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Nails In early childhood education, your hands are moving as fast as your feet. You
need to be able to quickly and efficiently carry out the responsibilities of your
job. That means constantly using your hands and constantly washing them.
Although nails have become a fashion accessory, consider the following for
work. You want nails that are
Short enough to allow you to quickly perform your job responsibili-
ties such as zipping coats and fastening buttons
Short enough for you to easily clean under them at work
Long, manicured nails can be beautiful, but consider their disadvantages.
Scratch children unintentionally
Collect dirt, food particles, and bodily fluids
Break or bend more easily, hurting you
Leave nail polish chips in food or on the floor
Jewelry Jewelry is not only decorative, it can also be symbolic—for example, wed-
ding rings, school rings, and religious symbols. In an industry that celebrates
diversity, jewelry can be a way to express cultural heritage. Is there a place for
jewelry at work as an early childhood professional? Of course. Again, safety
for the child and for you is the main concern. Use these ideas when selecting
jewelry to wear at work:
Since you wash your hands so often, minimize rings and bracelets.
Avoid jewelry that can easily scratch children.
Consider the age of the children with whom you are working. Infants
and toddlers may grab or pull jewelry that dangles from your ears or
Avoid jewelry that can break easily, such as a strand of beads. They
may pose a choking hazard for children.
Leave jewelry that you do not want to lose at home.
Look the Part
Makeup and Perfume or Cologne
Wearing makeup is a personal preference. Apply a minimal amount for
on the job. If you are a big kid-kisser, consider whether to wear lipstick.
Lipstick kiss marks, if not removed, can look like bruises or injuries on chil-
dren. Children can also be allergic to makeup.
Lots of smells are associated with early childhood education, some good,
others not. It’s certainly important and professional to smell good, but adults
and children are often allergic to strong perfume or cologne. With infants
and toddlers, you may not even know of potential allergies. Use perfume or
Hair Hair should be clean, well groomed, and off your face. If you are constantly
pushing your hair away from your face while you are working, then pull it
back. Programs have different policies about hair when you are serving food.
Some centers, health departments, and state licensing regulations require you
to wear a hairnet or hat. This may include when you are feeding infants or
serving children in the classroom. Ask your supervisor about requirements.
Working with young children requires physical exertion and much activity.
Remember that good hygiene, keeping yourself and your clothes clean and
washed, requires daily effort. You can look professional and not smell profes-
sional. Cultural norms about hygiene differ. However, since you are caring for
young children, your hygiene standards have the potential to affect the health
and safety of those around you. Do not be offended if your supervisor or
another employee offers to educate you about the hygiene standards in your
program. Body Art, Tattoos, and Piercings
Although tattoos and piercings are more common today, they are not always
considered professional. Let your program’s culture guide this aspect of your
personal appearance. If you have questions, ask your supervisor.
being a professional