New Year's Resolutions for Early Childhood Educators: Elevating Your Teaching & Engaging in Self-Care

New Year's Resolutions for Early Childhood Educators: Elevating Your Teaching & Engaging in Self-Care

Posted by Sara Naff on Dec 15th 2023

The start of a new year is the perfect time for early childhood educators to set professional development goals as well as re-focus on self-care and maintaining a better work-life balance.

Photo of a woman writing new years resolutions on sticky notes like "travel more" and "manage debt"

12 Resolutions for Teaching & Professional Development

Whether you're a preschool teacher or a childcare professional working with kids up to third grade, these 12 New Year's resolutions can help enhance your teaching skills, improve your classroom environment, and create a more engaging learning experience for your students.

Even better, we have a course to help you meet each of these goals.

1) Want to update the appearance of your classroom?
Looking for a new look? Check out Spaces That Wow to design classrooms, play areas, and other learning environments so exciting that children will never want to leave.

2) Interested in fostering positive behavior through play?
Play is critical to the development of young children. A Playful Approach to Positive Behaviors will help you explore a variety of strategies that will support children’s learning experiences while helping development of appropriate behaviors.

3) Looking to integrate active and multisensory approaches in literacy?
Children learn best when they are engaged in literacy based activities that are enriched with the arts and movement. Not sure where to start? How about with the ABCs of Active Learning and Multisensory Literacy.

4) Want to incorporate more active play in your teaching?
Get moving in the new year with new strategies, lessons, and activities from our Active Play = Kinesthetic Learning course. Explore how a child’s mind develops and learning occurs as a result of active play activities.

5) Want to be more inclusive of different learning styles?
Advancing Your Classroom for Success will encourage you to think, create, and assess to make your classroom the very best engaging learning environment it can be for all students.

6) Interested in introducing yoga to preschoolers?
Yoga also counteracts stress and gives children tools to cope. Find out all you need to know to kickstart yoga and related movement-based activities in our Yoga for Preschools course.

7) Want to make math more fun?
Discover innovative and exciting strategies for teaching math to young learners. Hakuna Da'MATH'a explores Teaching Strategies Gold and School readiness objectives for math learning. También disponible en español. (Also available in Spanish.)

8) Want to enhance your skills in special needs education?
A fantastic place to start is with our Child First! Understanding Special Needs course, which not only covers the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) but also equips participants with various tools and resources.

9) Hoping to help children strengthen their self-esteem?
Building Self-Esteem in Children is an important role and goal of any early childhood educator. What makes this course different from others is that it challenges you to take a look at your own self-esteem, too.

10) Need more activities that build visual literacy skills?
Picture books offer much more than just stories. In Art In the Classroom: Growing Language and Literacy Through Picture Book Exploration and Open-Ended Creative Experiences you’ll learn ways to help students develop literacy and their own storytelling abilities.

11) Want to encourage kids to make new friends (and keep them!)?
Making friends is one of the most important social aspects of childhood -- and it’s also one of the hardest skills to learn. Through the Social-Emotional Problem Solving: Making Friends course, you will review ways t o assist your students in making and retaining friends.

12) Need to improve your classroom and behavioral management skills?
Our new Behavioral Management for the Classroom course is designed to educate teachers on what typical and challenging behaviors look like in children up to age 7, and how to establish boundaries in driving appropriate behaviors within the classroom.

24 Tips for a Better Work/Life Balance for Early Childhood Educators

While it’s important to set professional goals for the New Year, it will be difficult to achieve them without the right self-care routine. Taking care of yourself will help you take care of others.

Check out this list of 24 ways to improve your work/life balance in 2024 and beyond:

  1. Set boundaries and stick to them: Be clear about when you are and aren't available to parents and administrators.
  2. Practice self-care daily: Take time for yourself every day, even if it's just 10 minutes. Go for a walk, meditate, take a bath, read a book, etc.
  3. Leave work at work: Resist the urge to take work home with you in the evenings and on weekends. Those times are for recharging.
  4. Take all your breaks and lunches: Use break times to truly renew your energy, don't work through them. Eat nourishing food.
  5. Hydrate and stay fueled: Drink lots of water and eat healthy snacks to keep your energy balanced throughout demanding days.
  6. Connect with supportive colleagues: Build positive relationships with co-workers you can share struggles with.
  7. Keep perspective on challenges with kids: When tensions run high with a child, take a breather and remember they are still learning emotional skills.
  8. Laugh daily: Humor reduces stress; share a funny story with a coworker or watch a funny video on your lunch break.
  9. Move your body: Exercise not only reduces anxiety but boosts energy too; take a short walk or do yoga poses during down time.
  10. Keep your space organized: An orderly environment helps keep the mind clear; take 5 minutes in the morning or evening to tidy and declutter.
  11. Listen to uplifting content: Make your commute more peaceful with a positive podcast, audio book or upbeat playlist.
  12. Journal regularly: Writing about thoughts, feelings or appreciations helps process emotions and improve sleep.
  13. Say no when needed: Don't overload yourself; know your limits and learn to politely decline extra duties if required self-care time would suffer.
  14. Leave early when possible: Take advantage of days when you can slip out of work early and have added personal time.
  15. Connect with nature: Spending time outdoors, even if briefly, reduces stress hormones.
  16. Pursue a hobby: Do an activity you love that has nothing to do with teaching, like baking, hiking, reading, crafting.
  17. Spend time with supportive loved ones: Cherish relationships that replenish you; limit draining ones.
  18. Keep plants in your workspace: Living things promote mental health, keep a small plant on your desk.
  19. Avoid working in bed: Associate your bed only with sleep to prevent insomnia.
  20. Say positive affirmations: Combat negative self talk with uplifting messages like "I am at peace" or "I have enough time."
  21. Take mental health days when needed: Use sick days for self-care to prevent burnout.
  22. Set work/life boundaries with technology: Disable work email notifications on your days off.
  23. Travel and explore new places when possible: New experiences boost creativity, mental health and life perspective.
  24. Lastly, and most important-- remember your WHY: Reconnect with what gives your work with children meaning when you feel overwhelmed or depleted. Your passion makes all the effort worthwhile.

Sara Naff headshot

Sara Naff is an early childhood education professional who has taught in the preschool classroom as well as adult learner environments. She is Director of Operations at AIR Childcare Training Solutions.