I was providing child care in my home somewhere. It was summer. It really didn't look like my home at all but I was in the full swing of things. The sun was shining and children were running around happily playing both in and outdoors.
Then a parent dropped off a child unexpectedly. This child didn't usually attend but apparently I had promised this parent they could attend a while ago and forgot.
After they left another parent came by, and another until suddenly I looked up and I was caring for about 12 children. That's when I saw the child care licensor walking up for an annual unannounced visit. I realized at that moment I was about 4 children over my legal child to teacher ratio.
Then I woke up
When I told that story to a group of seasoned child care providers like myself, I found out that I wasn’t the only one having that recurring nightmare. Several other providers had experienced it too. Even though we were always very careful to maintain proper ratios, we still had the dream.
That was at least 15 years ago and I’m still in the field of early childhood education today. In fact I've been teaching very young children for over 40 years now.
I know that child to teacher ratios are one of the biggest factors fueling the child care crisis the US faces today. Great centers have great ratios. Centers with great ratios also have less teacher turnover and more teacher support.
I also know that great centers with great ratios and low teacher turnover are usually very expensive and have long waiting lists. And most parents can’t afford them anyway. Great child care opportunities for the upper class are wonderful. But they don’t solve the problems faced by most of the teachers, parents and children who depend on child care to work.
Knowing what they know at the Harvard University Center on the Developing Child about brain development during the first few years of life and the need for nurturing relationships, this really sucks.
It sucks for child care educators, administrators and parents of children needing care.
But it’s the worst for the children whose parents can’t afford to pay and the children of the teachers who can’t afford to stay.
We need to stay strong together for those children because those children don’t yet have a voice.
I represent a non-profit organization based on building more empathy in the world starting with our youngest citizens. Children need positive attention in order to develop empathy properly. It only makes sense if we want a better, more peaceful world.
The organization is called early childhood rocks and you can find more information here.
If you're interested in empathy building through teaching problem solving, inclusion and nonviolent communication, learn about our PLAN for action here.
Thanks for stopping by! I try to keep my articles short because we’re all so busy. I hope you back for more
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! (click on the word) 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 has presented at statewide and nationwide conferences. She lives and teaches in Madison WI.