Topics in Early Childhood Education

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Spring Blossoms

I have a huge apricot tree in my yard. This past week blossoms began appearing, a little early but just as beautiful as they are each year. Of course, the big worry in our area is whether they will survive a late spring freeze which often comes in April. As I was looking at the blossom-covered tree it reminded me of the children in our early childhood classrooms. With the right nourishment and weather conditions they grow and develop and eventually bear fruit. That is, unless a nasty freeze appears and stops the development. In early childhood settings that nasty freeze could come in the form of untrained teachers, watered-down programs and unsupportive parents. Are there other forms of freezes that threaten a child's normal development?

Monday, March 13, 2006

Professional Development

Last week I presented at the Indiana AEYC and the Utah AEYC Conferences. I am always amazed at the effort that many early childhood professionals make to improve their teaching skills. Yes, there were a few participants wandering the halls, spending the entire day in the exhibit hall and talking non-stop on the cell phone. However, these people are the exceptions. I was again impressed with the majority eager learners that were in my workshops. These people do not make much money, but still want to be the best possible influence in a child's life. I recently read an article in the "Principal" magazine which implored principals to put nurturing teachers in early childhood classrooms. The article quoted research that states children in nurturing classrooms achieve more academic successes and have a positive attitude toward school. We all hope that our own children and grandchildren have nurturing teachers who are constantly working toward improving as teachers. I think all parents, even the ones with questionable parenting skills, want to have quality teachers for their child.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

It's a Wrap!

The Utah Legislature will finish up their session for the year tonight (yeah!). Another year of struggling to fund everything and decide where the money is to be spent. Even though our state has a surplus of money, it is still push and shove to get funding for education, although it will get a financial boost this year. However, there is also talk about funding teacher raises according to how their students are performing. In a perfect world, that may work. But most of us in education know that teachers in at-risk schools work very hard, often without parental support, to help the children make small gains. There are also many more affluent schools who have students that will achieve (because of status and parental support) regardless of how good the teacher teaches. It is irresponsible to decide that the teacher in the affluent school should get a bigger raise.
Our governor is also talking all-day kindergarten for at-risk children. A good idea for helping the disadvantaged. At-risk children always need more support, which not only includes opportunity, but also well-trained teachers. At-risk children should have the best teachers, not the left-over teachers and they need to be compensated appropriately.