Take a moment to reflect on what you did when you were 4 & 5, and the expectations adults had for you.
For myself, I spent my early years being cared for by my mom. My days were filled with exploration, discovery, creativity and invention. I played inside and out most of the day. I played in the mud and snow, making marvelous mud pies and snow forts! My mom had tea parties with me, read me stories and let me create different forts from blankets. There were interactions with various other children from the neighborhood when the moms got together for coffee. Expectations for us were to be children… learning how to get along with each other, listening to and being respectful of our parents, and learning from our everyday playing. My kindergarten experience was a 6-week class held in the spring before I entered first grade!
What about most children today? The childhood years are/have changed. According to census data, over 61% of children under the age of 5 are in some type of child care. This change in child care arrangements, along with other changes in our society, has led to different expectations for children, including the necessity for increased school readiness skills and academics. In the past few years, in response to the need for a better prepared workforce, the academic expectations for children entering kindergarten has increased immensely. And the expectations continue to increase.
- How have these changed expectations impacted your responsibilities as an educator and provider?
- What roles do you find yourself playing every day?
- How has your role changed over the years?
- How do you help children get ready for school?
- What do you need to know and do in order to support all areas of a child’s development?
These are questions you need to ask yourself as you continue to provide early childhood education and care.
As an early childhood educator and child care provider, you are responsible for so much more than the safety and personal care of the children in your program. You now share a huge responsibility for making sure they are ready for school – socially, physically and cognitively. In order to support each child, it is important that educators and providers have knowledge and understanding of:
- Child development and childhood milestones
- Developmental domains and early learning standards
- Intentional and purposeful program planning (or curriculum)
- Best practices for early childhood programs including personal, professional development practices.
You are not a babysitter – you are a facilitator of positive development! Making sure you are ‘ready’ to nurture children starts with your own education, training and professional development journey. Take time to plan where you are going, for the sake of the children in your care.
In the coming weeks, watch for Blog articles on the six domains of development, and see how you can impact each child’s development.