By: Judy Lyden
I can think of about ten other reasons that people are not staying in early childhood education. One of them is a little thing called teaching. The article from Harvard interchanges center care and preschool. From experience, I know those things are not interchangeable. Most centers are strictly day care and not teaching facilities, so why would a teacher, trained to teach, be interested in working in a babysitting facility?
Parents should ask when they interview at a childcare about the curriculum. What will their child do all day? If the answer is "self directed play," it's not a preschool; it's a day care. Too many day cares have become warehouses for kids dangerously separating the morning from going home by a long, long nap. The providers don't teach because they can't.
Teaching children means coordinating play with learning. All play is not learning – some self directed play is just chaos and actually destructive. When play is not constructive, the learning stops, and the chaos teaches the child that the rules don't apply to him. Consequently, the behavior of all the kids drops to an all time disgrace and somebody gets hurt.
Besides play, skills need to start at the preschool age – about age three. Foreign language should begin as a game when children are very young – three to five – because the development of speech can add the foreign sounds like gutturals, tongue trills, glottal stops, and like French, some forward mouth sounds that are nearly impossible to learn as an older child. Foreign language should be a daily event. Teachers should have at least a rudimentary second language ability.
Time evades most kids for a long time. That's why we begin most fairy tales with, "Once upon a time." Once upon a time won't mean a thing if a child thinks the whole world is right now. Fairy tales are an important learning tool for many disciplines, and if there is no story time at a childcare facility, there's a great big gap.
Teaching very young children takes preparation, just like big school, and perhaps more. Providing a reading readiness activity or two or three every day that's hands on, followed by a math project or two, an art project, a story that's known to the teacher, a plan for foreign language, a world event, a music activity all take time to plan, to organize, and to gather materials. Are the children worth the effort?