During my course of study, I have realized the importance of taking advantage of the first few years of a child’s life. These years have been found to be the most critical time to build a solid foundation on which the great development takes place in the brain. Having the right kind of education is key to this happening. However, the aspects that contribute to this are not equally accessible to all children and as a result of this so many children get left behind and struggle through grade school to catch up. My goal in early childhood education is to be a voice for the children who don’t have a voice and to advocate for the less privileged. I would want to ensure that every child under my watch has access to quality education and care. I plan to accomplish this by first making sure that every child feels welcome in the school environment. If there’s any child who doesn’t speak English as a first language, I plan to break the language barrier. I would also like to break any culture barriers, by incorporating aspects of every child’s culture into the environment. I would involve parents and children what goes on in school most especially children from diverse cultures in order to ensure that they are aware of the programs that are beneficial and contribute to a better standard of education and care for their children.
I realize this cannot be successful without a great team around me and so I would invest into staff training and incentives, a good training would make staff aware of the reasons these first years are important and how to make a good quality of education available to every child.
As Tennessee strives to ensure that all students succeed in kindergarten and beyond, the department has developed a definition of quality for early childhood programs that includes three components: program management, teaching and learning, and continuous quality improvement.
For Program Management there is access and attendance where Tennessee strategically allocates funds, through layering or blending of funding sources, to serve more children who will benefit most from the program; ` Actively recruit families, including those with significant risk factors, through ongoing, coordinated, and innovative efforts; The state ensures children attend school regularly and consistently by establishing clear policies and expectations for daily attendance; and ` Communicate regularly with families and provide parent education opportunities to build understanding of the positive correlation between regular attendance and academic success (TN Department of Education, n.d).
In the aspect of teaching and learning, classroom environment establishes child-centered and intentionally organized environments to meet the expectations of the Tennessee Early Learning Developmental Standards, and the developmental needs, interests, and cultures of the children; ` Enable and invite interactive experiences, experiential learning, independence, movement, and cooperation through distinguishable learning centers (at least five) that include literacy materials (e.g., books, paper, writing materials, and materials that encourage fine motor development) at every center; Provide frequently rotated, accessible materials that are varied, developmentally appropriate, open-ended, self-correcting, reflective of children’s interests, and that invite higher levels of engagement, problem solving, discovery and creativity; ` Support diversity and inclusion through culturally responsive materials, and display children’s work; and ` Create instructional displays that are at children’s eye level, easily accessible, interactive, and provide a resource to scaffold and support learning. Use whole group activities for a clear, targeted purpose for learning that is kept at an age-appropriate length of time for pre-K children; ` Provide child-directed learning centers that follow the learning needs of children (TN Department of Education, n.d).
Daily Schedule and Use of Time ensures that teachers spend significant time each day listening to children, reading stories with children, and asking questions that prompt children’s critical and inferential thinking; Maximize learning through the appropriate use of instructional time. Provide child-directed learning centers that follow the learning needs of children, include choice, and embed small group instruction targeted to specific learning goals aligned to content standards; ` Display a visual, movable schedule that allows flexibility with a balance of teacher- and child directed activities; and ` Provide a sufficient, age-appropriate amount of unstructured gross motor play aligned with the developmentally appropriate practice principles set by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). Interactions and Instruction Ensure that teachers listen to children, respond to their needs and questions, and engage in conversations with multiple children daily; Model and practice positive interactions, tone, affect, and language with children; Intentionally teach vocabulary by introducing and incorporating new words into meaningful activities. Extend children’s thinking through open-ended questions and build knowledge utilizing a planned sequence of questions; Model and facilitate the exploration of materials (TN Department of Education, n.d).
In Tennessee, Standards, Curriculum, and Assessment involve continuous quality improvement where they employ school and program leaders, teachers, and instructional assistants who are: knowledgeable about child development, developmentally appropriate practice, and early learning standards; committed to early learning, able to create a positive climate that respects all adults and children in the learning community, and foster a joy for learning (TN Department of Education, n.d).
My hope is to see more policies which favor the promotion of high quality education for all children, I would like to make connections with other early childhood professionals who also want to promote the advancement of high quality education for less privileged children and families. I would like to continuously keep myself abreast of the developments and discoveries in early childhood education. My challenge would not to be frustrated at the pace of development and to be encouraged about every little step of improvement that is accomplished (TN Department of Education, n.d).
TN Department of Education. (n.d). Quality Matters: Defining Quality in Early Education. Retrieved from https://www.tn.gov/content/dam/tn/education/early-learning/pre-k/quality_matters.pdf