Fulfilling the Promise of Early Childhood Education: Advancing Early Childhood Education As a Professional Field of Practice
Why don’t the children engage in a new play scenario? Should we worry about these children’s apparent lack of pretend play skills, and if so, how can teachers intervene? These might not be the most burning questions on the minds of preschool and especially kindergarten teachers. In an age of rising expectations and tougher academic standards, educators are more likely to pay attention to issues that seem to be more closely related to school readiness. “I used to have a lot more play,” sighs a kindergarten teacher, “and now my principal does not understand why I want to keep the playhouse in my room. She thinks children should play at home and come to school to learn...."
What is Professional Development in Early Childhood Education
NAEYC defines professional development as initial preparation (preservice) and learning experiences (inservice) designed to improve the knowledge, skills/behaviors, and attitudes/values of the early childhood workforce. To meet NAEYC’s mission of “assuring the provision of high-quality early childhood programs for young children,” it is necessary to have a highly competent workforce for the early childhood field. Professional development provides the path to achieving this goal.
“One of the things that I got [from the professional development program] was that you can be a leader as a teacher; that you don’t have to be in administration…. I want to stay in the classroom with the kids—that’s where I belong…. I can still be a leader in that sense. And that’s what I hope for.” This comment was made by a program participant in the Master Teacher Program, a 3-year sequence in which a group of teachers came together for a monthly day of professional development based on a reflective practice model....