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To me, being an Early Childhood educator means that you are someone who is going to give your students a new outlook on life. You are going to teach them things that they've never known before and would most likely never learn if you were not there to teach them. The Early Childhood educator is the first role model a child has in the world outside of their home and family.
I believe that children should be taught in the most fun and entertaining way possible. Now structure and discipline must always be upheld, but I think that children do learn best when the information is presented in a way that is interesting to them. I know I pay attention more if a teacher lets the class participate in the activity. Hands-on experiences really do have an effect on children because they learn best through kinesthetic and visuals, not just through auditory. Each teacher should know their children well; each child has their own learning style, some students learn through carrying out a physical activity, rather than listening to a lecture or merely watching a demonstration. I also believe that, along with the state and national standards for teaching, children must be taught the very basic essentials. An example would be if a child is taught basic math but never how to associate adding or subtracting with money, then that child will have a harder time as he or she progresses through school. Children need to be shown and taught the basics that everyone needs for life outside of school; this can include money, social skills, comprehension, etc. Without knowing those skills, the children are going to have to learn them later on in life and it will be harder on them as they didn't know anything about them early on.
A hot topic lately with schools is the large influx of multicultural students. This holds true especially for the border towns, where children from Mexico are coming to our schools. These children and their families are immediately assimilated into our 'American' culture. Instead of forcing diverse cultures to assimilate to what we consider the cultural norm, we should acculturate them. Acculturation is a great way of preserving a student's heritage and culture while still having that student learn and participate in another culture. Instead of 'drowning out' the original culture, it's a method of mixing cultures together and taking bits and pieces from each other, enriching the learning experience even more.
Families can effect a child's early education in many ways. One way would be if the child grew up in a low-income family; odds are this child has never been to a pre-school, may or may not have ever been around any children their own age that were not family members, and these children possibly have never had any type of home education from their parents. Though not always the case, low-income families tend to not have the same amount of time to spend reading and teaching their children as a middle or upper class family would, as they would be too occupied with working to pay the bills. This effects the child because if a child hasn't had that informal teaching, the child will (though not always) be more academically behind than the other children. Families can also have an effect on the children's social skills. Depending on whether the parents were so-called "social butterflies," the children may not have been exposed to many strangers, adults or other children. Social skills are a major component of being in school, especially in the early years. Children need those social interactions to make friends and even to help promote learning. If one child sees another getting praised for doing really well on a paper, most likely that child will try harder so they can get that praise also. However, as an educator, one should never make one child feel like their grade wasn't good enough to receive praise.
Parents are a major factor in education. A teacher has to learn to respect the parent's decisions at all times. Respecting the parents and anything they decide for their children is not always the easiest decision but it is a necessary one. They are the parents of the child; they have the right to tell you what they want done with their child. As an educator you have to be able to make changes to your lesson plans or whatever necessary that will incorporate whatever the parents decided. Parental involvement is a huge deciding factor in a child's success in school. It has been researched and proven that students from all socio-economic statuses achieve better and do better in school when their parents are involved and interested in their education. It is a teachers' job to reach out to the parents and try to get them involved. I can make sure and do this by inviting them to volunteer, having regular parent/teacher conferences-especially when the student is not in trouble because it happens too often that the parents are never contacted until a child does something wrong, and also by just actively communicating with the parents.