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.

 

Our capacity to learn (children vs adults)

May 2, 2014

Today at work, my program manager (still working as a telecom analyst) came to me and presented me a simple problem to solve that was written on an index cardImage.  He starts the conversation with the statement that children have a greater capacity to solve and simplify problems than adults.  As adults we tend to compartmentalize and over analyze.  I worked on it for about ten minutes and presented my first answer.  It was wrong.  After he wrote it again on his white board, I got it.  I thought it was a great learning example and though I would share.  I’d love to see your response.

What’s the next line?

1

11

21

1211

111221

?

 

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)

The mission of UNESCO is to provide leadership, expertise, foster partnerships on an international scale on all spectrums related to education.  The priorities of UNESCO include literacy, DAKAR Framework for Action, Millennium Development Goals and Sustainable Development.  Interested in what the six Education for All goals entailed, I researched further.

UNESCO has committed by 2015 to

1) Expand and improve early childhood education and care

2) Ensure all children, regardless of circumstance of ethnic groups have access and receive quality education at no cost.

3) Ensure that all persons regardless of age has access to age-appropriate and life-skills programs to succeed.

4) Improve literacy rates by 50 percent among low income and women and provide access to continuing education programs.

5) Eliminate gender discrimination, particularly against young girls, in receiving quality education.

6) Lastly, improve education programs to ensure all receive and gain the basic skills in literacy, math and life skills.

In Africa UNESCO is exploring how mobile technology can be used to decrease the literacy rate among the most poorest populations.  Many areas have access to mobile technology instead of libraries and books.  This technology can be leveraged to decrease the literacy rate, which  has only declined 1 percent since 2000 (UNESCO, 2014).  UNESCO found that in Nigeria, Ethiopia and Pakistan, residents are actually using mobile devices to read.  Having just the core skill of reading can improve life skills and job opportunities which is essential in life.

 

References

UNESCO (2014). http://www.unesco.org/education/aboutus/howwework/mission

UNESCO (2014). Reading in the Mobile Era. retrieved from http://www.unesco.org/education/worldwide

Shared Resources of the Children’s Defense Fund

It takes many resources and sponsors to support the work and advocacy that Children’s Defense Fund provides for children.  One such organization is the Public Welfare Foundation, Inc. (www.publicwelfare.org).  The mission of the Public Welfare Foundation is to support and advocate for individuals, regardless of age, in need, on civil rights, low-income programs, government benefits,juvenile services for youth and other legal aid for adults. A current initiative of the Public Welfare Foundation is to increase civil aid for low-income and poor families. Many have difficulties keeping their homes, getting adequate healthcare or job benefits, providing for their families and knowing where to turn when legal aid assistance is needed. The advocacy work performed by the Foundation is crucial in that the assistance they provide helps families, which in turn provides some stability in their lives and the lives of their children. As educators, knowing where to find additional services and resources for families in time of crisis helps to solidify a strong presence in the lives of their children who count on us to be not only their teachers and counselors, but part of their support system in life.

References
http://www.childrensdefense.org
http://www.publicwelfare.org/OurWork/CivilLegalAid.aspx

Poverty

After attempts to establish professional contacts in Nigeria and Ireland, I opted to research option 2 of this week’s assignment.  The link for Childhood Poverty Research and Policy Centre’s (http://www.childhoodpoverty.org/) failed me as well.  In trying to establish the correct link, I discovered some startling facts in an article featured by the Urban Institute (www.urban.org)

  • Sixty-three percent of children enter adulthood without experiencing poverty, but 10 percent of children are persistently poor, spending at least half their childhoods living in poverty, (Ratcliffe & McKernan, 2010).
  • Black children are roughly 2.5 times more likely than white children to ever experience poverty and 7 times more likely to be persistently poor, (Ratcliffe & McKernan, 2010).
  • Children who experience poverty tend to cycle into and out of poverty, and most persistently poor children spend intermittent years living above the poverty threshold, (Ratcliffe & McKernan, 2010).
  • Being poor at birth is a strong predictor of future poverty status. Thirty-one percent of white children and 69 percent of black children who are poor at birth go on to spend at least half their childhoods living in poverty, (Ratcliffe & McKernan, 2010)/
  • Children who are born into poverty and spend multiple years living in poor families have worse adult outcomes than their counterparts in higher-income families, (Ratcliffe & McKernan, 2010).

These are alarming statistics for the United States, a country rich in resources and technology.  In Nigeria the poverty rate is more than 45% meaning almost half of their countries population is living below the poverty level (World Bank, 2014).  A percentage of Nigeria’s poverty is due to several rural regions in their country that has limited resources and jobs.  For Ireland, almost 9% of their children are living in poverty (Combat Poverty, ND).  No child should have to face being consistently hungry or worry about where and when they are getting their next meal.

As we’ve learned this week poverty affects children’s health and their ability to function and learn.  Staying abreast of current economic trends and building contacts and resources to assist children in need will only strengthen the bond teachers develop with their students and allow us to not only teach but become part of their support team as well.

References

http://www.combatpoverty.ie/povertyinireland/childpoverty.htm

http://data.worldbank.org/country/nigeria

Ratcliffe, C. & McKernan, S.M. (2010). Childhood Poverty Persistence: Facts and Consequences. The Urban Institute (Brief 14, June 2010).  Retrieved from http://www.urban.org/publications/412126.html