Early Childhood Education
Children are the future stars of our generation and they need every opportunity that they need in their early stage of life. Early childhood education is one of the most demanding courses in today’s generation. This is the age of opportunities and almost every parent are busy with their works so they want their kids to be in the safe place, where they cannot only offer a childcare but also good situations for child development, safety protections, sound environment, and overall support for the kids.
In many under developed or developing countries, the early childhood education is not as popular as it is in developed countries. So, it is also one reason behind that many international students of United States universities do not prefer to take this major.
But there have been many controversies about the early childhood major and the payment of the teachers in every part of the world. Still now many people think that they get paid very less than other professions. That’s why the early childhood educator should be paid equally and satisfactorily.
Early Childhood Education: It Must be Treated Equally with Other Professions
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The need of child care is increasing every day. People are engaged in jobs and services and they don’t have time to look after their children. If children are sent to preschool then the children become more advanced, their sense of maturity also grows more efficiently, they become more independent, self reliant, and can become more social and understand the world in a better way. So, the need of child care or preschools with equal facilities and full protection, proper care, education, etc is important.
According to Oun, Ugaste & Niglas (2008), professors at Tallinn University, Estonia
The basic aim of the preschool institution is to create good opportunities and conditions for each child’s well being, create a stimulating environment for the child’s comprehensive development and learning while taking into account their age, gender and individual features. (p. 84)
Thus, children are the future stars of our new generation. That’s why there is great demand for early childhood teachers and caregivers in many countries of the world. A good kindergarten was about wholesome, productive activities and healthful literature that are designed to support children’s development (Edwards, 2005, p 135). To become an early childhood educators, people should have a degree or qualifications. Without qualifications, no one can become a teacher
The importance of a competent teacher, especially pointed out by heads of kindergartens, specifies that teacher’s personality and their professional competence becomes increasingly more important for the children for their development. Other than the changing of the job title, the preparation and level of early childhood teaching is now carried out by universities and they are also establishing higher education at bachelor’s level (Oun, Ugaste and Niglas, 2008).
To become a legal teacher for early children, it takes same amount of time and cost as it needs to get a degree on other profession as a business administrator. But there is the vast difference between the earning of these two professions. According to a 2004 study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Preschool teachers reported a median annual income in 2004 of $20,980 (Worldwide Learn, 2005). And the average salary for a typical Accounting director in the Unites States is $115,233 (Salary Wizard). So, we can see such a vast difference between the salaries of these two professions.
The double pressures of unsatisfactory salary and conditions and the commercialization of the sector have contributed to a fixed, possibly inexorable, decrease in the proportion of staff in long day care with teaching qualification (Jennifer, 2007, p.312). People with the early childhood major are not paid equally as other professions even though it takes same time and cost to do both the major.
There is much child care or preschool, where the cost is very expensive but the teachers and the care givers are paid less than the requirement. So, there have been many controversies regarding this field of early childhood education. Due to this, many students who take this major also drop this class after certain period of time as they get influenced by their friends or family members. Many people think that teaching little is a natural process of the women’s work rather than her university degree and knowledge.
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There is a kind of traditional or ongoing form from the early time that early childhood educators have been specially women and we find very rarely male educators for little children. Many people also think that because of this gender inequality, there is no such priority for early childhood major. Marsha Odom, an associate professor and the department of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences Dept said:
Education for primary has been women and women have been traditionally paid less. If men were working in this field, then this couldn’t happen. American doesn’t value their children as much as other societies. And the government also doesn’t give as much funding as other countries does. For an example, in France or other European countries, the preschool teachers are paid equal to the high school’s teachers and they give strong priority for early childhood education. But here in America, the payment system is different as compared to other nation. They pay differently for preschool, high school, and public school’s educators (M., Odom, personal communication, April 5, 2008)
Thus, we can know that it is a traditionally related phenomenon that women are paid less than men not only in America but also in many other countries. And in many parts of the world, even women are not allowed to work outside of their home and they have to be a house wife looking after their kids and the household work. According to Knitzer (2008), said:
Overall estimates are that 57% of women with children younger than 3 are working; including 40% of low-income women who work full-time. Finding safe, high quality child care is a challenging regardless of income, but for low-income families it is especially problematic with respect to both access and quality. (p.23)
That is also the reason why this major is not popular. But now things have changed in every way. Now even women are coming forward and they do everything that man can do. Their thinking and attitude towards the world and their life have changed and they want to be more independent and get along with the rest of the world.
That’s why we can predict easily that early childhood major would probably be more like other professions and the priority for the children would also increase in the same way as the price of the product increases in the business. And we can always see the hope of rising rather than feeling scared that one day his or her business would go down. In this major the children are the main factor and everyone knows that children are the future stars and without new generation, there is no world, nothing in this universe.
Background in Developed and Developing Countries
Early childhood has especially rises in the developed countries such as the U.S.A, the United Kingdom, Japan, Korea, Russia, etc. Packer and Jalongo (2003), in their book have said:
Of course, the “burning” issues of our day are not really new. Some of these debates-such as what and how to teach very young children began in the 19th century and continue today in much the same form as they did when the committee of nineteen of the International kindergarten Union was forced to issue reports because it could not come to consensus on the kindergarten curriculum in the early 1900s. (p.9)
The debate regarding what early education should be continues even today. There are many issues regarding this major and how it is perceived in many countries like the USA, and many Asian countries. Feldman (2007), a professor at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst said in his book called Child Development:
The United States has no coordinated national policy on preschool education or on the care of children in general. There are several reasons for this. For one, decisions about education have traditionally been left to the states and local school districts. For another, the United States has no tradition of teaching preschoolers, unlike other countries in which preschool-age children have been enrolled in formal programs for decades. Finally, the status of preschools in United States has been traditionally low. Consider, for instance, that preschool and nursery school teachers are the lowest paid of all teachers.
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It has not been a problem only in the USA. Its controversies are growing in most parts of the world. For example, in my country, Nepal, there is degree for teachers but not specifically for early childhood education. That is why there is not much demand for this major and many people keep their children in their home until the children become the age of three. After that, they are sent to school where they educate from nursery to grade ten. Oun, Ugaste and Niglas (2008), said:
To bring up citizens who are developed in every respect, loyal to their homeland, immersed with communist morale, capable of work and defense, healthy and resilient Daycare centre has to be a living example of the proper rearing of preschool children and assist parents with carrying out childrearing at home. (p.86).
To fulfill these needs, the participation of the teachers is very crucial and necessary. Because of these thoughts also there is a misconception about this major especially in the poor and under developed countries like Nepal, African countries, India, Bangladesh and many more. But many countries support for the establishment of early childhood education centers.
For example, according Oberhuemer (2004), diversity of services, organization structures and programs are the main characteristics of the early childhood sector in Germany. In this way, we should be considered the important of such schools where the children can get every opportunity become a good student.
Qualification of early childhood teachers
The most important aspect of the Early Childhood Education is the quality of the teachers. Sykes (2003), an Executive Director of the Early Childhood Leadership Institute at the University of the District of Columbia, said that, “ as teacher educators, we need to make a more responsive, developmentally appropriate approach to teacher training for people in Head Start and other community-based program.
It’s the only way we can make sure to prepare everyone who truly has a calling to teach young children”. The love for the kids is also very important for one to become a teacher for early childhood. If some one has no love for the little kids then there is a possibility that he or he won’t prove to be a good teacher.
Nowadays, there is more demand for the diverse teachers who can create diversity in the class too. This is one disadvantage to become a teacher for early childhood education. For an example, according to Brown, “ both learners and teachers of a second language need to understand culture differences, to recognize openly that not everyone in the world is ‘just like me’, that people are not all the same beneath the skin”(cited in Pappamihiel, 2004). Teachers should be aware of the diverse children and should enjoy the diversity in the class.
People think that they need more efforts to teach to children from other cultures and it’s also another reason behind that many people don’t prefer to take this major. Each student should be considered as equal and they should be treated in the same manner. The teacher should know many basic emotional attachments that would make the students more comfortable. Actually people should forget about the difficulty of teaching to multi culture children and they should be happy to learn other cultures, which add an extra point in their career.
It is very important for future generations to learn to tolerate and be educated about different cultures and languages. In one journal of Early Child Development and Care, Professor Pappamihiel of Florida State University wrote, “it is important to learn about their culture and make the necessary accommodations to my instruction and lessons.
I think it really shows that I care if I am interested in learning about their culture and interested in learning how to communicate with them in their native language even on such a small level”( 2004). This thinking of the writer would motivate teachers to do well in their fields.
Early childhood teachers have to deal with many things around expectations of teaching the children, like dealing with little children with care, providing them food, playing with them, organizing various programs and dealing with the parents. It is really hard to deal with the parents, if something goes against of their will.
According to the staff of kindergarten, the difficulties of collaboration are mainly because of the parents rather than children (Oun, Ugaste and Niglas, 2008). To cooperate with the parents of the children is very essential; the parents are very concerned about their children since they are little and innocent about many thing in this world. To deal with different issues regarding the personal issues at home and other professional issues, the early childhood major tends to go backward more than other professions.
Responsibilities of pre-teacher
Many people think teaching is an average job and many people around poor sectors take in mind, that when someone cannot become any big person like a doctor, engineer, scientist, etc then their last option is to become a teacher. People’s opinions are psychologically affected by this kind of stereotype and they feel like not going in this major. But some people might have to personal problems too.
For example, if I talk about myself then I can say that I really like little children and always want to help the kids. But being from very conservative family, I have to look after my family too when I become older and start a career. In my culture, we have a big responsibility for the family support. Many people think that I should join some other major, from which I can have a good income and can maintain a good economy condition in my family. In this way, besides me there might be a million of other people who have the willingness to do something like me and don’t have many options in their life.
It would be a very challenging job, if individuals are paid satisfactorily and have more opportunities in this field. The school for early childhood is very essential because it is the root of their future development. If the child gets good support from the preschool then there is a maximum chance that the children would develop into a good adult. In many under developed or developing countries, the early childhood education is not as popular in developed countries or given the priority by government.
They get little importance from the government, so it is also one reason behind that many international students in the United States universities do not prefer to take this major. There are some preschools where they take care of the children and provide them some sort of general knowledge, but there is lack of prefect preschools where the children would feel at home. According to (NICHD) Early Child Care Research Network, there are some problems regarding the quality of education. Some institutes provide intellectual and social benefits; whereas, some low quality institutes not only are unlikely to furnish benefits, but poor programs actually may harm children (Feldman, 2007).
If the government or law of the countries would provide a little bit more priority to this field then it would be a very exigent major, which would benefit both the children and the parents. We can assume that now days the growth rate of child care and preschool are increasing at the same rate and the need of the teachers would also be increasing. That’s why no one should lose their hope to drop this major and they should take everything on the positive side.
Acceptance and satisfaction
To become an early childhood educator, one needs to understand the children very well. Teachers should be aware of the children’s level of development; their level of caring and educating them should be an organized and sound environment. It’s a challenging job, as the teachers have to accept the fact that they should devote their time and caring for the children in an individual basis.
They also need extra time and help in the school. As the small children are very innocent and they don’t understand the context fully, so the educator should use certain facial expressions and symbols to convert their sentences into meaningful ways that the children can understand them well. Since children are very flexible and truthful, the teachers have to be very careful to give the right information, whenever they ask them a question.
It is more complicated to deal with English as Second Language (ESL) students. To have a caring relationship, the teachers should try to listen carefully to what the child has to say. Even though it is hard at times, the teacher should try to take the time out to listen to their stories and just what they have to say.
Additionally, it is more important for the ESL students as they need to feel that the teacher is making the effort to try and communicate and understand them (Pappamihiel, 2004, p.545). These issues are very minor for the individual, who really likes little children and has willingness to teach the children. The most important thing to know is that the teacher really loves and cares for their students.
Therefore, many people like to do teachers but as they come across such situations their realize that they really need to love the kids before they start to teach them. So, people should have to think before doing anything in their life. Teachers, especially the early childhood teachers have to be related to children’s skills levels at kindergarten entry and be related to children’s educational development after school entry.
Teachers have significant role in explaining socio-economic gaps in children’s learning and they have be very careful not be significantly associated with racial/ethnic differences in children’s learning after socioeconomic background is adjusted (Cheadle, 2008, p.22). There are many benefits of the job as it is interesting and an easy job as compare to doctor or engineer. The timing of these job is very reliable and systematic.
Teachers get vacations and lots of rest as compare with other professions. They get to learn new ideas and skills every day by dealing with different children and activities. So, during the break, they can have more time with their family and the most important fact is that they can rare their children in a very good manner with education and manners.
In conclusion, it can be stated that even though there have been lots of issues, controversies and problems, the early childhood education is very necessary major as compare to other major. Because every child has their right to go school and every parent want their children to grow in the cooperative environment. There is a saying that, “Everything I learned, I leaned in kindergarten” (unknown).
That’s why early childhood education lays foundation for knowledge, behavior, attitudes, and skills and establishes expectations and routine. In this way, people should imagine the world without preschool and early childhood teachers and realize that how important is to have preschools and teachers. So, regarding this fact, the government of the country should take a serious action regarding these issues and try to increase the importance and salary for the early childhood educators.