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step 1 Look the Part I 1 I maintain a professional appearance by dressing appropriately and present- ing myself in a professional manner. I Always I Usually I Sometimes I Never Is Your Appearance at Work Professional? Just how professional can you look when you spend your days sitting on the floor with children, making playdough, painting, changing diapers, and serving food? Dressing in a comfortable style that allows for active movement and messy activities doesn’t mean you can’t look professional. Whether you like it or not, others tend to quickly judge you based on your outward appearance. A strong professional look gives early childhood educators the credibility they deserve. It prob- ably wouldn’t make sense for you to wear business attire while work- ing with children, but wearing ill-fitting sweats covered in food stains doesn’t make sense either; such a look robs you of your credibility. Do You Look the Part? So how do you dress professionally yet in a way that allows you to actively engage with little ones? The standards for professional appearance will vary based on your program’s culture. Your admin- istrators, along with other governing bodies such as your board or employee sponsor, will help determine guidelines for acceptable dress and appearance. Does all this talk about dress seem a little silly? Not when you con- sider that others are more likely to treat you like a professional when you look like a professional. Do you dress to impress? You should. I 8