Despite numerous attempts to contact international early childhood educators through different outlets, I have received little correspondence back. I sent out over 50 emails to various international early childhood professionals and organizations, but I didn’t receive anything in return. Therefore, I turned to the popular social media resource of Facebook. I discovered two different international organizations and sent emails to both of them. I was elated when I received a response back from both of them. However, although I sent emails with this week’s inquiry, I have not heard anything back. Hence, I have turned once again to the alternative assignment of listening to the World Forum Radio, discovering new insights from two pod casts.
Meridas Eka Yora, Yayasan Fajar Hidayah Foundation
(click here to listen)
Meridas Yora is the founder of an institution for Islamic education and currently serves as the director of an organization that runs boarding schools for children who were left orphaned as a result of the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami in Aceh, located in the southern tip of Indonesia. With more than 130,000 children left without families, Mr. Yora worked with others to create three different boarding schools for these young lives. Since many of them witnessed the death of their parents and/or families, the traumatic event still runs deep for many children. Therefore. Mr. Yora spoke about the fact that this foundation zones in on the teachers and provides them specialized training when they work with these children. Before academics, these teachers must take on the role of mother and father to help ease the hurt and to promote healing. In the beginning of the program, there was a time set up each night for the teachers to sit with the children as they wept. Overall, the organization helps to promote a family-like environment for the orphaned children. Many of the older ones have begun to watch out for the younger ones, acting as if they are brothers and sisters. For those children who really struggle months later with this trauma, Mr. Yora and his wife treats them like they are their own children, which helps with a more normal life (Yora, 2010).
After listening to Mr. Yora pod cast, I was encouraged to hear about the proactive work that is occurring in Indonesia for those children who began orphans within minutes. I learned that it is important to set up a firm family foundation for children before attempting to focus on academics. Without that family support, children will not be able to reach optimal success. Mr. Yora was aware of this by encouraging the teachers to take on the role of like a mother and father before even doing academics. As these children heal and feel a family environment once again, learning will become a positive experience. Mr. Yora also gave me the insight that children who have been traumatized need additional support and help if learning and development is going to be a positive experience. Without this extra support, these children will not be able to succeed to the best that they could.
Maysoun Chehab, Beirut,Lebanon
(Click here to listen)
Maysoun Chehab serves as the Regional Early Childhood Care & Development Program Coordinator for Arab Resource Collective, a non-governmental program in Beirut, Lebanon. This organization works with “EDC practioners, policymakers, and ACD community ,,, to raise awareness about early childhood development and child’s rights” (Chehab, 2009). In additional to making various resources available for parents, caregivers, and the community about issues relating to early childhood development, Ms. Chehab also trains early childhood professionals about best practices, Ms. Chehab spoke highly about a recent a psychological support project that targeted children and families affected by the 2006 Lebanon war. Although only 33 days long, this war destroyed about 126 primary schools, impacting hundreds of children and families. This support project brought in training for parents about the emotional and social reactions that children would have from a post-conflict situation. In addition, this project focused on a lengthy training for mothers, fathers, and teachers about coping techniques and strategies, which left these individuals feeling more competent to hand the children’s reactions. This is aimed to provide support for the adults, for “if adults aren’t supported themselves, they can’t support young children” (Chehab, 2009).
Listening to Ms. Chehab’s pod cast, I learned how important it is to support the families and adults who are in direct contact with children on a regular basis. In early childhood education, we sometimes get tunnel-visioned on the academics and development of the child, easily forgetting to support the adults within that child’s life. Ms. Chehab taught me that if these adults don’t have support, then they can’t truly guide those children. Without this support for young children, optimal success will not be achieved. Therefore, as I continue throughout my educational journey, I now have the heightened awareness that I need to support not only children, but their families as well.
In addition to attempting to contact Ms. Allen and Ms. Mitchell from my previous post (dated 1/26/13), I also sent emails out to Mr. Yora and Ms. Chehab to gain further insight and knowledge about the programs they work with. Although emails were sent out to all four pod cast speakers, I have not heard back from any of them. Follow-up emails will be sent in hopes of receiving a response. In the meantime though, I explored the “Global Children’s Initiative” on the Center of Developing Child (Harvard University) website. Listed below are several bits of information and insights I gleaned from this website.
The Global Children’s Initiative is an “international approach to child survival, health, and development” (Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, 2012). Through joining together numerous disciplines and institutions, this Initiative is attempting to address the needs of all children, as well as advocating for an investment in “the root of economic productivity, positive health outcomes, and strong civil society in all nations” (Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, 2012). It focuses on three main areas:
- influencing high-end policymakers
- supporting various projects and research
- creating leadership “capacity in a child development research and policy” (Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, 2012).
Based upon these three areas, there are numerous activities being created that fall into one of these three categories:
- early childhood development
- child mental health
- children in crisis and conflict situations (Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, 2012)
After reading thoroughly about this international initiative, I gained several new insights about child development and the field of early childhood education:
Early childhood education requires many players from numerous fields for ideal success, quality, and effectiveness.
- While the knowledge and hard work from teachers directly influences children and their families, there are many sources that play indirect roles in the world of early childhood education. Without these participants, the success of early learning would not have reached the level it has today. The Global Children’s Initiative works with a variety of people, ranging from researchers to public leaders. Through this multi-level collaborative effort, early childhood education is able to reach children and families through quality education and care. Without this collaboration, I can now see how this field wouldn’t advance.
Teacher professional development needs to increase throughout the world, not just in the United States.
- Throughout this course, I have been learning about the dire need to increase the teacher quality through the United States. I primarily assumed that other leading nations were not affected by this issue. However, after reading through this Initiative and the projects that are occurring in Chile to “improve teacher professional development” (Center for the Developing Child at Harvard University, 2012), I was able to see that this is a international issue that all early childhood programs need to continuously work to improve the teacher education. In addition to advocating for higher teacher education in the United States, I am now challenge to advocate for this issue internationally.
Child mental health is a huge issue that is often undermined.
- Child mental health is a “massively under-addressed issue that has significant implications for broader health and development of children and societies” (Center for the Developing Child at Harvard University, 2012). This statement really caught my attention, as I have been so focused on the learning and development of children that I failed to acknowledge that child mental health needs to be addressed.My eyes were really opened to this issue, as more and more children around the world are being exposed to negative situations that could lead to an impacted mental health status. Rather than placing such an emphasis on academics, we need to take a step back and address the child holistically, looking at every developmental domain. Through doing this, educators will be more aware of the need for assessing a child’s mental health status. This new insight has encouraged me to incorporate more holistic assessments for children, in order for them to reach their optimal level of success.
To continue to read about the Global Children’s Initiative, please click here.
Overall, this assignment taught me a lot about the direct and indirect sources that affect a child’s learning and development. It was a refreshing assignment that made me more aware of the collaboration that takes place in early childhood education to help produce quality and effective early learning and care.
Center for the Developing Child at Harvard University. (2012). Global children’s initiative. Retrieved from http://developingchild.harvard.edu/index.php/activities/global_initiative/
Chehab, M. (2009, November 13). Episode 4: Maysoun Chehab. World Forum Radio. Podcast Retrieved from http://ccie-media.s3.amazonaws.com/podcasts/WFR_04_MaysounChehab.mp3
Yora, M. (2010, January 6). Episode 6: Meridas Yora. World Forum Radio. Podcast Retrieved from http://ccie-media.s3.amazonaws.com/podcasts/WFR_06_MeridasYora.mp3