What is an Early Childhood Education Professional? Are we just considered to be babysitters?

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.

 

References

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

The importance of research to educators

Over the next eight weeks I will examine articles and studies with great expectations in improving my research skills.  Learning how to distinguish quality resource materials from poorly crafted ones not only saves time in the collection of information, but knowing what makes an article or study is also important. 

When reviewing studies all should have a clear definition of the purpose of the study, how and what materials or participants were used and their relevance, the results retrieved and a conclusion of the facts found.  Many studies draw reference from other experts, studies or theories to help change policy or draw attention to critical issues.  As researchers, it’s important that we acknowledge our own views and biases to ensure that we are authoring credible research that is ethically sound and practical.

As we’re going through the different exercises, I will apply these findings to my topic of interest: poverty and the effects it plays in early childhood education.  There are many subtopics to select from, but I’m partial to how poverty affects physical and cognitive development in children aged zero to five.  It was interesting to learn that there are different types of research methodologies that researchers can use from deductive to inductive.  As I learn the terminology I’m curious as to which method I will gravitate towards and my reasons why.

Reference

Naughton, G., Rolfe, S., & Siraj-Blatchford (2010). Doing Early Childhood Research International Perspectives On Theory & Practice. (2 Ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill Open University Press.

 

Children and Clean Water

“768 million people still use unsafe drinking water” (UNICEF 2013)
“More than 125 million children under five years of age live in households without access to an improved drinking-water source”(UNICEF 2006)
“Under-five mortality in South Asia, at 92 child deaths per 1,000 live births, is the highest in the developing world” (UNICEF 2006)

These are alarming statistics. In Cambodia alone, over 20% of the deaths in children under five is contributed to contaminated water (Water for Cambodia 2013). Lack of clean water has not only led to death but poverty, poor sanitation conditions and malnutrition and at risk pregnancies within the most impoverished villages. Organizations such as UNICEF and Water for Cambodia provide water filtration systems and educate families not only on how to maintain and care for their water filtration system, but has also provided education and training on proper health, hygiene, reading, writing and mathematics. By changing the conditions of the mother’s pre-natal and full birth state, children have a better chance at healthy development and the ability to obtain an education to change their circumstances.

As educators we have a responsibility in knowing the conditions and circumstances that can prevent children from developing and maturing into productive citizens. Staying informed allow us to make educated decisions and assist in facilitating change.

References

Water for Cambodia (2013). Retrieved from http://www.waterforcambodia.org/
Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, (UNICEF 2013). Retrieved from http://www.unicef.org/wash/
UNICEF (2006). Progress for Children: A report card on water and sanitation (Number 5, September 2006). Retrieved from http://www.unicef.org/publications/files/Progress_for_Children_No._5_-_English.pdf