When I explained to my family that I was going to get a doctorate in Early Education they looked at me, and my oldest son said, “You’re going to get a doctorate in but wiping?” Well, of course, this infuriated me, and my skin started to boil. Mind you this is my oldest child who is now an adult and has been raised in the home of an early educator. I spent many years in the field alongside him teaching him the importance of early education and why we should have more of an emphasis in the area, but my brother had, and he heard it and thought that he was going to be cute. This sparked a lengthy debate at the family table why it is so important to have early education and why the nation has been so unjust to the profession.
This also sparked many questions in my mind. Why do people have this thought process about early education? Why do professionals see themselves as babysitters and not early educators? How can we change the thought process of not just our communities and parents but our selves as educators? I see how the past has not indeed formed to the knowledge of early education, but now it is time to change that. Early education is a new concept to many and has not truly been thought of in the past as a profession. But I am concerned about the ongoing tradition of people thinking that it is o.k for their child to be with someone for many years that is not educated in the field and doesn’t know what is developmentally appropriate for the children in their care. The thought of infants being tucked away in a bouncy seat all day is disheartening. We as early educators know that that type of care is very detrimental to the wellbeing of a child.
As my work has changed and I keep researching the field I see more and more educators that step up and look at their selves as professionals and want to make a difference. It is encouraging to see family child care providers have a better understanding of the word professional as well as center directors and teachers seeing their selves as professionals.
What I have been told though is that there is a resistance against being a part of a state quality rating program for providers which makes me sad, but the biggest reason that I am told is that the families know nothing about quality and the importance of it, so they don’t see the importance of worrying about the extra paperwork. Even though this is disheartening, I want to think about the real significance of why we should think about quality and what it really means for a provider.
We shouldn’t be thinking of quality as more paperwork for my business. We should be thinking about why quality is so essential for the children that I care for. We should be thinking about what this shows as I enhance my business into a more professional atmosphere and to show the public that I am a professional and an educator. We should look at how we can show state leaders, other professionals, and advocates what quality should be and what early education in a qualified center can look like when we as educators hold ourselves up to that standard.
If we as educators keep allowing ourselves and the public to view the profession as babysitting, then we will never become professionals. If we keep letting the public to think it’s ok to have their children in care that is by a non-licensed or regulated person that is not qualified, then we keep allowing our profession to be belittled. All of the education and professional development will never be enough if it doesn’t start with us changing our mindsets and then the mindsets of the public. We have to step up and make the change by educating ourselves in the importance of early education and developmentally appropriate practice and then inform our parents and the community. I don’t know about you, but I have been in the early education field for over 20 years and yet to have sat on a baby and will never set on a baby. I have educated and help hundreds of children develop and grow into great young adults and enhance their knowledge to be ready for kindergarten and the life ahead, but I have never just been a babysitter.