Next week starting April 24th is Week of the Young Child 2017 (WOTYC), which celebrates young children, parents, and educators. In preparation for this time, I have been thinking about how I want to share this event with you. The most obvious idea seemed to be sharing activity ideas based on the curriculum themes for each day. As I sat down to write up activity plans, I kept thinking there was something bigger I wanted to say.
Taking things back a step, I focused on the event itself. Why do we have Week of the Young Child, when the suggested themes and ideas should be celebrated all year long? The most important reason is awareness…children are important! With a special time of year for everything, from puppies to ice cream sundaes, it can be difficult to take these celebrations seriously. But some are more important than others. No matter how little experience you have with kids, we all have important reasons to care, to educate ourselves, and to be better.
During our first years, a large portion of our bodies and minds develop. Nutritious food and new found motor skills help our bodies grow and interact with the world around us. Through love, social interaction and play, our minds develop, preparing us for all else the world has to offer (or throw at) us. This can set us up for success or failure for the rest of our lives. As humans, we all start somewhere. The root of our society lays here…with children.
The world we currently share is fast paced and offers many new challenges that we could have never imagined. One of those challenges is making time to focus on what is important to us. How often is it, as a parent, that we come home after a long day of work, with barely any energy left. How often do we retreat to our addiction, our source of solitude…our phones? How often do we really listen to children? Go to the park? Cook with our children? Read a book?
Then there are decisions made by politicians, boards, and policy makers. As educators, it can be heartbreaking and frustrating to see these individuals dedicating so little time to truly understanding the needs of children and taking these needs into consideration. Education is the foundation of our society, and we are still so very far behind.
WOTYC is an opportunity to share information with the community and to get families involved. It is a campaign to get us all talking about something very important. So for everyone reading this, please share something new about children with your family and friends. Further, learn something new yourself and put it to action. There is so much information and so many inspiring people making content for you, so go explore!
As for teachers, we too have responsibilities this time of year. Yes, the values of this week should be considered all year round, but that doesn’t mean we should stop growing. Teaching can be tedious after a while, especially if you have been in the business for years. You start to forget why it is you do what you do. You let your expectations slide. You become pessimistic. You stop learning. This is a toxic cycle.
So for teachers, nannies, and parents: here is what I think your focus should be.
One: remember why you’re here (because it’s not the money!). Think back to the feelings you had when you first started going to school and first stepped foot in the classroom. Think back on your values, your mission. What makes you feel good about what you do?
I personally have been out of the classroom for a while, occupied with another job. But after continuing my ECE learning (and after spending time with an adorable baby sister!), it has made me miss the classroom again. The little chairs and curious faces. Sometimes you don’t see the full picture until you take a step back.
Which brings me to number two: learn something new. There are so many free resources out there to help you stay up to date, knowledgeable, and even help inspire you. Watch a YouTube video. Read a blog. Take a free online class. Read a book. Watch a TED talk. Chat with other teachers on social media and forums. In other words, never stop learning. You encourage students everyday to expand their minds, now the time has come to expand yours. Because children are awesome, and they deserve it.
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