Stuck in a paradox of knowing, yet ineffectively enacting change, professionals in the early childhood field find themselves patching the holes of an infrastructure that is ready to crumble… (Retrieved from: https://class.waldenu.edu)
These powerful words, taken from the first discussion prompt in module 1, set the tone for what I am sure will be an enlightening semester and one that challenges me to delve into an area of early childhood education that I have not explored before. It is unfamiliar territory and just a little bit scary.
I will confess that my knowledge and experience with early childhood policies and systems is rather limited. As I read the resources in this first module, I felt overwhelmed. I had to read the chapters of the course text more than once, trying to break the information down and relate it to my own work in the field before I could assimilate it. I was looking for something to hold onto that could help me get a footing in this complex terrain.
As I began to contemplate three goals that might assist me in becoming more effective in my professional role, I realized that my own lack of familiarity with policies and systems was probably shared by others who, like me, have focused on work inside the classroom. As a teacher, I have focused my attention on nurturing children and supporting families—with only a passing nod at the policies and systems that rule the field. It also occurred to me that families of young children (who are the true stakeholders here) are, perhaps, similarly unfamiliar with the policies and systems that will surely impact them on the most fundamental level.
With these thoughts in mind, I selected these three goals for myself:
- To establish a good foundation of knowledge about the history of early childhood systems—how they began and how they evolved. Achieving this goal will help me to build an understanding of EC systems “from the ground up” and relate it to current and future systems
- To identify and understand the policies and systems in my own state—to discover who is “calling the shots” in my own backyard, how they are influencing the early childhood field, and how their thinking aligns (or not) with other states. Achieving this goal will allow me to enter into dialogue and to question public policies that impact young children and families
- To examine early childhood systems and policies with the spotlight on developmentally appropriate practices (and common sense) and to share my findings both within the early childhood field and beyond. Achieving this goal will help me to advocate for young children and families, shedding light on policies that are developmentally inappropriate and harmful to young children
As I contemplate these goals and this course, I can feel the excitement building. I know this course will be challenging, but it holds the promise of giving me the tools I need to begin to form and articulate my own vision of what early childhood education could be—and that, to me, is thrilling.