For years, the department of education has put emphasis on what children learn beginning in kindergarten on through high school as the relevant education a person receives. That meant choosing the right kindergarten for your child was the most important decision a young parent could make, as it was the beginning of their life as a learner.
That was 20 years ago.
Slowly but surely research is showing us that the formative years of our children, ages 6 months to 5 years old, are the true quintessential times in the development of our youth. So what does that mean? It means that choosing the right kindergarten takes a back seat to an even more important choice; choosing the right daycare.
Yes, Daycare. And believe it or not, this word makes Early Childhood Educators (ECE) cringe because with that word comes the stigmatism that all we do is care for children during the day. That's right, we. I am an Early Childhood Educator. I work in a 3-5 year old room where I prep meals, wipe noses, kiss boo boos, and TEACH. A job I, believe it or not, needed a degree to obtain.
“What do you teach them? ABCs and 123s?” My coworker was asked this question while completing her degree in Human Ecology with a concentration in Child Development. The better question to ask them in return is how did you learn how to tie your shoes? How'd you know to say bless you when somebody sneezes? How'd you learn to write your name, Mom and Dad? Well, the average household has at least one working parent and even more have two. So who teaches them?
I'll paint a picture for you of the educational rigor of my program. The 16 children in my class receive instruction in social skills, letter and number recognition, letter sounds, spelling, calendar recognition, simple math (addition and subtraction) fine motor skills (such as holding a pencil), writing the letters in their names, writing numbers, cutting, coloring, painting, gluing and solving puzzles We also work on communication skills, listening and understanding simple and complex questions, and gross motor skills, which help keep them balanced and in motion. These lessons occur daily.
Twice a year, each child receives an evaluation from their teachers covering the areas of communication, gross motor skills, fine motor skills, problem solving, and personal-social skills. The teachers in my center are the first to sight learning struggles, stunts in growth, and abnormalities in development. At the recommendation of teachers in my center I've watched children receive glasses, speech therapy, physical therapy, and behavior intervention, all of which have resulted in the success of the child.
April 8, 2016 (Fort Meyers, FL)- Brooke Chambers playing with stickers in her home that also serves as her education facility. (Photo Credit: Amanda Chambers)
Gulf Coast Region’s Sweetheart Amanda Chambers is a work from home mom of an almost 3- year old and she finds great value in early childhood education:
"Brooke is advanced because I have worked with her. Even though I haven’t used a set curriculum, I have used educational aids and materials. Books, workbooks, felt boards, imaginary play, flash cards, iPad apps, YouTube videos, PBS cartoons, educational toys, etc. “ Chambers has had conversations with kindergarten teachers who tell her there are areas in which Brooke has surpassed their students in. Even at home, mothers know endless playing and coddling are not all their child needs to be successful.
It is my firm belief that daycares will become a thing of the past and early childhood education will become an interval part of the elementary school program. Daycare providers will be recognized as the teachers they are and finally compensated financially for the work they do (many ECE's barely make above minimum wage).
What do we teach?
We teach children how to be people; people who will one day be the leaders of the world.