If you’re an early childhood educator or parent who cares about what you do and how it affects the children you care for, congratulations. You’re one of us.
And we’re in a frustrating place in society right now. After all, we’re the ones who’ve cared for others without asking for much in return. That's not working out very well anymore.
Because of increased turnover and massive exodus in the field, our low-paying, extremely difficult but emotionally rewarding jobs have become impossible. This creates even more turnover and high-quality, well-experienced, and educated providers leaving the field in droves. This greatly affects the quality of care the children receive.
And it greatly affects the parents who need high-quality care for their children.
And all this is happening at a point in history when early childhood brain research is telling us that the interactions that occur during the first few years of life are paramount in creating the roadmaps we use throughout our entire lifetimes for physical, emotional, and cognitive learning. (Banaji, Gelmann 2014)
In the first few years of life, more than 1 million new neural connections form every second. After this period of rapid proliferation, connections are reduced through a process called pruning, which allows brain circuits to become more efficient. In light of these findings, focussing on early childhood only makes sense. -Center for the Developing Child, Harvard University-
During the first few years of life, we are, essentially, learning to learn. Attitudes are formed and our problem-solving approaches are being settled upon.
So early childhood professionals do matter after all. It’s been scientifically and irrefutably proven.
And who, exactly, do we matter to? Check out these stats.
There are 329.5 million people living in the US.
There are 15 million children under the age of six with all available parents in the workforce.
There are 2.25 mil people who identify as early childhood teachers.
There are 14 million households with kids under the age of 6
So, by extremely rough estimates we have 25 million people that could potentially band together to create radical changes for families which could, in turn, produce radical changes for everyone. We could potentially reduce violent crime and minimize the effect mental illness plays in people's lives.
I think we need to seriously consider the option that early childhood parents and teachers join forces and forge a unified approach to positive change.
But how do we start? Here are just a few ideas:
Refuse to work in or send children to facilities that don’t pay teachers a living wage.
Celebrate and respect facilities that do. Reward them in any way possible
Attend trainings that teach non-violent communication for teachers and parents. (Rosenberg, 2015)
Demand help from the government to pay for high-quality care. Our children and our future society will thank you. Since high-quality early childhood education has been proven to save our government up to $12.90 dollars for every dollar spent, this is a non-partisan issue. ( Perry Preschool Study 1962-present)
So, what happens next? That’s the $64,000. question!
For my part, I’m using my 40+ years of experience and education as an early childhood and family educator to present to you my collection of user-friendly early childhood antibias experiences. Those experiences will be available as blog posts and come out over the next few weeks. The first one is here.
I'll also be presenting on antibias musical experiences for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers at the 2022 virtual WECA conference on Sat. Oct 1st. Here's a link to my info about that!
If you want to stay connected and get more activities delivered effortlessly to your inbox each Saturday, join our community here. When you do you’ll get my 22-page slideshow How to Get Kids To Listen Without Yelling Or Time Outs for free.
Banaji, Mahzarin R., and Susan A. Gelman. Navigating the Social World What Infants, Children, and Other Species Can Teach Us. Oxford University Press, 2014.
“Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University.” Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, 4 Dec. 2017, https://developingchild.harvard.edu/.
“Highscope Perry Preschool Study.” The SAGE Encyclopedia of Contemporary Early Childhood Education, 2016, https://doi.org/10.4135/9781483340333.n189.
Rosenberg, Marshall B. Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life. PuddleDancer Press, 2015.
Nanci J Bradley is an early childhood and family educator, author, teacher, family aerobics instructor, and an all-around fun-loving person. She believes in the power of sleep, healthy eating, lifelong learning, and most of all, PLAY! She studied early childhood ed at Triton College and received her BS in education in 1986 from NIU. She received her MA in human development from Pacific Oaks College in 2011. She lives and teaches in Madison WI and is the founder of early childhood rocks!, a non-profit organization dedicated to changing the world through early childhood education.