Are you a professional, high-quality, early childhood educator? If so, I'm so glad you're here today. But I have a question for you. What do you call yourself?
Teacher, Caregiver, Childcare Provider, Nanny, Babysitter, Head Start Teacher, or Staff? It gets so confusing and isn't helpful to parents or the rest of the world that we don't have official titles.
How about our teaching and learning spaces? Are they classrooms, early childhood education centers, preschools, daycare, nursery schools, family childcare, or parent centers? There is no official consensus.
In the spirit of consistency, I'm going to call professional, high-quality early childhood educators "my favorite people". You know who you are. You're the most underpaid, dedicated people to ever have a hand in changing the world. And I appreciate you.
Enjoy today's article. In it, you'll get the exact words to use to make sure the world knows who we are, what we're up to, and how we expect to be treated.
To My Favorite People,
Do you identify as a high-quality, professional early childhood educator? Good, so do I. We’re in this boat together.
You and I both know that the time is now to change the world through early childhood education. We know that because Brain science has known the impact of the experiences children receive in their first few years since the early 90s.
Now we’re at a crossroads. If high-quality early childhood experiences matter that much, Don’t the people who provide them matter, too?
You absolutely matter that much to me.
Over the years, I’ve developed a philosophy of equity and inclusion. I’ve used emotions to spark learning through multi-sensory experiences and play. I’ve studied higher-level thinking and learned exactly how to boil it down and condense the language in order to best teach empathy and create peace with the very young.
I’ve had to develop intentional language to use in order to convey the importance of what I do. Here are just a few examples of words I use to set boundaries with empathy. I hope they help you as much as they’ve helped me.
I'm a professional, high-quality early childhood educator.
This is as real as a job can get.
I stand by the National Association for Young Children's Developmentally Appropriate Practices.
I'm an early childhood professional, not a babysitter. I've never sat on a baby in my life!
Emotions spark learning.
Play is the universal language.
During the first few years of life, young children develop a million new brain connections every second. That’s according to the Center for the Developing Child at Harvard.
I believe that equity in early childhood can change the world in a positive way!
I see you, Rajesh. I see you cooking. I bet it’s going to be good!
Listen to the room…. This is what peace sounds like. Everyone’s getting along, learning, and playing together. I like this!
It looks like you two friends are having a problem. Oh. What do you think we should do?
Oh. Is that OK? No? Then what do you think? Is that OK with you? No? OK, then I’ll hold the object you're having a problem over and you two can work it out. Come back when you’ve decided on something.
I don’t let anyone hit me.
I don’t let anyone disrespect me.
Good people come in all different sizes, shapes, colors, genders, abilities, and ages.
All good families don’t look exactly alike. That's what makes them special.
I understand that you’re angry. Your eyebrows are going like this and your body is tense. I’m not going to let you go after Mary to get the ball but I will help you get a turn. You have 2 choices. You can come with me to the climbing area to wait or you can go to Ms. Penny in the quiet play area.
The statements above all fit into my special PLAN for peace and equity. Here’s what it looks like in a nutshell.
Problem-solving instead of blame
Learning about others instead of lumping them into categories based on bias.
I’m in a position to attest to the feasibility of this plan. I’ve been using it for over 20 years.
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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.