Three Steps to Success: Prepare, Support, Reward
Approximately two million people care for nearly 12 million children between birth and age five in early care and education centers and homes across the United States. Well-trained and educated teachers and home-based providers are likely to establish warm and caring relationships with children, encourage their curiosity and love of learning, and foster their development and readiness for school. Unfortunately, many teachers and providers lack access to the education they need, and many work in environments that fall short in supporting their ongoing professional development and learning.
Teacher Learning Leads to Child Learning
Effective teaching of young children requires dedicated and expanded public funding to improve higher education and professional development opportunities for the early care and education workforce. To achieve this goal, CSCCE recommends that states:
Lead efforts to revamp the content and structure of higher education and professional development opportunities for the early care and education workforce, by investing in policies and initiatives that:
- Help existing higher education programs align with states’ defined early educator competencies and career ladders.
- Promote the integration of essential focus areas into higher education and professional development curricula, including:
- the latest brain research about child development and its implications for teaching young children;
- language acquisition and pre-literacy instruction, with emphasis on dual language learners;
- curriculum development and implementation;
- cultural and economic diversity; and
- working with co-workers, families, and colleagues across disciplines and from varied cultures and communities.
- Encourage higher education and professional development programs to expand and improve practice-based opportunities that integrate research, theory, and pedagogy.
- Establish competencies for higher education faculty members and professional development instructors that describe the knowledge, skills and dispositions that are needed for working effectively with diverse adult learners.
Help institutions of higher education expand student services and supports, by investing in policies and initiatives that:
- Increase the number of bachelor’s and graduate degree programs to prepare educators serving children from birth to age five.
- Provide financial assistance, as well as classes in accessible locations (or online) and at flexible times, in order to encourage the participation of non-traditional students, including those with low incomes, first-generation college students, and those currently working full-time..
- Create learning communities and cohorts to meet the diverse educational needs of the early care and education workforce.
- Remove barriers to educational access and success by providing:
- academic tutoring;
- assistance for English language learners;
- training on use of technology; and
- academic and career advising.
Support ongoing, on-the-job learning, by investing in policies and initiatives that:
- Expand the quality and availability of on-site education and professional development opportunities that use mentoring, training, and practicum experiences.
- Promote workplace practices that lead to effective performance, such as dedicated professional learning time for reflection, planning, and communicating with other colleagues, as well as paid sick and vacation days.
- Improve compensation and benefits to reduce staff turnover.