By Mariza Halliday - Last update

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What is Childcare?

Childcare is defined as the care and supervision of a child or multiple children by any person or organization other than their parents or legal guardians.

The purpose of child care is to keep children safe and healthy. Young children are always learning how to learn and good child care will often also include an educational aspect that allows children to develop skills they will need for success in school and their lives outside of school as they grow. Important skills such as communication, social and emotional development, pre-literacy, and basic mathematical concepts all form part of early learning provided by child care facilities or qualified childminders.

What courses are available?

Universities and colleges in Ireland are offering courses in the following subject areas:

  • After School Support Skills – A study of the knowledge and skills needed to support children and young people who are participating in after-school support activities.
  • Approaches to Early Childhood Education – The study of the philosophies and practices of various approaches in Early Childhood Education.
  • Early Childhood Care And Education Award – The study of early childhood care and education practice, childhood education and play, team working, child development, and health and well-being.
  • Special Needs for Childcare – The study of working with children with additional needs and special needs assistance.
  • Child Development – A course for individuals wishing to acquire skills and knowledge of child development in children age 0 – 6 years.
  • Child Health and Well Being – A study of the health and well-being of children and maintaining healthy, hygienic, and safe practices and environments in early childhood care and education settings.
  • Childhood Social, Legal and Health Studies – A study of social, legal, and health factors that influence the health and well-being of children, child protective issues, legislative and policy frameworks which influence the childcare sector, and equality and diversity guidelines.

Studying Childcare in college

When you choose to take a course in Childcare you will be provided with all of the necessary materials for learning with qualified instructors and excellent resources of knowledge.

Courses are available in many shapes and forms – from full-time, long-duration courses that last 1-4 years or shorter online learning courses that can be split up into different modules so you can study as you have time. Courses in Childcare are usually assessed using a variety of examinations, assignments, work experience, and skills demonstrations. Your work and assessments will be assessed throughout the course and may also include a portfolio of evidence that included written assignments, tasks, and often feedback from work experiences.

Career options

After completing a course in Childcare you will be on your way to a career in Childcare and working with children. Childcare is a booming industry with many options for childcare employment available either in a facility such as aftercare, playschool, pre-school, or crèche or privately within a household directly as a Nanny, Tutor, or Babysitter.

It is important to note that there are specific requirements for working with children in Ireland. Please see the below and ensure that you research the most up-to-date information at the time of your studies.

From 31 December 2016, as stated in the Child Care Act (Early Years Services) Regulations 2016, all staff working directly with children must hold a minimum of QQI Level 5 Major Award in Early Childhood Care and Education.

To work in Early Childhood Care and Education with children under the age of 3 years, all early years’ practitioners need a minimum NFQ level 5 in Early Childhood Care and Education. To work with over 3’s, in a room leader (standard) the minimum requirement, is a NFQ Level 6 in Early Childhood Care and Education, and can range up to a BA/ degree level.

The higher capitation/ room leader is minimum level 7 on the NFQ in Early Childhood Care and Education. However, you can work with an NFQ Level 5 in Early Childhood Care and Education in an assistant role.

Related jobs include:

  • Aftercare Assistant
  • Aftercare Teacher
  • Au Pair
  • Babysitter
  • Crèche Assistant
  • ECD Centre Manager
  • ECD Practitioner
  • Nanny
  • Playschool Teacher
  • Pre-school Teacher
  • Tutor

Further study

After completing a course in Childcare you may choose to pursue further study in a specialist field in a related industry. Further training in important Health & Safety courses such as First Aid or Fire Safety specifically in child protection will be massively beneficial for anyone working with children to provide peace of mind to parents or guardians.

You may also find that training in Food Handling and Preparation or training as a cook or chef is beneficial if you would like to take on a position where you will be handling food for children.


Are there any particular qualities you need to study Childcare?

Communication skills are vital as childcare workers must be able to talk with parents and colleagues about the progress of the children in their care. You should have good instructional skills and decision-making skills as you will often need to make decisions quickly and without preparation.

You should be flexible and adaptable to change, and always be alert and aware of your surroundings and the children at all times. Patience is highly important when working with children as are empathy and compassion. And last but not least physical stamina is a must as you will likely spend long hours on your feet and getting up and down from the floor as you work with and play with children.

Is there anything else I can do to prepare for a career in childcare?

One of the most important things you can do to prepare for a career in childcare is to get as much experience as possible. There is no greater way to learn how to work than to work with children, you can start by volunteering at playschools or aftercare centers or by looking after and babysitting members of your family or friends’ families who have children.

You should also keep in mind that prospective employers will run a background check to make sure that you are a fit and proper person for looking after children and that you don’t have a criminal record for any child-related offenses. You should make sure that you have a strong code of personal ethics, and that your behavior is, at all times, in line with what people would expect from a responsible childcare worker.

Where can I study Childcare?

Explore your options here

Did You Know?

  • Scientists believe that humans are evolutionarily programmed to find babies cute to ensure that babies are cared for even though restless nights and bouts of colic.
  • While all children grow and develop in similar patterns, each child develops at his or her own pace.
  • The first five years of a child’s life are the most important. They shape the brain’s organization, development, and functioning throughout life.
  • Studies show that children do best when they have at least three loving and supportive adult influences in their lives.
  • By age 6, a child’s brain has reached its full size but it won’t stop developing until the mid-20s.

Mariza Halliday

Montessori Education
Community Leadership Courses


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