It is important for early childhood teachers to be prepared with high-quality educational experiences to provide play-based, open-ended and rich learning opportunities to nurture young children’s development. The Center for American Progress argues that an exemplary teacher must be flexible to fit the needs of the child by “using responsive language, engaging all children in classroom activities, fostering independence, and creating a language-rich environment.”
Great teachers prevent or redirect behavior instead of creating a system of punitive consequences. A child’s physical environment also plays an influential role in their ability to develop imagination skills. When the classroom is outdoors, it can even lower stress levels in the future.
The most important way to equip educators for high-quality instruction is rigorous training gained from advanced programs in early childhood development. The Master of Science in Education (MSEd) with a Concentration in Leadership in Early Childhood Education online program from Southern Oregon University (SOU) offers educators the opportunity to become experts in equitable, high-quality early childhood programs.
Strong Leadership and Management
The National Association for the Education of Young Children contends that “high-quality early learning leads to many positive outcomes in life, including increased educational attainment, healthier lifestyles, and more successful careers.” Education professionals in early education must balance various best practices in their work, including skills like preparedness, support methods and strong leadership and management. Professionals in leadership positions should recognize teachers with the highest qualifications, knowledge and professional commitment. They must also know how to best support twenty-first-century families’ diverse lifestyles, which requires a flexible yet steadfast management approach.
In SOU’s online MSEd program, students will gain:
- crucial leadership aptitudes such as those in administration, ethics, hiring processes, staff management and parent relations
- alternative methods of instruction and learning like outdoor education, nature connection, play, creative expression and movement
- knowledge to use research to improve instruction
- ways to foster a shared relationship between children and educators by using curiosity and motivation
Educators need dedicated support from school leaders since their agendas are so specialized due to customized learning populations and subject(s) requiring new technology and changing standards for curriculum rigor. These challenges extend beyond teaching curriculum, and an advanced education degree in leadership in early childhood education can help guide faculty and staff.
Retaining Teachers With the Best Pedagogy
The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) asks that all early childhood teachers adhere to a professional obligation to advance equity: “They can do this best when they are effectively supported by the early learning settings in which they work.” Teachers play a crucial role in helping monitor student well-being and safety, meaning they often work to ensure students do not feel bullied, unnoticed or unvalued. This process takes practice, training and classroom management strategies.
Education Week defends the need to establish sincere and lasting relationships with students, “but a precursor to building and sustaining relationships is for educators to actually care about — see the humanity in — and recognize the many strengths and assets of the students they work with.”
While neighborhoods change over time, the operational definition of equity in the early childhood classroom also changes. That poses a challenge to teachers who have adjusted to specific demographics, cultures and belief systems of their students in a particular area. Early childhood professionals in leadership roles can recognize teachers’ strengths and weaknesses, which ultimately impacts turnover rates.
Early Childhood Development Promises Future Success
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), children in low-income families are often exposed to more adverse early childhood experiences and environmental factors, compromising their development and making healthy habits and school readiness more difficult.
Highlighting 2020 data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Children’s Defense Fund states that “nearly 10.5 million children in America lived in poverty in 2019.” Although the poverty rate declined from 2018 to 2019, there is still work to be done. The Center for the Study of Social Policy noted that “the consequences of poverty in early childhood can be prevented and mitigated through the provision of high-quality, accessible and responsive programs and services.”
SOU’s advanced education program in leadership in early childhood education can help professionals motivate school staff members, provide students with necessary learning tools and effectively set learners up for future success.