Early Childhood Educators Rock The World!
Do you take care of our youngest? If so you're one of my favorite people in the world. I see why you might be feeling frustrated right now. Your work is hard and the children you care for are a mixed bag. Family communication can also be hard.
On top of that you're probably paid only a small fraction of your worth according to the level of responsiblity and accountability you hold.
I know these things because I do what you do. I’ve been in the field of early childhood education for over 40 years now. And I still teach. Toddlers are my latest specialty so I can relate to frustration and feeling tired out by them both physically and emotionally. I can also relate to the joy of teaching them to communicate in an empathetic and non-violent way from the very beginning.
So much is in our hands. I don’t want you to feel helpless or burnt-out. You matter so much to the world. I’ve learned many lessons over years of training, education and experience. One of them is this.
Take better care of yourself and you’ll be able to better care for others.
Realize that as you care for young children, you’re planting the seeds for resilience to violence. You do so by teaching:
Problem-solving instead of blame
Learning about others individually instead of lumping them into categories based on bias
Non-violent communication instead of bullying.
I call that a PLAN for peace.
The seeds that you sow have so much power to change the world. That's because of this current brain research.
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-
Some of you may know about the assault in Alabama on teaching equity through use of the NAEYC manual, Developmentally Appropriate Practice For Early Childhood Programs, 4th edition. This manual has been the most important resource in early childhood education since 1987. Last week, Dr. Barbara Cooper was forced out of her position as Secretary of Early Childhood Education in Alabama by the Governor.
She was fired for her endorsment and use the DAP manual because the 4th edition identifies systemic racism and encourages equity in early childhood programs.
I’m not going to point fingers or blame any one individual for this atrocity. The best educators in the nation use this manual and I don’t see how anyone who’s not in the field could condemn it.
Here’s a link to a NAEYC page where you can register your protest to this bogus, racist move.
That's what non-violent communication is all about. Taking action. Here’s a link to an article describing the issue if you're interested.
So, if you believe in equity and you know the importance of the experience children recieve during their earliest years, let's stick together and support each other. Join me here, it's free.
I get that positive guidance and developmentally appropriate boundary setting are two of the biggest challenges in early childhood education.
You can find many more concrete ideas about problem-solving, learning, and non-violent communication on my blog, here.
If you want to learn more about early childhood and brain research, check out our homepage here.
Early Childhood Rocks is a nonprofit organization dedicated to changing the world through early childhood education
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 lives and teaches in Madison WI.
“Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University.” Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, 4 Dec. 2017, https://developingchild.harvard.edu/.
Derman-Sparks, Louise, et al. Anti-Bias Education for Young Children and Ourselves. National Association for the Education of Young Children, 2020.
Rosenberg, Marshall B. Non-Violent Communication: A Language of Life: Create Your Life, Your Relationships & Your World in Harmony with Your Values. Puddle Dancer, 2003.
Shore, Rima. Rethinking the Brain: New Insights into Early Development. Families and Work Institute, 2003.