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‘Early childhood educators are not glorified babysitters but rather professionals who are committed to the care and education of young children' (Gonzalez-Mena, 2008, pg6). This is the statement that is being questioned by many people. This essay will be discussing and reflecting on what makes an early childhood teacher effective. The points of this essay will be defining what a professional early childhood educator is and what a ‘glorified' babysitter is, government regulations and different early childhood education settings. I will also be writing about my own experience. Appropriate literature will also be evident throughout this essay.
Professional Early childhood educators are people who have some sort of qualification either a degree or a bachelor. Professional Early Educators know what it means to be professional. They understand the significance of confidentiality. A professional is dedicated to what they do and have a great attitude towards their profession which lets people know that they are serious about what they do. When the topic of child abuse arises professional educators know they have a legal authority to report anything that may be suspicious. Even if the teacher does not want to interfere with the families problems he/she must report what she's seen in order to help any child or family going through abuse. They are loyal to working with children and their families. Professional early childhood educators use the skills and knowledge that they have achieved through training. Early childhood professionals are lifelong learners who are always creating and pursuing their goals. Professional early childhood educators are role models they need to be careful of how they portray themselves as actions always teach, (Gonzalez-Mena, 2008). There is a distinctive difference between professional and non-professional teachers.
Glorified babysitters are people who do not have any qualifications. Glorified babysitters are non-professionals. Non-professionals behaviour is decided by personal preference and their sense of wisdom. This means that a glorified babysitter is someone who bases' there care on common sense and knowledge than basing their care on what they have learnt through training. Glorified babysitters go with their instinct rather than the rules of teaching. They go with what they think is the right thing to do. Both glorified and professionals have important qualities that they need to consider before going into this profession.
There are some important qualities for an early childhood teacher to have. These are responsive and reciprocal relationships. Being responsive is giving a child the chance to take the lead is a way of letting the child develop their own thinking skills, instead of us directing the child and telling them how it is done. Being reciprocal is having a balance of power and shared control over whatever the situation may be. Early childhood teachers need to have a positive attitude and respect for the child's ideas and feelings. This is another important quality which is to do with self confidence and self esteem. If the child as done something that is not acceptable then the early childhood teacher needs to focus on the child's behaviour and actions and not on the child itself, (Dunkin, 2001 ).Te Whaariki states that verbal and non-verbal communication skills are needed. An example of this is sharing and offering which is linked to belonging of a child. This means that a child is accepted without being looked down upon because of the child's capabilities, the child is accepted no matter what, (Education, 1996).
This brings me to my next topic which is the child as an individual. Children and families should feel welcomed and safe in their environment that the child is in. This is a sense of knowledge that every early childhood teacher should know. The child needs to feel as though they have been accepted for whom they are, (Education, 1996). Children should not be compared to one another as every child is different and has their own individuality,(Cowper, 2006). There are different aspects of a child's life that influences the child's ability for example culture, gender, language, age, disabilities' and many more, (Gonzalez-Mena, 2008). Recognising each child as an individual is a very important concept as the child needs to feel as though they are being accepted for whom they are. If the teacher does not recognise the child as an individual then that child may feel uncomfortable in the environment and may not settle in well,(Education, 1996). Every child will have different culture and religions that they believe in and the early childhood teacher needs to acknowledge this in order to make the environment that the child is in much more comfortable and welcoming, (Gonzalez-Mena, 2008). The child may have just migrated to New Zealand which makes it very hard for that individual to adapt to a different environment. This is why we have to acknowledge all aspects of the Childs life in order to help them adapt.
When I get asked about what I am doing as a career I get looked down upon very often. People think that because I am doing Early Childhood Teaching that it is not a very rewarding future. I disagree with this reaction as being an Early Childhood Teacher is very rewarding because you can take this Qualification with you anywhere you go, it can lead to so many opportunities and pathways in life for example you can go travelling with this career, you can go into research e.g. nutrition and health for children and many more. With this Qualification I Know that there will always be a need for us as an Early Childhood Teacher because the more children that are being born the more need there will be for Early Childhood Teachers. When I went on practicum a setback I came across was not being able to comfort a child when they were upset. The centre I was at was very independent based so if a child was upset you couldn't comfort them until they had stopped crying. Their theory was that if the child starts crying you should wait until they stop and then comfort them as this teaches the child that they cannot always get what they want if they start to cry.
In my opinion I thought that this theory wasn't correct as we as Early Childhood Teachers are there to support the child not neglect them when they need us the most. My example of this was that in my centre a child who was African had just started coming to this centre. The child found it very difficult to adapt to this new environment and as I was new I didn't really know how this centre dealt with something like this so I went over to her and comforted her as all she would do was cry. I was told to never to do that because it teaches the child they can get anything when they cry which I thought was rude. From this experience I have learnt that every centre is different and have their different rules and regulations of how to do things in that centre. I have learnt that you cannot go into any centre pick up a child and hug them as this may be offensive to that Childs parents. You cannot go into a centre and do things the way you would like to, you have to abide by their rules and learn how to adapt to that type of environment. This was a very big wake up call for me.
In conclusion both professionals and non-professionals take being an Early Childhood Educator as a serious matter. They act professionally whether they have qualifications or not. Both professionals and non-professionals have their differences for example professionals have learnt how to teach and care for a child from training and non-professionals act from what their instincts tell them and what they think is right or wrong. Being reciprocal and responsive are two very important qualities as this helps develop a Childs thinking skills. Being reciprocal and responsive is a way of giving the child a chance to take control instead of being told what is the right way to do things and what is the wrong way, it is a way of sharing the power. The child must be treated as an individual to feel accepted and welcome in the environment. Children are not to be compared to one another as each child is an individual and need to be treated like one. My experience on this topic was that I thought this career did not just take you to a centre to teach it will also lead you to different pathways in life and can also take you travelling. The environment for a child needs to be warm and cuddly so the child feels comfortable.
Cowper, W. (2006). Childrens Individuality. Retrieved 24 August 2009, from http://extension.oregonstate.edu/catalog/pdf/ec/ec1298-e.pdf.
Dunkin, D. (2001 ). Thinking Together. wellington: Council of Education.
Education, M. o. (1996). Te Whaariki Early Childhood Curriculum. Wellington: Ministry of Education.
Gonzalez-Mena, J. (2008). Foundations of Early Childhood Education (Fourth Edition ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.