ECEC has been gaining prominence as a one of the best means of improving quality of life for children, families and societies. Research is proving that communities with access to quality early childhood education and care are reaping the benefits in more ways than one. Children who are enrolled in quality ECEC programs are being provided with the earliest opportunities possible to support their physical, mental, and social well-being which has life-long implications. Parents and families that are able to receive support from ECEC programs are better equipped to cope with their busy lives and are able to work knowing their children are being well cared for. Societies also feel the impact of quality ECEC through the long-term financial gains that accompany a more productive population and higher numbers of individuals in the workforce.
At the centre of the positive benefits of ECEC are the practitioners. Early childhood educators, are the ones providing the quality education and care to children and their families. It is through the ECE’s expertise and dedication that these programs are able to provide the greatest benefits to families and society. ECEs are having lasting effects on children and their communities, and the work they are doing is being felt beyond the classroom.
For further information of the impact of ECEC and the role of early childhood educators please visit the Child Care Human Resources Sector Council Website
There is a large body of international research that highlights the integral role that ECEs play in supporting high quality programs for young children.
This is a short list of some of the largest studies that have highlighted the role and value of ECEs and what is needed to support high quality programs and work settings.
Despite the significant amount of research highlighting the importance and value of ECEs, there are many public misconceptions concerning what Early Childhood Educators are and do. ECEs are often seen only as child-minders, lacking in education or specialized skills. In reality ECEs are highly qualified, educated individuals who have a passion for the care and education of children in the early years.
ECE is a growing profession and is one that is still fairly new. As with anything that is new, there are often a lot of misconceptions and misunderstandings. Early childhood educators are all too familiar with the common misconceptions about their profession. Although it can be frustrating working against negative or inaccurate conceptions of your work, ECEs are slowly changing these conceptions through their work with children and families and by educating their communities about what they really do.
Some of the most common misconceptions about ECEs are highlighted here with examples of how we can respond to correct these understandings.
1. Early childhood educators are just glorified babysitters.
This is one of the most frustrating public misconceptions of early childhood educators because it devalues the work that ECEs do and assumes that training and ongoing learning is not necessary to do this work. ECEs are educated and regulated professionals who are skilled at providing young children with education and care within professional environments. ECEs should be recognized as knowledgeable practitioners who apply their expertise in child development and early childhood education curriculum to provide high quality programs and promote learning and healthy development for children. ECEs work collaboratively within a team, with families and communities to provide the best possible start for children
2. ECEs just let children play all day.
To be honest, yes! ECEs do encourage children to spend their time playing and we should be proud of this. ECEs know that for children playing is learning. ECE’s educational background includes the curriculum theory and developmental research that has taught us that playing is the best means for young children to learn. ECEs use their knowledge to create learning environments for children that are stimulating, engaging and appropriate for their developmental abilities.
For further information on the role of play in children's learning please read this article by the Canadian Council on Learning.
3. Females are more adept at being ECEs.
The ECE sector has an overwhelming majority of female workers. Many people believe that child care and education is more suited for women because women are naturally better at it. Yet, early childhood educators are trained professionals. The knowledge and abilities they have is acquired through their formal post-secondary education and continuous professional learning. Meaning that men can just as easily study to become early childhood educators as well. The quality of an early childhood educator is dictated by their education and dedication, not by their gender.
4. Having a career in ECEC is a dead end.
Many people think that ECEs have limited job and career opportunities and that we all do the same thing. In reality, many early childhood educators do work in child care centres for their whole career because that is what they enjoy and want to do. However, working in a child care setting is not the only option for ECEs. Many ECEs have very long careers and work in a variety of different settings throughout their careers. Some early childhood educators do not work directly with children. An education in ECEC can lead to many different job and career opportunities.