I've been in the field of early childhood care and education for over 40 years now and I have to admit that I have no idea what's going to happen next.
I know that there are over 23 million young children under the age of five in the US. And I know their brains are undergoing rapid and prolific changes that will affect the way they interact with the world for the rest of their lives. In fact, 2019 findings:
“ illuminate the importance of the first two years of life in establishing brain structure that sets a foundation for long-term language development in early childhood." (Gaab, Zuck 2019)
I know that there are over 2 million people in the US who consider themselves early childhood teachers and over 6 million that consider themselves parents.
I also know that the people we traditionally entrust to care for 6.7 million young children under the age of 5 are leaving the field in droves.
The question is, who’s going to care or the children? I wish I had the answer for that.
Elite early childhood educators and parents have known the importance of this time in the lives of young children for a long time but it appears science is catching up and it’s astounding.
So now what? Here's what I think.
Respect our early childhood educators and parents. Believe the scientific research, even if it's a hard pill to swallow.
Break down any walls that exist between parents and providers. Higher quality child care always means more transparent communication. Our children need and deserve high quality at any expense.
Watch these videos from The Center For The Developing Child at Harvard. Use them to bring early childhood educators and parents together. They can help you remember just how important you are to the world.
It's clear. We need to provide young children with experiences and relationships that are nurturing, stable, and engaging early on. Infants and toddlers are too important to left to custodial care.
Yet early childhood infant teachers make around 15.00 per hour. Less than a living wage.
There is no easy answer to this overwhelming problem but it's obvious now that the issue can no longer be ignored or swept under the rug.
Early childhood rocks is a non-profit organization dedicated to enacting positive change through early childhood experiences. We promote experiences that are inclusive and multi-sensory.
Join us and get lots of free stuff that can bring parents and providers together on a mission. Your welcome gift is a 22-page slideshow for parents and providers on How to Get Kids to Listen Without Yelling orTime-Outs!
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.
Zuk, Jennifer, et al. “White Matter in Infancy Is Prospectively Associated with Language Outcome in Kindergarten.” 2019, https://doi.org/10.1101/781914.
“Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University.” Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, 4 Dec. 2017, https://developingchild.harvard.edu/.