Did you know that your role as an early childhood professional is key to not only a young child’s well-being but to their healthy growth and development? Simply, you are not just an early childhood professional, but you’re a leader, a champion, and a member of both the local community and the larger community of early childhood care and education. You have an opportunity to make meaningful and lasting impacts in the lives of the children (and families) that you’re teaching.
Additionally, did you know that fulfilling your annual training hours and participating in other early childhood educational opportunities is key to your growth both personally and professionally? It’s true! Making a commitment to yourself is just as important as the role you’re playing in the lives of the children you’re educating. In fact, you as an early educator, are growing right alongside the children you are shaping – essentially, early childhood education is dependent upon the excellence in leadership, which is you!
Now, let’s get down to what an early childhood professional should understand when it comes to quality care and early learning setting:
- Commitment to Quality – Providing a positive, nurturing, learning environment that encourages creativity and imaginative play, along with creating and maintaining an open line of communication with parents on the development of their child. The interactions you have with each child in your classroom is key to their success in not just school, but in life.
- Professional Development – Participating in continuous learning is key in reaching your career goals. Completing training classes and attending early childhood conferences are examples of ongoing professional development that will strengthen your decision-making and help with identifying those areas that require growth. You staying on top of your continuing education is you staying on top of your game and informing yourself of new trends and opportunities to grow yourself as a person and an early educator. Your growth doesn’t stop, your success is continually evolving!
- Ethics – Knowing and upholding ethical standards and other professional guidelines for those children under your care, which creates a safe, nurturing environment allowing children to grow and thrive. And it doesn’t stop there, you also have an ethical responsibility towards the parents and your community – to work side-by-side with families and colleagues and to build a community that guarantees children reach their fullest potential. For more on ethics, the NAEYC Code of Ethical Conduct offers guidelines for responsible behavior in early childhood care and education.
- Leadership – Communicating within the community, displaying classroom and leadership skills and advocating for relevant practices in the early childhood field. Your leadership involves taking the reins, using your skills and recognizing areas for improvement in both yourself and the early learning setting that you’re molding. You embrace diversity, change, and you communicate effectively with children, colleagues, parents, and the community. You are leading quality child care!
Speaking of quality child care, let’s take some time to understand the importance this plays in helping young children develop important skills, such as motivation, self-control, focus and self-esteem. This quality care is supported by and improved upon by First Things First signature program, Quality First – their role in the quality of learning is not only beneficial to a child’s developmental growth but also benefits your professional growth and ultimately benefits families, local communities and Arizona. It comes down to this… Quality Matters!
So, when you are equipped as an early childhood professional with specialized training and education alongside a commitment of continuing your professional development, you are then better able to provide the care, support and education towards every aspect of a child’s growth and learning. And, guess what? Your professionalism and leadership not only shape a child’s quality early education, but also shapes your career as an early childhood educator. You’re what quality early education looks like!
We’ve just highlighted Professionalism (P), which is one of the eight proficiencies outlined as part of the Arizona Workforce Knowledge and Competencies. These core knowledge and competencies define the content and skills needed to support a child’s individual learning experiences and development. So, whether you’re a teacher, director, teacher assistant, special education therapist, coach or consultant, your knowledge and growth as an early childhood professional is key to providing quality care and education for children.
For a more detailed look at the core knowledge and competencies, the guiding principles and the specifics of the core knowledge areas, download the Arizona Early Childhood Workforce Knowledge and Competencies for guidance on growing your professionalism in early childhood education.
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