The field of early childhood education professionals is extremely robust, from educators, directors, advocates to researchers and policy makers. Our job as a community of professionals is to ensure each child has access and availability to all tools required to develop their social, mental, physical and intellectual development; all essentials skills needed to become productive citizens.
According to Berger (2012), a leading expert in childhood and adolescent development, there are three stages of human development: physical development and growth, mental and emotional development. Most individuals consider early childhood to encompass the years of birth to five, however, the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) defines early childhood years from birth to age eight. This very organization establishes ideologies, policies and standards based on evidence based research to ensure each child develops and learns based on age appropriate practices (NAEYC, 2016). It is these years’ ages zero through eight, which children go through a rapid development of learning and using motor skills, communication, thought processing, and learning about themselves, their ethnic backgrounds and their communities.
Let’s look at one specific skill set, communication which requires reading, writing, non-verbal and verbal commands. We all understand the importance of being able to read and write. Did you know that more than one-third of our nation’s fourth graders cannot read at the basic level (National Institute for Literacy, 2008)? With the assistance of researchers, parents and educators we can identify plausible causes for this defect and come up with viable solutions to erase literacy issues among our youth. The better prepared they are for middle and high school, the better prepared we send them into the world for career or college opportunities.
So the answer to the question, are we babysitters, is that it is plausible we are two percent of the time. The other ninety eight percent is tasked in ensuring our children have a safe, peaceful environment in which to learn, play and grow.
Berger, K.S. (2012). The developing person through childhood (6 Ed.). New York, NY: Worth Publishers.
National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC, 2016). About NAEYC. Retrieved from http://naeyc.org/content/about-naeyc
National Institute for Literacy (2008). Developing early literacy: Report of the National Early Literacy Panel. A scientific synthesis of early literacy development and implication for intervention. Retrieved from http://familieslearning.org/NELP/pdf/NELP%20Report.pdf