educators use play to further language and vocabulary development. In addition they lead children in activities designed to develop their physical abilities, communicative skills and interpersonal relationships. Examples of play activities would be storytelling, rhyming games, and acting games. Examples of creative play would be mixing and using colours to paint as well as dance, and music. As they grow, the play may take on a more academic focus as children begin to perform activities that lead to letter recognition, counting of numbers, and awareness of nature and science. They may also promote health and safety concepts.
Pre-primary educators are also acutely aware of the emotional development of small children and organise and supervise activities and games that promote self-confidence and social interaction with other children. They try to keep a balance of activities while also ensuring that children have adequate rest periods. At times, they need to attend to sick children and those in need of first-aid; comfort children who are hurt or distressed and assist children with their toilet training and other personal matters.
They need to watch for signs of illness or other problems and they evaluate and record the progress children make and discuss this with parents. They might make appropriate recommendations with regard to further development or detect signs of developmental disorder, ill health or emotional disturbance. They sometimes work with guidance officers, occupational therapists, speech pathologists and psychologists, to assist children with special needs.