There is a pretty common misconception in society that teachers in early childhood settings are “daycare workers” or “babysitters.” This couldn’t be further from the truth, and is quite frustrating for those of us working in the field. What we know and what we do far exceeds just taking care of children and meeting their basic needs. In this blog, I’ll break early childhood education and educators down and define them.
What is it?
There are four main stages of education: early childhood, elementary, secondary, and post secondary. Early Childhood Education is typically a group setting that is designed to affect developmental changes in children from birth to the age of 5, by using developmentally appropriate practices to create purposeful and meaningful curriculum. Early experiences and interactions in warm and nurturing environments are essential to healthy brain development. The brain develops more rapidly in the first three years than in any other time of life. In the first year alone, it doubles in size, and will be 90% of it’s full size by the age of 5. ECE makes sure the brain and body is supported during this stage of life.
The cool ”science-y” stuff
A newborn baby is born with every neuron (brain cell) they’ll ever have in their life. The connections between these brain cells (synapses) help us to do everything, thinking, communicating, moving, etc. In the early years, at least a million new connections are formed every second, more than any other time in our lives. These connections are needed for important, higher-level abilities like motivation, self-regulation, problem solving, and communicating. During the first years these connections are formed – or not formed, and affect our lives moving forward.
What is an Early Childhood Educator?
Quality Early Childhood Educators are highly experienced and educated. This is an actual profession with college degree programs available. We have degrees, certifications, and lots of ongoing continuing education. We know the developmental stages children go through, how their brains grow and learn, what their bodies are capable of, and how to teach and facilitate learning in all developmental areas. We are definitely not “just” daycare providers or babysitters. More than all of that, teachers in this field must be compassionate, loving, creative, flexible, and willing to adapt. This field and the science behind it are constantly evolving and we all know the dispositions of children are ever changing as well.
Infant Nursery Supervisor