Research Around the World

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I opted to explore the Early Childhood Australia page. Current international research topics on this organization’s website include STEM in early childhood education, how to facilitate environments in which children thrive and are able to ask higher level thinking questions to improve their learning, how to foster supportive, nurturing relationships with children in early childhood environments and settings, how to cultivate “living spaces” in which children are engaged in learning, exploring, and problem solving, inclusion and exclusion, giftedness, among many others (Early Childhood Australia, n.d.).

Learning resources available on this site include a section entitled “modules” that offer videos, text, and interactive activities that provide useful information on best practices in early childhood education. Modules are posted every six weeks and focus on a variety of topics. There is also a webinars portion that offers online conferences. “Live Wires” is a section that provides information on how to effectively utilize technology and digital media tools; perspectives range from children, to families, to researchers and educators. There is also a great parent resource tool that offers advice and helpful information to parents in regards to child development, ideas to infuse learning into daily tasks and activities, information on health and nutrition, how to foster healthy mental and emotional health, and other helpful resources for parents.

My research simulation topic involves how play fosters healthy cognitive and social-emotional development in children and I noticed that this site has a module entitled “The Value of Play.” This may prove to be a helpful resource that I return to in the future. This site also discusses and provides resources and tools for an early childhood initiative called “Kids Matter” that focuses on children’s mental health. This is another tool I am excited about returning to.

 

Reference

Early Childhood Australia, (n.d.) Early Childhood Australia Leadership Program, Retrieved from, http://leadership.earlychildhoodaustralia.org.au/

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Research that Benefits Children and Families—Uplifting Stories

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When I initially was thinking about the scenario of being able to choose any research topic unrestricted by present realities that could contribute significantly to the wellbeing of children and families, the ideas circulating in my brain seemed endless. My thoughts led me to issues of poverty, to the rise of increasing academic rigor and standards to the downfall of early childhood developmental best practice, to the need children have for creative play, to the ugly effects trauma has to the developing brain, to the plasticity of the brain; the possibilities were limitless! This assignment made me like Aladdin, rubbing the golden lamp and wishing for three things. When I really think about it, this really would be one of those three wishes. I would want to research ways we can counteract the trauma and effects of poverty on the developing child.

I believe positive contributions could include establishing a deeper understanding for the ways in which poverty truly effects children from an early age. I also believe that if this research was established on a profound level, ways to counteract this issue may elicit the need for quality care, education, and interventions and provoke a sense of urgency in investing in this glaring need.

My Personal Research Journey

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The topic I chose for my research simulation is the importance of and effects to early childhood development play has on children. I am interested in this topic due to the fact that I am a Kindergarten teacher and have seen the focus of play in the classroom quickly diminish and take a backrow seat to academic rigor and increasing standards. I believe this is ultimately to the detriment of children and their development and want to have research to back this claim in order to provide more validation and time for play-based learning in my classroom.

I have gained much insight from this week’s readings, especially from Cornell University’s Library page that goes into detail in regards to research quality criteria (Ormondroyd, Engle, and Cosgrave, 2009). This resource is helpful in determining quality standards that are useful in evaluating an information source as the page explains and describes what to look for, but also poses questions to ask when conducting this research and determining validity. I have also found the course text, Research methods: The essential knowledge base (2nd ed.), and especially its glossary section, to be extremely helpful to this endeavor (Trochim, Donnelly, and Arora, 2016). One of my bigger insights this week has been that often, I look for information sources that validate an opinion I have in education, however, not all information sources are created equally and all need to be viewed through a discerning lens.

As with most other topics, there are countless sources about play and its importance to early childhood development that are solely based on opinion. I am excited to continue to discern credible research on this topic as opposed to opinion and bias. If anyone has any research to back the importance of play to cognitive and social-emotional development, literacy acquisition skills, or ways adults can foster positive, engaging play-based environments for children, please share!

 

Reference

Ormondroyd, J., Engle, E., & Cosgrave, T. (2009). Critically analyzing information sources. Cornell University Library. Retrieved from http://guides.library.cornell.edu/criticallyanalyzing

 

Trochim, W. M., Donnelly, J. P., & Arora, K. (2016). Research methods: The essential knowledge base (2nd ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

Final Blog Assignment

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Something that I learned in regards to the international early childhood field is that there are so many global issues in early childhood. As simplistic as it sounds, children are children and have similar issues no matter where you go. Issues of poverty, access and awareness to quality programs, influences of economics, neuroscience, and politics, etc. effect children and families globally. Secondly, an international consequence to early childhood learning and development is developing an awareness of global issues and increasing action plans in regards to addressing these issues. Thirdly, we need to be more aware of issues surrounding access and availability to quality child care and learning. As much as 40% of the global population does not have access to education in a language they speak or understand” (UNESCO, 2017). We need to raise awareness to this issue and become more intentional in what we are doing as early child educators to address this issue.

A goal I have in terms of international awareness is that all early childhood professionals and educators would develop more awareness to these global issues and become more intentional regarding our responses to these issues. There is so much positive work and influence that can occur at the classroom and child care level.

 

 

Reference

UNESCO. UNESCO, 12 2017, https://en.unesco.org/themes/early-childhood-care-and-education. Accessed 16 Dec. 2017.

 

Professional Goals, Hopes and Dreams

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In exploring UNESCO’s website, I found an article entitled “How can you learn, if you don’t understand?” This article goes on to describe the difficulties many encounter when it comes to performance tasks and assessments administered in languages other than their primary language. The article goes on to state that this greatly hinders early language and literacy acquisition skills. “As much as 40% of the global population does not have access to education in a language they speak or understand” (UNESCO, 2017). One of my ongoing goals for myself has always been to reach every child, based on their individual needs, every day. This reinforced to me the need for early education and care to be holistically accessible to everyone. As early childhood educators, we need to better verse ourselves in various cultures, languages, etc. to better meet the needs of our children.

Another section of this website is dedicated to teachers. Naturally, this caught my attention. According to this site, “Teachers are one of the most influential and powerful forces for equity, access and quality in education and key to sustainable global development. However, their training, recruitment, retention, status and working conditions remain preoccupying” (UNESCO, 2017). This section of the website goes on to elaborate on the global shortage of highly-qualified teachers. I believe this will become a much bigger issue if heightening wages and elevating the level of respect given to the profession, to name a few of the issues our field faces, are not addressed. It is my continued goal to advocate for our profession and on behalf of other teachers.

Lastly, I discovered via this website that globally, “at least 750 million youth and adults still cannot read and write and 250 million children are failing to acquire basic literacy skills” (UNESCO, 2017). This is a shocking statistic and one that requires action. As professionals in the early childhood field, we need to really delve into the programs we are using and best practices we’re implementing in terms of early literacy to be sure we are fully supporting early literacy in our classrooms. “Being professional means that early childhood practitioners and leaders are constantly in the process of reflecting on and rethinking what they do in order to make improvements” (Carter, 2008, p. 4).

 

Reference

Carter, M. (2008). Assessing quality: What are we doing? Where are we going? Exchange, (184), 32–35. Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.

UNESCO. UNESCO, 12 2017, https://en.unesco.org/themes/early-childhood-care-and-education. Accessed 16 Dec. 2017.

 

Sharing Web Resources

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I have been researching the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). This week, I discovered an article in one of this organization’s recent journals about fostering creativity throughout the day in the early childhood setting. This article focuses on the developmental need and importance of aspects such as poetry, art, and music on the early childhood years (Hansel, 2017). It also suggests multiple ways of infusing these creative learning forms into curriculums and supporting academic standards (Hansel, 2017). “True creativity emerges from the combination of knowledge, skill, inspiration, and persistence” (Hansel, 2017, p. 1). I think this is an aspect of education and developmental learning we are beginning to lose focus from and need to consider the immense paybacks these forms of creativity have on learning.

Another journal article I explored discusses how our biases effect the ways in which we provide care for children and also perceive the way others care for children (MacLaughlin, 2017). “For educators, engaging in meaningful reflection, exploration, and conversations about issues such as racism, gender bias, and cultural identity are vital parts of creating anti-bias settings” (MacLaughlin, 2017, p. 1). The article goes on to say that as early childhood educators, we need to be at the top of our game in terms of self-reflection so we are able to recognize and address any of our own biases (MacLaughlin, 2017). I think this insight is extremely relevant to a profession that often finds ourselves within the confines of our classroom and often with little exposure to other classrooms, programs, or perspectives. As educators, I think there is a real need for us to be genuine self-reflectors in order to constantly improve our craft.

In researching this site more, I found pertinent information regarding an increasing number of states aiming to improve their quality rating and improvement systems for early childhood programs. NAEYC research and position statements support incorporating home language and cultural elements into these quality standards (NAEYC, 2017). I find this to be encouraging as there becomes growing evidence for implementing quality standards, especially in early childhood environments.

 

References

Hansel, L. (2017, November). Creativity Throughout the Day. Young Children72(5). Retrieved from https://www.naeyc.org/resources/pubs/yc/nov2017/creativity-throughout-day

MacLaughlin, S. (2017, November). Rocking and Rolling. Reflection: The First Step for Addressing Bias in Infant and Toddler Programs. Young Children7215. Retrieved from https://www.naeyc.org/resources/pubs/yc/nov2017/rocking-and-rolling

Global Development in Early Childhood

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In exploring Harvard’s “Global Children’s Initiative” website, I learned that a highly effective collaborative organization called the Núcleo Ciência Pela Infância (NCPI) exists in Brazil to foster an early childhood-centered, science-driven movement. This organization accomplishes this goal continually “through training Brazilian policy makers on how to apply developmental science to inform programs and policies” (Harvard University, 2017).

Secondly, I watched a video entitled “Brain Builders” that was created by The Alberta Family Wellness Initiative (AFWI) of Canada. This video was very visually engaging and gave a wonderful four minute presentation on the importance of how nurturing relationships, healthy activities, and intentional best practices can seriously influence the architecture of a child’s brain. This video projects a sense of urgency that teachers, families, and communities heed this advice—and its warnings—to help facilitate healthy and early development in children. I would highly recommend this short video.

Lastly, I learned of a partnership directed by Grand Challenges Canada, “Saving Brains” that seeks to better the end-game for children living in poverty via targeted interventions that aim to support and safeguard early brain development in the first 1,000 days of a child’s life (Grand Challenges Canada, 2017). I was drawn to this organization’s mission of proactively tackling potential issues related to socioeconomics as they pertain to a child’s brain development beginning the very first day of their lives.

It was humbling to look into this website and research the organizations it partners with. I think it can get really easy to become overwhelmed or bogged down by the immense task of facilitating healthy child development and providing all this entails on a daily basis to the children whose lives we effect on a daily basis. It is humbling and affirming to know that there are groups and organizations doing this good work on much bigger scales on a daily basis to advocate for children.

 

Reference

Harvard University. (2017). In Working Globally. Retrieved from https://developingchild.harvard.edu/about/what-we-do/global-work/