There have been many times in my career, when it has been necessary to defend my field, and its importance. I have chosen a career path many see as unworthy of their time, an unwanted or simple job. A profession seen as limited, unfulfilling, just another meaningless job anyone could do.
It often times can be exhausting and hurtful to defend the very thing you believe so much in, that work very hard at, something you have devoted your whole life too.
It is hard to see the look in someone’s eye’s as you tell them what you do, it’s almost as if they pity you. I always want to look at them and say what’s your job? Does it make you happy? Do you love going to work every day? Do you love the people you work with? Most people cannot say yes to even one of these questions, let alone all of them. I can unequivocally say, I enjoy nothing more than my profession.
To be able to define and understand the job of an Early Childhood Professional one must first know the definition of Early Childhood Education. ECE or Early Childhood Education is a very diverse field, which serves children from birth to the age of eight years. Within this time these children experience a wide range of care and education, in various settings. When these children are in their various settings, the adults with them, no matter their job title or their specific work, they are Early Childhood Professionals. From a childcare provider, preschool teacher, center director or kindergarten teacher, these are all examples of and ECE Professional.
It is the job of the Early Childhood Professional, to create an environment in which children are able to safely explore their world, gain new skills, learn independence, grow socially and emotionally. We see great physical growth in these years, from rolling, to crawling to walking. Children work on their language skills, gross and fine motors skills. So much is learned within the time frame we call Early Childhood, ECE Professionals help lay the foundation in which all other education is built upon.
Not only are ECE professionals supporting the children in their care, they are also supporting that child’s family. Their services go beyond the child in the room. To better understand the child they care for, it is imperative they know the family. Knowing and understanding where a child comes from is beneficial to all involved. Knowing the family dynamic, the culture, the beliefs, and home life, you can better support and understand the student. Communication is important. Sometimes the ECE professional is the first stop for families looking for support. Families trust their providers, and this is where they feel most comfortable being honest about their needs as a family.
Early Childhood professionals have the whole child in mind. There is no one focus, everything is considered, cognitive development, social emotional needs and development, a child’s physical development, all of these things are considered every day, about every child in the care of an Early Childhood Professional.
This is a huge role, a vital role, not only for the children and families being served but for the community as a whole.
Abby Lazarus M.E.d.
Current Doctoral Student, Masters in Early Childhood studies, and a Bachelors in Child Development
We do not use a curriculum written by someone else in my classroom. We use the curriculum we write ourselves, designed around the kids in the classroom that year. We write based on their individual needs. We discover these needs through observations and assessments.
We take into consideration the interests of the children in the room, their current skills level and how we can use that interest to help them gain new skills.
Try New Things
Repeating is BORING. Don’t do that to yourself. Doing the same crafts and the same themes year after year means you lose interest, things get boring for you, and when you are bored the kids feel that and they don’t enjoy themselves either. Siblings should NOT be bringing home the same crafts two years apart! Yes, some crafts are super cute, and you want to do them again, but wait a few years and make sure there are no siblings and students who will be repeating the same craft.
Change up the Themes
Don’t do the same themes year after year. Try new topics, who says you can’t do a Hawaiian luau theme in the middle of January, the kids will love talking about warm beaches, pineapple, and learning to hula dance while it snows outside! Everyone loves to pretend to escape, even you as the teacher! Don’t bore yourself and the kids, when you are learning and having fun they are learning and having fun.
How can you scaffold learning, if you are not planning for the children in the classroom?
It is incredibly important to scaffold a child’s learning, to scaffold is to build upon their previous knowledge. How can you use the same plans year after year, talking about the same topics, repeating the same crafts, and still provide your students with specific skills they need to work on? We know in my room when we have kids struggling to cut, we need to create more time and activities for them to cut. So, a collage craft where they have to cut our picture from a magazine and glue them to a paper is a great way to get more practice in. Scissors are always accessible in our classroom for a free play option, (but I use this as and example to make my point)
How to lesson plan after observations and assessments
Lesson planning comes easiest once you know your students. You can create broad scope lesson plans for the year, meaning you can have your topic or theme, but be flexible. Be ready to change and activity or add one in based on the needs of the students. This type of planning is really centered around what they need from you. It is your job to provide pieces of the world for them to explore safely in your classroom. Observation and assessment should already be a regular thing in your classroom. To plan for them you must KNOW them. Then you have to take all of that information and use it to make sure the activities you plan in your classroom will help to challenge them, and gain new skills.
This year we are turning many of our favorite classroom books into themes. We try and switch our overall topics and themes year after year. I keep a list of the themes we have tried on our teaching peaches website, if you click each month on the homepage for that month you can see the themes we have tried.
I hope you consider writing you own curriculum. It’s seems like a daunting task at first. But you just have to be organized. Get your self a good lesson plan outline and get started. You CAN do it!
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It is important for not only teachers to know what is developmentally appropriate, but it is also important for parents.
Understanding where your child should be developmentally is part of the parenting job.
It is absolutely natural for parents to compare their children to others. What is important to keep in mind is that every child is different, and they learn in their own time and in their own way. That, your job as a parent is to make sure the experiences and environment you provide for them supports them as they continue to explore and learn.
Know What your Child needs to know
That is why it is imperative for parents to have some idea of what their child should be working on. Learning is scaffolded, before they can move on to another skills, they first must master the skills leading up to it. So, let’s say a child has just turned 3 years old. You aren’t sure what they need to be working on. Go back to a list of what is suggested for an 18-month-old and check off the skills your child has mastered, work your way through a couple of lists, increasing the age of the list as you go.
Make a list of the things your child needs to work on, take note of the items on the list you are sure your child has mastered yet. This is where you start. You need to keep track of what they know and what they should be working on. This way you can make sure you are working with your child.
Learning is Everywhere
It's easy enough! Learning is in everyday things. I also really love the car for educational conversation because they are buckled in and cannot escape you! For example, as you stop at a stop sign, it’s easy enough to say “hey, look at that red stop sign, it is an octagon.” Then ask them to point out more colors and shapes as you drive. You can even ask them to yell out some Letters they see on signs.
It is not easy, but it is your job
Parenting is not easy, it takes dedication. It is quite literally a parent’s job to prepare their child for the world. It starts at birth. From the moment they are born, its time for you to start talking to them. The need you to read to them. They need you to provide an environment where they can safely learn and grasp the world around them. It is important for parents to truly understand they are their child’s first teacher. Being that first teacher is not easy. You have to do your research, you need to be aware of what your child really needs, so that they may thrive, socially, emotionally and academically. You must look outside of the opinions of friends and family and educate yourself based on fact, and not opinion. Parenting is work, and Early Education is the most important thing you can provide for your child in their life time!
Abby Lazarus, M.E.d.
Preschool teacher and owner.Current doctoral student, Masters in Early Childhood Studies, Bachelors in Child Development.
To Newsletter or not to Newsletter?
When I first opened my preschool. Focus was more on the children and what and how I was teaching. I failed to realize the importance and how much help it would be to myself and my students to communicate more with their parents. I underestimated how much that would change my teaching, how it effected how the parents felt about me, and how it would help me get needed information to parents other than one on one face to face communication.
I started out trying to produce a monthly newsletter. A newsletter that included a calendar, reminders, tips and notes. Something the parents could place on the fridge and have as a visual reminder on what is going on at preschool. This ended up for me, being more work on top of everything else I was doing. Just handing these out once per month didn't work because there were things that came up, and I had a need to tell the parents as a whole right away. I stopped doing newsletters.
I tried classroom apps, but it would have been much simpler to text everything myself.
Time for a website
Ultimately we found that a website dedicated to our school and classroom was the best way to handle everything. Plus, the website could take payments, we could share photos on a password protected space, we could keep a running list of upcoming events and it takes less than 30 seconds to add something new and post it. Like updating a classroom needs list. If we run out of red paint, one of us hops on the site and adds it to the list. The site can be accessed when a parent is standing in the middle of target wonder what was on the needs list. She/he has immediate access to that list via the class website. What can be found on the website can be found in the parent information area at school.
They have information on the the go and information they can see when they pick up and drop off. Therefore, this leaves no excuse for not knowing, it means they aren't holding up their end on the communication bargain. I have learned communication means everything, you learn so much more about the family and the child when you communicate and really bond and connect with each of your families. When you do this it changes the whole classroom dynamic, and everything works smoother.
Abby Lazarus, M.E.d.
Preschool teacher and owner. Bachelors in Child Development and Masters in Early Childhood Studies. Current doctoral student at Walden University.
Pursing an Advanced Degree
I made the choice to pursue and advanced degree later than most. I did not decide completely and set my mind to it until I was in my mid 20’s. by then I had received my Bachelors, and the joy and sense of empowerment I got after receiving my diploma, gave me the courage I needed to continue my education. I finally realized a Doctoral degree is something I could actually achieve rather than dream. I stopped doubting myself. Within a month of finish my Bachelors, I was enrolled in my master’s program.
Finding your Passion
I was not a stellar student through Jr. High or even High school. I was confident that I was smart and knowledgeable, but the topics being taught did not speak to me. I needed to find my passion, to find the topic that spoke to me. I did not find that until after high school. I found who I was supposed to be or rather my profession found me after the birth of my first child. The thought of leaving him in someone else’s care while I worked was heart wrenching to me, so I decided to stay home with him and work. I opened a home daycare by the time he was six months old. The birth of my second child is when I realized I wanted more for myself, I wanted to educate myself further in the development of children, I wanted to do that through college courses rather than on the job experience and reading research and books on my own. I wanted to show my children that continued education is important.
Moving on to better things
By my third child I had closed the daycare and opened a preschool program outside of my home. Then with two degrees under my belt and a new business that brought to light so many more debates, issues and controversies in Early Childhood Education, I began dabbling more into advocacy.
My work in advocating for Early Childhood Education lead me to seeking the advanced degree. Along with my years of on the job experience I want that college degree to say to people, “she knows what she is talking about, you need to hear her out.” This advance degree also sets me apart from other Preschool programs in my community. It shows new families looking for preschools that I have gone above and beyond, that I am highly qualified to teach their child.
This advanced degree also opens more doors for me professionally. As one day, I would like to work in higher education. I would like to share my knowledge and experiences with others entering the field of Early Childhood Education.
Three issues of interest to me in Education
Cognitive/Academic Vs. Whole Child Approach
The Cognitive/Academic emphasis vs. the Whole Child Approach speaks to me in hat everyday as I teach my preschoolers and create my lesson plan, I know that the approach I take with my students is not how it will be for them when they enter into the K-12 public school system. A system focused more on Cognitive and Academic growth rather than a whole child approach, a place focused on and centered around common core methods. I use assessments on my students, and observe them, I believe in doing so because it helps me to better scaffold their learning. I must know what they know in order to continue to plan for them.
My assessments are built into our day and from the casual observer would just look like a conversation between teacher and student. My students have no Idea I am assessing them; they believe we are just playing a game together. There is no pressure to preform, no pressure to meet goals they are not ready for, and goal that are not developmentally appropriate. I always have to keep in mind that every child will get they’re in their own time, and in their own way. Pushing them will not help, it is what my personal downfall was in school.
They wanted me to hurry up and learn so we could move on to the next skill or topic. I was always moving at that common core pace and not my own. I eventually got left in the dust.” The goal of preschool education is greater school readiness.” (Zigler, 2015) I take the side of the whole child approach in my preschool program, and I believe my students are happier, healthier (mentally and physically), and more prepared to enter elementary school.
Ensuring quality and accountability in preschool programs
Currently every state has their own set guidelines for early childhood and preschool programs. There are no universal standards. Standards are set by the states themselves. So, what a preschool education looks like varies from state to state. The current standards set for the state of Colorado, far exceed the level of standards set by the state of Wyoming. How do we bring all states up to par? How do we make sure those who are teaching in preschools are properly trained to do so, and that they continue to receive proper professional development?
As advocates work to bring the importance of Early childhood education to light for those who don’t understand its impact, we have to consider how do we get policy makers and parents alike to see the effects of a quality Early childhood education? We need more outside the profession to see its impact, so that they continue to place value in it.
How do we ensure universal quality throughout the united states? What needs to be put in place to safeguard against programs that are not developmentally appropriate? There is a lack of accountability nation wide for programs teaching our youngest children. We need to change that.
Public Schools only Vs. other sites
The world of education is a hot topic, the education system is complex and differs greatly depending on where you live. With more states now offering preschool programming in their public schools, we have to ask the question, is this the best place for our preschoolers? Are they better in a private setting? This topic intertwines with the topic of ensuring quality and accountability and raises some of the same questions.
Quality, curriculum, teacher training, etc. It can be said that often times there is less bureaucracy in a private setting so there is more instructions time for students. That in private settings more involvement in required of the parents, which in turn shows students that this is important to their parents, that their education matters to them.” Decades of research has now indicated that the more involved parents are in their children’s schooling, the better the children’s educational performance.” (Zigler, 2015) It gives more bonding time for parents and students. Public is often defined by the fact that it is free, so it is a choice for parents with no other choice, but it doesn’t always mean quality. There are so many pro’s and cons to both choices. How does a parent decide what is best for their child? How do we provide the best care and education for children that we can, and where is the best place to do it, public or private? It is a hot button debate for me, one I am close to as a private school owner, that believes in public education for all ECE students.
Two goals I hope to accomplish by obtaining my degree
I would like to expand my preschool program to be able to serve more young children. I would like the new program to be able operate, while providing quality education to all socioeconomic backgrounds. I would like to take my private program and what I have developed there to a larger demographic. My state currently has no large stake or rush to provide the quality care our youngest children deserve so I would like to provide it to the best of my ability, to the largest number of students I can, until my state catches up and realizes its importance.
I would also like to take a larger stand in advocating for Early childhood education in my state. I have always been an advocate, but I do not feel I am heard. I feel I am brushed off because they see me as “just a preschool teacher”. For those who do not see the value in Early Education, they in turn do not see the value in me or my profession. I feel a Doctoral degree gives me that leg up, that maybe more people will listen, and hear out my concerns. I hope to bring the state of Wyoming up to par and aligned with our bordering states and even nationally when it comes to the education of our youngest children.
I believe that by delving in and pursuing the above listed topics and can bring positive change to my profession. Researching these topics makes me a better advocate, and a better teacher. Advocating is the first step in change. I also believe the research on these topics makes me a better teacher. I am better able to support my students and their families. By, concentrating my time on researching the best way to move forward in providing exceptional and quality programming that fits all, I am providing for not only myself, but also my community. Change begins with one person choosing to do so.
Zigler, E. P. (2015). The Pre-k Debates: Current Controversies & Issues. Baltimore: Paul H Brookes Publishing.
Abby Lazarus Ms.Ed.
Preschool teacher and owner.Current Doctoral Student. Masters in Early Childhood Studies. Bachelors in Child Development. 13 years of professional experience in Early Childhood.
So if you are reading this blog post you are considering opening up a part time preschool program in your community. I'm thinking you have probably thought this through you are already past the soul searching stage and you are ready to get started but you're not exactly sure where to start.
Opening a part time preschool is not going to be an overnight deal. You have to begin with asking yourself questions; A LOT of questions! You need to write these questions down. Here are a few of the questions you need to be asking yourself and researching the answers to.
I hope that my post is helping to walk you through the steps that you are going to need to take to start your own preschool. I know that I can't get too specific with you because they don't know where you live an every state is going to be different the specific rules sat by each state differ so greatly that all I can do is give you a general outline of some of the questions you're going to need to find the answers to to help you get started on your business plan. I hope that this post was able to help you get the ball rolling and give you some ideas of questions you needed to be asking yourself and finding the answer to. I would be happy to answer any questions you have please feel free to reach out.
As you see affiliate ads throughout or website and post, please know we receive a small compensation to our website, at no cost to you. Thank you for reading!
11. Make Rings
12. Make Finger Puppets
13. Staple a small paper with a number written on it, on top of a pipe cleaner, have children add the correct number of beads to the pipe cleaner.
14. Make funky glasses to wear for the day.
15. Form pipe cleaners into circles and play ring toss! Toss onto an empty paper towel tube.
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The need for quality Early Childhood Education is needed in many places throughout the country and even the world. The center for American Progress states that in Wyoming with more than 65% of households having both parents working outside of the home it has become incredibly important for families to have options that are affordable, high quality and programs that will effectively prepare there children to enter into kindergarten and to succeed.
When a child receives positive early learning experiences this leads to healthy growth and development in all areas, and helps to lay the foundation in which all other education is based upon. Thus making Early childhood education incredibly important to the development of every child. Unfortunately this crucial time period, the first five years of a child’s life is often overlooked by people outside of the education profession.
The Instructional foundations for kindergarten summary report released by the Wyoming Department if Education states that only 52% of kindergartners had a kindergarten readiness level of “proficient”. Students who start behind, stay behind, and mostly likely will never catch up. The only way to improve this is to better prepare our students before they enter into kindergarten, meaning we need more quality preschools for our children under the age of 5.
Statistically before the age of five Children's brains, their personalities and their intellect are 85% developed, this according to the Wyoming Department of Education. Children who grow up in home with parents whom are less educated will them selves by 18 months already fall behind their peers with better educated households. It has been discovered that to produce the highest return on the dollar comparing it to all other investments we receive the highest return from early childhood education. Not higher education and job training, this proving the need for quality and wide spread affordable Early childhood education experiences for our children between birth and five years.
Wyoming Kids First mission is “To lead a public-private partnership in the development of an accessible and sustainable, high-quality early childhood system that supports communities and families.” (Wyokidsfirst.org,2018) The vision of the group is to make sure that all children in Wyoming live and learn in safe environments. Environments that will help them to succeed not only in school but in their futures. This agency has a broad reach over the state Of Wyoming, they are aware of all the programs and personnel in the state. They are already advocates and fight for change to early childhood education within the state. They would be a great source of knowledge for an advocate, they can put you in touch with others in the community who are already fighting for such change as well as help to navigate the path of being a new advocate.
Early Learning in Wyoming: 2017 (Publication). (n.d.). Retrieved June 25, 2018, from Center for American Progress website: https://cdn.americanprogress.org/content/uploads/2017/07/19101219/2017ECFS_WY.pdf
Wyoming Department of Education (2009) Instructional Foundations for Kindergarten Summary.
http://wyokidsfirst.org/ Retrieved June 29th,2018
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It is normal to change things in the classroom over the years. Your classroom grows and changes with you. You take on new stuff, you purge old things. The classroom is ever changing (if you are doing your job right) as you learn as a teacher, everything about your teaching style, your curriculum, you classroom routine, changes. Change is good! Change is FUN!
I am FINALLY painting my classroom after 7 years of the same color, and I am so excited. Not so much about the actual painting part...but about the change. I am almost done painting, and even after finishing just the first coat of paint on the first wall, I knew the room was brighter and better. I knew the parents and the kids were going to love it!
As I paint, I am taking things down off the walls, keeping, storing and purging. I am getting reorganized and prepared for a new school year and a new classroom. Even a new me, I am taking all of the new things I have learned through my students and applying them to how I want my classroom to look and run next school year.
Many of my students next year are returning students. I have read so many things through out my years as an Early childhood student and teacher. That children need consistency, don't make major changes to the classroom, it unsettles the children. My students have come to learn change is good, they kind of have to. Throughout the school year we do change things. The room has to fit the children in the room. What works for last years students wont work for this years and sometimes things change month to month, week to week or day to day. Our classroom evolves with the children in the room. It changes with their interests. It changes when there are issues and two activities are not working well in close proximity. There are so many reasons for change. Yes, it does take some adjusting on everyone's parts, but that is OK. We are teaching our students that change can be good, and showing them the proper way to handle and deal with change. So I say, go forth and create some change in your classroom, help it to fit and work for the people in the room!
As a teacher you know one of the most important and stressful times in a parents life can be choosing the right school for their child. This post is about the best way to support them as they are on the search for a quality program for their child.
1. Make them feel welcome. Invite them in! I am not big on scheduling visits, but then again I own the school and make my own rules. If you are in a school that requires a parent to pre-schedule, then so be it! Invite them in, they want to see you at work. Show them attention answer their questions, listen to them, but keep working to show you know what the heck you are doing!
2. Don't be fake! Be yourself! You cannot fool a parent! Also, lets be real, if you have to fake being a nice person, WHY ARE YOU TEACHING PRESCHOOL?!?
3. Realize that you are not everyone's cup of tea, and that is OK. Tell them about your self, give them some background. Tell them why you are a teacher. Give them your teaching philosophy, goals, or mission right there in person!
4. Make sure to give any literature your school hands out, Business cards, brochures, and a website or Facebook page for them to look at.
5. TALK TO THEIR CHILD! Ask the child to join your class, ask the child questions, show an interest in the child! You should honestly be interested in this child! You both need to feel each other out.
6. If only one parent can make it, let them know you would be happy to meet with the other parent, when he or she has the time.
7. Show them around your classroom, point out the areas where they can find parent information.
8. Give them a run down of everything you do in class, whats the class schedule?
9. Show them your teaching credentials, if you don't have a notebook of your training's and certificates, you need to make one NOW!
10. Ask them to feel free to contact you personally if they have any questions after they leave. Coming to a new place can be overwhelming with all that is going on. They may think of something they were meaning to ask after they leave. Let them know its ok, it happens and you WANT them to contact you if they think of something.
11. Take their information. Send a follow up email, Thanking them for coming in and again extending the opportunity for them to call if they have anymore questions.
Good luck! Meeting new parents is parent of running, owning or being a preschool teacher. This is something that has to, and will be done all year long. Some people hear about you and get such a solid recommendation that by the time they make it to visit you they want paperwork to sign up! Others just found you online or on a list of preschools, either way, be prepared!
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Current Doctoral Student.Masters in Early Childhood Studies and Bachelors in Child Development. 13 years in the ECE profession.