Feeling nervous about practical placement? Like any new experience, starting your work placement could feel a little overwhelming. But don’t worry — with the right preparation for your practical placement, you can feel confident and ready to get started.
Practical, hands-on learning experiences are an essential part of your early childhood education course. We incorporate practical placement into our courses to ensure that every learner has the opportunity to apply what they’re learning and get real-life knowledge in the workplace.
The placement hours of a course allow you to gain firsthand experience as an educator, exploring and expanding what you know about early childhood education and finding your feet in the work environment with children. Read on and take these insights on board to feel well and truly prepared to get the most from your placement.
Knowing what to expect on practical placement
Heading into placement, you are likely to get the chance to take on a range of responsibilities under the mentorship of your allocated early learning service. Your role and responsibilities will be allocated by the early childhood education provider you are doing your practical placement with, but often you will be given the opportunity to work in a few different spaces around the service. This could mean working with young babies on some days and older children on other days. You might help with outdoor play, art and craft time or reading books, just to name a few areas.
You and our Practical Placement Coordinator will work together to arrange your placement workplace, and your individual circumstances will be factored in during the process.
Being prepared for practical placement
Getting prepared is really important to get off to a good start on your practical placement. Preparation can mean a lot of things, from getting your Working With Children’s Check (Vic and NSW) or blue card (QLD) sorted in advance, to knowing where to go when your first day comes along.
Practical Outcomes’ pre-placement information session is perfect to help you get the details you need before commencing. If you do have any questions, feel free to ask your Practical Placement Coordinator or your trainer. Don’t forget, your trainer will continue to support you through placement and will even visit you in your early childhood service while you’re on placement.
Preparation includes the logistics of placement too. This could include pre-planning where you need to go and how you are going to commute — planning these things carefully so you arrive on time and put your best foot forward will make you feel more at ease.
What you need to know for placement
The early childhood education service you attend for your practical work placement should provide you with information or a set of service guidelines. This may cover dress code, confidentiality policies, social media and more so that you know what is and is not acceptable. Reading through and double checking anything you’re unsure about in advance can help you to feel prepared.
Generally, most of the guidelines and policies will be fairly straightforward, but if you have any queries make note of them and ask your trainer, placement coordinator or service contact before you start so you feel confident right from the beginning. If there is a uniform to be worn the service will provide this to you, otherwise you are likely to simply need to dress comfortably and practically such as with your Practical Outcomes polo shirt and shorts or pants.
Stand out while on practical placement
Giving practical placement your best and standing out could even see your placement lead to long term employment. There are many things you can do to shine as a learner during work placement.
Asking questions is a good place to start. Not only does this help you gain more information and learn faster, it also shows that you have a keen interest in the sector and the service you are working with. While you may feel a little nervous, do your best to actively engage with children and take initiative while on the job. It goes without saying that following instructions and completing tasks in a productive manner are important too. Some important questions to ask the service can include:
- Where do I sign in and out?
- Where may I place my belongings?
- Which room will I be in?
- What are the names of the educators in the room I will be in?
- Who can sign my paperwork?
We also provide our learners with a practical placement journal to enhance the placement. This helps learners gets more from the placement experience, promoting self-reflection and enabling them to track their own progress and see their improvement throughout their course. Ensure you take your practical placement journal to placement each day and keep it up-to-date to help reach your full potential through your work placement.
Infection control and COVID Safety on placement
In light of the coronavirus pandemic, there are a few extra precautions to take and be aware of when undertaking practical placement in early childhood education. While these infection control protocols vary in different areas and are subject to change depending on the current COVID-19 situation in each location, it’s important to be up-to-date on best practice when it comes to minimising risk of infection, illness and its spread.
Early childhood education services will have a COVIDSafe plan in conjunction with their systems and procedures around illness. Some vital points to note are that if you have any symptoms of illness be sure to notify your service and trainer and stay home when you are unwell. Regular handwashing has always been a priority in centres and now more than ever. As with all things, if you’re in doubt about anything pertaining to infection control while on placement, don’t hesitate to ask.
Practical placement for an enhanced learning experience
Knowing what to expect on practical placement helps you to go in feeling ready.
Practical placement is a highly valuable component of our early childhood education courses and being prepared will maximise your experience. Learners gain vital experience and get the chance to apply the theory they have been learning in a real-life setting.
You have the full support of the Practical Outcomes team throughout your practical placement experience. We can’t wait to head in alongside you as you begin to make your mark in the rewarding early childhood education sector.
Contact our team to learn more about practical placement or our early childhood education courses.