From birth through age 8, the foundations for a child’s lifetime are formed. This gives early childhood professionals an opportunity to nurture this important growth and development.
Knowing how children grow and develop helps early childhood professionals write curriculum activities and set up learning environments, observe and assess children over time and support children with different learning styles.
When it comes to an early childhood professionals’ role – it’s important that there is an understanding of each individual child’s range of abilities. This understanding helps us plan how we interact with children, adjust the way we teach and create activities that can challenge children in ways that will boost their learning.
In addition, early childhood professionals need to understand the child’s values, the impact of their family culture and language as well as the expectations of families.
Based on current research and theories concerning growth, development and learning, an early childhood professional in child care centers and family child care homes must understand the following:
- Understanding Basic Child Development – We should understand how children develop and apply that information to our teaching practices and how we monitor children over time. We need to understand stages of development and how each developmental domain (social, emotional, physical, language, cognitive) relates to each other. For more information on child development, visit Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for basic information.
- Spotting Typical and Atypical Development – We must be able to notice when a child is not developing or progressing according to basic child development. When we notice this, we can change our way of teaching and or the environment to:
- Meet the needs of each child
- Understand signs that a child might need additional support
- Develop Individualized Family Service Plans and Individualized Education Plans, Individualized Healthcare Plans and 504s
- Recognize and respect any developmental challenges
- Considering Individual Differences – All children are different, but it’s our job to respond to each child’s individual abilities, temperament and learning styles.
- Knowing what can Influence Development – All things can impact a child’s ability for growth and development. Early childhood professionals need to identify and recognize the many things these influences, such as, family dynamics, stress and cultural practices.
- Facilitating Development – We can promote growth and development through understanding the role of relationships (with teachers, with family members and other children), providing a variety of learning experiences, and encouraging play.
- Collaborating with Others – You’re not alone. Seek out the support you need from other early childhood professionals, families and community members.
As an early childhood professional, your knowledge and skills impact both the young children and families that you work with. With this in mind, your growth as a professional is as important as the growth and development of the children you’re guiding and teaching. Your professional development is a top priority and ongoing journey that is paving a path of success.
You just covered an introduction to Child Growth & Development (CGD). This competency addresses special needs, inclusion and cultural diversity. This is a part of the Arizona Workforce Knowledge and Competencies that outlines the basic knowledge, skills and abilities that are required of early childhood professionals. These expectations for knowledge aren’t only for teachers, but also directors, teacher assistants, special education therapists, coaches and consultants.
The competencies are divided into eight core areas:
- Child Growth & Development
- Curriculum & Learning Environment
- Child Observation & Assessment
- Effective Interactions (Adult-Child, Child-Adult and Child-Child)
- Healthy, Safety & Nutrition
- Family & Community Partnerships
- Program Management
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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