Recently I was on a Facebook group for Child Care providers in Oregon. Preschool teachers, classroom teachers and Child Care owners all participate here. “Why should parents place their children in care? Does anyone have any articles on this?” For real, there are no mommy blogs on this. So here is my “Child Care Provider Blog,” on the subject.
During the pandemic, it was crystal clear why children need an outside source, a teacher outside of the home. Let’s start as children began to come back slowly after the pandemic. Children who came back had clear signs of experiencing trauma. In our program we watched as children experienced crisis of housing, food scarcity, job loss for one of both parents, adults under stress because of all these reasons and they felt alone and isolated as they never left the home. As students came back to school, they would ask about their friends. “Where is Molly?” The forlorn look of sadness in their faces was heartbreaking, like they had lost them forever.
Children crave the learning experiences their peers provide. The stability of the constant flow of information from peers and teachers. The safety friends bring who are growing and making mistakes along side them. It is like a four year journey of Survivor where students hope they don’t get removed from their island, lol. They have the same partners in learning for each day and they joyfully look forward to those experiences. Our children are learning social skills at an early age and are falling in love with learning and budding friendships. So how do children do this?
Playing in the dirt, making mud pies with a friend, climbing the highest “castle” to yell and see if their voice will reach to the farthest part of the play yard, poking a friend with a stick just to watch the reaction, taking a book from the shelf or from a friend- these experiences grow the minds and give stability and comfort their young hearts crave. Preschool students love being able to stretch their limits, try out new boundaries all within the comfort of those doing the same things.
During my digging I found some amazing articles on how these early experiences actually reduce the need for special education classes as children age. This makes sense to me as an educator. The early building blocks are laid down quickly with peers around to challenge and engage with. Like, “Iron sharpens iron,” so our preschoolers sharpen each others experiences. With quality teachers, these enriching activities fill in gaps they might have otherwise not filled in as quickly. Students love to compete with each other and conflicts do arise. But conflict is a GOOD THING! It provides opportunity to learn and fill in those vital gaps children are born with but need filled in to be a successful adult.
My other half of 25 years recalled days where he had special education classes for reading. He remembers getting pulled out of class, walking by the tables of boys who were laughing and engaging with each other. He felt so isolated and alone. Preschool, at least at Bend Preschool, is a time when letters, colors and numbers are introduced. Children learn to recognize letters, produce sounds and begin pre-reading activities. These simple pieces help students avoid pull out classes and the repercussions that reverberate into adulthood. By investing in Child Care, you are putting early learning in place to avoid possible pull out classes later.
One of my favorite resources, chalked full of data helps family explore the science behind Child Care. No matter what scientific study you are seeking, chances are you will find it there. There is a great quick quiz parents can take to learn a little more about your knowledge of ECE. Inside this resource there are many additional links to studies and articles surrounding our field and the strengths you are building into your child by choosing a quality Early Childhood program.
While the pandemic has produced many challenges for us as Child Care providers, businesses shuttering their doors (some of my favorite colleagues that were decades old have closed), finances being tight, not having materials readily available that we need, it is clear – we have chosen the right profession. One that leaves our “finger prints,” on the world. One that will help the future generation of our City build strong leaders, who are willing to explore our world and not be afraid of conflict. May the kids of this generation be a blessing to the next generation because of educators who were not afraid to carry the torch of play and let kids explore within the boundaries.