Early childhood experiences happen wherever children are: locally, nationally, and globally

In discussions about early childhood education, most will agree that ECE is a topic that deserves attention locally, statewide, and nationally.  However, we often don’t challenge ourselves to acknowledge that the United States is not the only context in which children live and grow. At a recent meeting, All Our Kin’s executive director Jessica Sager made a point that really resonated with me.  “Early childhood experiences are happening wherever young children are,” she said.  “We [collectively] need to acknowledge, not ignore, that fact if we truly want to make those experiences high quality.”  Though in this instance Jessica wasn’t specifically referring to the experiences of children in other countries, her words speak to the idea that ECE is in fact a topic that is relevant globally, wherever children are.

To this point, earlier this week Post University published a blog post by Patrice Faquharson, Ed.D. of the West Haven Child Development Center that details the experience she and Gale van Dijk, M.S., also of the West Haven Child Development Center, had at the Third International Conference on Early Childhood Education in Adana, Turkey.  In the post, Patrice acknowledges that despite recent commitments to early childhood education by U.S. leaders at all levels, ECE remains undervalued.  “But we’re not alone,” she writes. “Many Americans might not realize that some of the biggest issues the U.S. is facing in ECE are global concerns… [through presentations at the conference] we saw striking similarities between the main points of the U.S. early childhood education system and that of other counties, with two issues in particular standing out.”

The two issues that stood out to Patricia and Gayle as particularly relevant across the world are:

1. The early childhood education profession is undervalued.

“We must create greater respect for the ECE profession,” writes Patricia.  “This requires the U.S. and other countries to better understand the importance of high-quality early childhood education, and see the real-world benefits that ECE brings students and economies.” Patricia also mentions the international research indicating the importance of collaboration among ECE teachers, nurses, mental health providers, and social workers, all of whom play crucial roles in children’s early experiences.

2. Education standards for early childhood education teachers are lacking

Countries around the world share the United States’ struggle with inconsistent, and often quite low, requirements for early childhood educators, which in turn contribute to inequities among settings.  In Turkey and the United States alike, ECE professionals with more formal education often work in public schools or government settings, while those with less tend to work in private settings.

From our own work in communities in Connecticut, we certainly can relate to the issues raised, and thank Patricia and Gayle for sharing their observations.  To read the full post and to comment with your thoughts, click here.

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