Welcoming Children and Families: A Family Resource Guide

Personal Introduction

My name is Brook Snook and I come from Idaho. My hobbies include drawing and reading storybooks, especially those that involve young children. I enjoy interacting with children for they inspire my world with their innocent nature. I have worked with children for the last three years, as a professional in various institutions in New York before my family relocated to Virginia. My experience with children goes back to my days in high school, where during long vacations, I volunteered to serve in one of the early childhood education centers within my locality. The school was called “Little Angels Nest”, and the children in the school became so fond of me that they and their families nicknamed me “Cool Angel.” My experience in the school influenced my decision to venture in the early childhood profession. Children are the most innocent creatures I know, and I love interacting with them and helping them to maintain their innocent nature. Interacting with children also provides me with a chance to supplement their innocence with positive values such as honesty, kindness, love, humility, and generosity among other values. My best group is children between the age of four and eight because they have just known how to communicate and relate with others. At this age, it becomes so easy to teach a child how to differentiate between a virtue and a vice. Consequently, it offers a chance to shape the character of the child, make the child a better person in the future, and thus build a humane society. I have a passion for early childhood education, I am very patient, especially with children and I believe I am creative enough to inspire a life judging from how I use my drawings to communicate and impart knowledge among children. I am also very flexible, which enables me to adjust to the various needs of children, possess excellent communication skills, and besides, I understand that children are different. I believe that all a child needs during the development stages to become an independent person in the future is an instructor, a conducive environment for learning, and a supportive family.

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Importance of Early Learning

To many parents, the importance of childcare is to give them a chance to work and earn a living for their families. However, there exist several benefits that result from giving children quality childcare. First, research indicates that the early years contribute substantially to the brain development of a child. Experts believe that ninety percent of brain development occurs between the ages of zero to five years. Therefore, child caregivers have an essential role in shaping children’s minds. Studies also show that children who undergo quality childcare begin school with better social, math, and language skills. The skills give the child confidence and hence a good start in school and thus, are more likely to succeed in school. Taking a child to quality childcare where the child is safe and loved also gives the parent some peace of mind while away hence reduced stress. Generally, giving quality childcare to children benefits not only the children but also families, employers, community, and the nation at large since quality childcare fosters a healthy and successful workforce in future, which is crucial for the well-being of society.  

Theories of Early Childhood Development

Jean Piaget’s Theory

The argument is based on the principles that a child’s personality develops in four different stages in which the children’s thinking changes qualitatively at each stage (Şentürk, 2017). The stages include sensorimotor, pre-operational, concrete operations, and formal operational stages. The theory focuses on the cognitive development of children and Piaget proposed that all children are active learners and thus, must be allowed to explore, discover, and experiment. It is, therefore, advisable that children in a classroom be engaged in different activities to facilitate their learning and exploration of nature. 

Albert Bandura’s Theory 

Bandura’s theory is based on the principles that learning happens gradually and continuously while development follows a sequence of particular conditional behaviors. The approach focuses on the environment and not heredity. Bandura believed that observable behaviors were most important since children imitate behaviors from older people who interact with them (Şentürk, 2017). It is, therefore, appropriate that caregivers behave in a manner that is appropriate to society since the children are more likely to follow their actions. Caregivers should create a culture of ethical behavior among all children in the classroom since children also imitate their peers.

Typical and Atypical development

One way of differentiating between atypical and typical development is by observing the development milestones of how a child is developing and comparing with the knowledge of how a child should typically develop (Burchinal et al., 2010). For example, in an early childhood classroom, typical development milestones include children wanting to please or be like their friends. Therefore, a child who seems withdrawn, inactive, or does not respond to friends is a sign of atypical development. Culture also influences how children respond emotionally and socially when interacting with their peers. In this case, it is wise to identify the culture of a child before classifying their development as typical or atypical. 

Environment

Children should learn in an environment that supports different activities to encourage their explorative nature. A different section of the room is fitted with suitable equipment and labeled with the activity that should take place in the area. For example, there is a place for changing and the area is equipped with high chairs. The room is also spacious enough to prevent children from bumping into each other during vigorous indoor activities. The various sites contribute to the overall growth of the children and give the caregiver the ability to observe the activities of the child and identify their interests. 

Classroom Layout

https://i.pinimg.com/originals/cc/b6/e4/ccb6e41dff42f72ae06d1f258b95be7b.jpg

Cognitive

Caregivers should allow children to interact with others and observe their problem-solving methods since it contributes to their ability to think. Children should also interact with different equipment on their own without the interference of the caregiver. The caregiver’s role is to ensure that the child is safe and only join the child after the child has identified or indicated some skill that the caregiver can help them to put more effort and develop the skill. Cognitive abilities can be observed from how a child sorts shapes, fills toys with sand, and moves them to different locations among other activities.

Social Skills

The caregivers are also to observe the interactions between children and even the interaction between an adult and the children. Since children learn by imitating, caregivers ought to engage in acts like sharing materials, apologizing when they make mistakes, and playing together with the children. Moreover, the caregivers should intercede when children are fighting and make them say sorry to one another. It is the responsibility of the caregivers to help the children manage their emotions. Areas like the fine motor area and eating area are meant for children to come together and interact.

Language

In the classroom, the caregivers facilitate language development by talking with children and asking them questions so that they may answer. The caregivers should also sing along with children so that they can imitate their body and mouth movements. The class also has models of bigger sentences for the children to read. The teachers should also take turns when conversing with the children to allow them to reply and should encourage them to use both verbal communication and body language. During class hours, the teachers will speak naturally and avoid baby talk when talking to the children.

Physical

Most activities in the class involve moving from one point to another or moving body parts and thus, promoting the development of physical skills. The movements help the children to build muscles, which are necessary for the development of the tripod grasp. For example, moving the sand from one place to another or filling toys with sand and pouring all the sand down encourages physical development.

Families

Families play a significant role in the development of children. Having strategies in class that help engage family members with the children helps to facilitate communication between parents, teachers, and the children, thus, making it easy to identify the talents and interests of the children. One way of ensuring that families are aware of their children’s progress is by hosting special events regularly and inviting families (ARTHUR MACEWAN, 2015). The school can also encourage peer networking among families and inviting parents to attend classroom activities with the children occasionally. Caregivers can learn about what is going on at a child’s place by having conversations with children, especially those that seem to behave weirdly. Should the teacher identify a problem that is affecting a child, the teacher should summon the parents and talk on how to protect the child from family issues.

Family Resources:

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  • https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/childdevelopment/index.html This website provides information on the development of children and information on developmental milestones and red flags. 
  • https://www.zerotothree.org/resources/series/your-child-s-development-age-based-tips-from-birth-to-36-months  This website has parenting tips and resources that are based on child development research.
  • https://www.naeyc.org/our-work/for-families This website provides support to families and teachers, resources such as what to look for when choosing a childcare center, and research-based information on child development and developmentally appropriate practices.  

References

Arthur Macewan. (2015). Early Childhood Education, Economic Development, and the Need for Universal Programs: With a Focus on New England. Economics, Management & Financial Markets, 10(1), 11–47.

Burchinal, M., Vandergrift, N., Pianta, R., & Mashburn, A. (2010). Threshold analysis of association between childcare quality and child outcomes for low-income children in pre-kindergarten programs. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 25(2), 166-176.Şentürk, C. (2017). Science literacy in early childhood. Journal of Research & Method in Education, 7(1), 51-67.

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