Welcome to those who care enough about the world to spend your time caring for others. You are the best of what the world has to offer. Are you getting the credit you deserve? If not, I can relate. I've been an early childhood and parent educator for over 40 years. I'm also a parent and a grandparent.
We hold the future of the world in our hands when we care for our youngest children. You know it and I know it, but what about the rest of the world?
I can't help but wonder every day what the outcome will be for childcare in the US? The parents and the providers are scrambling to make something good out of a childcare system that's was not OK before, and really not OK now!
The problem? Parents can't afford to pay and teachers can't afford to stay. This is a problem that has to be solved.
Appreciative Inquiry is a method that looks at what works and seeks to replicate and improve on that. In early childhood we call that "Best Practices". Best practices are what we need to focus on in childcare. Here's why:
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, focusing on early childhood only makes sense. -Center for the Developing Child, Harvard University-
In the US, when the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) dropped in on random childcare center unannounced and counted children, only 20% were found to be in compliance of state regulations for 2-year-olds. That means 80% were caring for more children than allowed by the state limits.
2006 TABLE 3
Percentage of Child Care Center Classes Observed in the NICHD Study Meeting Recommended Guidelines at Age 6 Months to 3 Years
6 Months 1½ Years 36%
2 Years 3 Years 20%
observed group size
6 Months 1½ Years 35%
2 Years 3 Years 20%
Since the figures above are from 2006, I can only imagine how much worse these stats will look after COVID.
That's unacceptable. Overall, only 10-15% of childcare in the US was considered high-quality in 2006. The was before the teacher shortage. Even with 40 years experience and 2 degrees I can't imagine working like that and feeling good about the care I provided. And what about the children?
Children need to feel loved and care for. They need to feel safe. They need to be allowed to play and learn in an environment that doesn't use blame, bias and bullying to guide or to discipline them. They need caregivers that understand child development and have time to listen to the children and see what the next step should be for their learning.
Tuning in to children is nearly impossible in an environment that is stressed or chaotic. That's not hard to imagine.
Let's imagine and work towards a world with more understanding and less violence. The keys to unlocking the secrets lie in the first few years of life. Yet those children don't have a voice.
Parents, teachers, providers and other caregivers who realize this, need to unite and make demands for them. Start by joining us here if you're not a member already. I'll immediately send you a 22-page slideshow that tells the exact words to say when a child you're caring for hits, whines or refused to clean up! Get it now while it's still free and stay in touch!
Today, I’m working on finishing up my e-book, Creating Empathy Through Play. I’ll attach the table of contents here, so you can get as excited as I am about it. The final product will be available on the website soon!
Thanks so much for stopping by! I appreciate YOU!!!!
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.