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Changes in Society and the Impact on the Field of Early Childhood Education

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CHANGES IN SOCIETY AND THE IMPACT ON THE FIELD OF EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION.

Changes in Society and the Impact on the Field of Early Childhood Education

Jennifer Hendrix

Kaplan University

CE100: Preparing for a Career in Early Childhood Development

Professor Wanda Person

October 10, 2011

Changes in society constantly cause changes in the field of early childhood education. The role of the early childhood professional has changed dramatically over the past several years. The many changes in family structure and the growing diversity of our nation have required the early childhood professional to become more flexible and socially aware than ever before. No longer are most children coming from a traditional two parent family where one parent works and the other stays home to nurture the child and provide a stable home learning environment. More and more children are coming from unique family situations where parents or guardians have less and less time to focus on education, making the role of the early childhood educator more important than ever before. The most important elements of high quality early childhood education are the compensation, consistency, and education and training of child care teachers. (Galinsky, p. 27)

Professionalism is a key factor for the success of the early childhood educator. Past generations viewed early childhood professionals as the teachers in the school house that taught children the core subjects such as reading and writing. In today's diverse world, the early childhood professional can take on many forms, from the teacher in a public school to the home day care provider who keeps children while their parents are working. Because of this, levels of professionalism are varied across the field and are sometimes difficult to define and maintain. It is important for each sector of the profession to create and maintain a set of professional standards from which one can be measured against. Each job within the early childhood profession requires its own skill set and job requirements, which is why it is important to clearly define each roll within the field and maintain a level of professionalism that is consistent with standards set for each profession within this complex career field. Although the roles vary greatly in this field, each professional should live by the code set forth by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, which states that Above all, we shall not harm children. We shall not participate in practices that are disrespectful, degrading, dangerous, exploitative, intimidating, emotionally damaging, or physically harmful to children. (NAEYC, 1998)

There are many personal characteristics that are essential to being successful in the field of early childhood education, whether you wish to be a teacher in a public school setting or a day care provider in a home setting or center. The modern early childhood professional has to be able to think on their toes and utilize strong critical thinking skills to keep up with the demands of today's children. Early childhood professionals work in a variety of environments from classrooms to living rooms, and need to have a high level of organization to maintain a successful learning environment. Not only is the modern professional concerned with the education of today's child, he or she is often in charge of the emotional, social, and personal development of the children left in their care. Because of this, today's early childhood professional needs to be knowledgeable on both the educational needs of a child as well as the psychological make up of each child, and how he or she can promote the growth of a child's mind, body, and spirit.

The responsibilities of the early childhood professional have grown tremendously throughout the years. No longer is the professional just teaching the given curriculum to the students in their care. The professional today has the responsibility to look out for each child and cater to their specific way of learning and tailor lessons that give a variety of learning activities. In the past, special needs children were often separated in other classrooms, and in today's educational setting that is not always the case, so the professional has the responsibility to ensure that each child is learning in a safe and effective environment. Today's early childhood professional has to be able to communicate effectively with peers, parents, and children, and needs to be respectful of each group equally. Professionals in this field are often required to meet nutritional needs of children, and should have basic knowledge of the growth and development of children at various stages of life. They are also faced with many diverse cultures and religious backgrounds, and should be respectful of each child's home environment.

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