The first skill or personality trait that often comes to mind when considering working with children is patience. There is no doubt that working with a group of young children (or children of any age) requires patience. It is very important to know yourself and where your limits are and how much you are able to handle without losing your patience.
However, along with patience, there area few other very important abilities that are needed.
Communication skills are vital, both the ability to communicate effectively with very young children as well as with parents and other family members as needed. Both are equally valuable. Communication between child and care provider is the basis for healthy growth and development of the child.
Also needed is the ability to think quickly in a variety of situations. When working with any group of people there is always an element of the unexpected and it is especially true with children. The ability to think quickly in stressful situations is invaluable at these times. Settling arguments, dealing with "emergencies", and other unexpected situations that will be sure to arise are all part of a normal day.
Creativity is also very important. It takes a lot of creativity to provide developmentally appropriate learning experiences for a group of children of various ages, personalities and learning styles. Activities that can be enjoyed in groups as well as individually, that are seasonally appropriate and that are both safe and challenging are important.
Because there are regulations abide by and standards to meet to be a licensed childcare provider a certain amount of record keeping is required. Attention to detail and time management are very important to ensure that these tasks are done correctly and on time. This has been the biggest struggle for me. I love working in this field because of working with the children, not because of the paperwork.And the fact that we have children on all shifts seven days a week made it even harder to keep up. For me it worked to have my husband take over some of the paperwork, allowing me to focus more on the children. For others in different situations it may work better for someone else to take over other responsibilities or you may be able to cover everything yourself. Each circumstance is different with different solutions.
Most states require a licensed childcare provider to have First Aid and CPR certification. This usually has to renewed periodically. In fact my helper and I are going to a class on Monday for certification renewal.
There are a lot of skills and personality traits that are very helpful to have when working daily with children. In my experience the ones I have written about here have been some of the most valuable for me.