Even though I have tried to contact numerous international early childhood professionals, I have only received two initial email responses back. After both of those organizations were contacted again for further information, I did not hear anything in return. Therefore, I have opted to finish up this course’s blog assignment with the podcast and new insights gleaned from UNESCO’s “Early Childhood Care and Education.”
*On a side note, although I haven’t been able to personally contact an international early childhood professional, I have been following an early childhood program in Tanzania on Facebook. On a regular basis, there are pictures posted of various activities at the school. It’s interesting to see young children learning through these lessons in a different country. Below are just some examples of the photos posted on Facebook:
* All photos are copyrighted and owned by My World Preschool*
To learn more about this international early childhood program in Tanzania, please go to their website at: www.myworldpreschooltz.com or follow them on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/myworldpreschool.
Below are summaries and new insights I gained from listening to two pod casts presented by two international educators. Pod casts were apart of the World Forum Radio, an early childhood community. Listen to more pod casts like the ones listed by clicking here.
TJ Skalski, principal of Mother’s Earth Children’s Charter School, Canada
Ms. Skalski currently is serving in her second year at the Mother’s Earth Children’s Charter School in Alberta, Canada. Out of the 13 charter schools in Canada, Mother’s Earth Children’s Charter School is the only one with an indigenous focus. Ms. Skalski shared in the beginning of her pod cast that in 1985, her mother gained her rights back after marrying a non-Aubergine. Consequently, Ms. Skalski also gained her rights back federally, but according to her, she “never gained … rights back in the community” (Skalski, 2009). The journey to becoming the principal at this charter school was a bit of a long process, but it was strongly guided by her grandmother. During her first year serving as the principal, “it was hell” (Skalski, 2009), however during her second consecutive year, she is beginning to learn more about the school and the students.
She is a strong supporter and advocate for the vision and mission of the school, which works to put culture and language as a priority. Ms. Skalski believes that this is essential to the “survival and progress of our people” (Skalski, 2009). Ms. Skalski often wonders how she is a person that always saw more for herself, and she equates this attribute to the strong work ethic and support of her mother and grandparents. This strong family support, she commented, is what is missing in today’s generation. So often she encounters children who are “damaged, wounded, scarred, hungry, depressed, or not able to see their worth” (Skalski, 2009). She is avidly working to help build up the dreams, hopes, and visions of the children she interacts with to help them see that there is so much more than what they currently see (Skalski, 2009).
Listening to Ms. Skalski, I learned that it is imperative that we help foster positive family relationships both in a school environment and within the home. As our world is being consumed by more poverty, crime rates, and negativity, young children are in desperate need for family support. While early childhood educators are important, families are the main supporters for these young children. Without the assistance of family support, more children will enter the school system like the children Ms. Skalski has come across. As early childhood educators, we need to focus intensely on building up and partnering with families to help leave a positive impact on children, which will encourage them to reach for their hopes and dreams.
Deevia Bhana, Natal, South America
(click here to listen to full pod cast)
Deevia Bhana currently works as a professor in South America and is in the process of authoring a book that focuses on gender and sexuality issues in young children. More specifically, she is focusing on how these young children, between the ages of 6 and 9, understand the issue of HIV/AIDS. Ms. Bhana shared a story about a young girl, age 7, in South America. This girl has a deep fear of boys and men, which is realistic due to the “high prevalence of sexual and gender violence and the myths that sex with young girls cures HIV/AIDS” (Bhana, 2010) in South America. Realizing her fears, the girl tried to come up ways to address them, including running away or just saying no. However, sadly, the men wouldn’t listen and still would rape her.
Ms. Bhana shifted her conversation to her book she is currently working on. This book will focus on how gender and sexuality are entwined with AIDS/HIV. This issue lacks adequate research and often remains unaddressed with young children in attempts to protect them from abstract issues. In addition, poor attention on gender and sexuality with young children is a result from the “dominant ways that young children don’t have the capacity to understand gender issues” (Bhana, 2010). Ms. Bhana argues these points in her upcoming books by addressing the concerns and fears of young children through listening and focusing on the voices of young children. Her book provides strategies and recommendations for early childhood educators to help them effectively address the issues of gender and sexuality with young children.
As I listened (and re-listened) to Ms. Bhana, I began to see how important it is to address tough issues with young children. While gender and sexuality issues may be a controversial topic, it still needs to be developmentally appropriately addressed in early childhood education. Just because these are young children doesn’t mean that they don’t have fears, concerns, or questions in regards to who they are are a boy or a girl. If we simply ignore it or choose not to talk it about it, it may present a negative image to these young children. If a holistic approach to learning and development is to be taken in early childhood, then these “tough issues” need to be addressed and given a safe place to discuss and explore. In addition, Ms. Bhana’s pod cast also taught me that just because children are young doesn’t mean that they won’t understand tough issues. They have a voice, just like adults do, that deserve to be heard. As early childhood educators, we need to take time to listen to these children and help them feel like they are being heard. It is through this endeavor that they will truly be able to grasp optimal development, learning, and growth.
Both the pod casts of Ms. Skalski and Ms. Bhana deeply interested me and challenged me to explore these issues on a deeper level. Therefore, I emailed both of these presenters with additional questions to help guide my understanding and knowledge. I asked Ms. Skalski about some of the ways she is helping her students to overcome some of the negative barriers they face and if she focuses on building up more families relationships. I asked Ms. Bhana if she believes addressing gender and sexuality issues with young children will foster a positive outlook on early childhood mental health. Although both emails were sent earlier this week, I haven’t heard back from either one. Therefore, as I wait for a response, I explored the UNESCO’s Early Childhood Care and Education website. Listed below are a few new insights I gained from this website:
- Quality early childhood education is necessarily if children are to optimally grow and development.
UNESCO’s website dedicated a page to the quality level within early childhood education. Reading through this description, everything that I have been learning in the past several months as been further emphasized. High quality isn’t just one aspect or even two. Rather it is a combination of several aspects, like curriculum, adequately training professionals, inspection and follow-up with programs, parent involvement, and play and learning activities. When all of these components collaborate together, a holistic early learning approach to learning and development is created, which provides an optimal future outlook for children. (To read more about quality, please click here.)
- Collaboration and cooperation from various sectors are essential for early childhood education.
In another section on UNESCO’s website, they described the ebb and flow that is necessary between various sectors at an national, state, and local level. One fact that really impacted me was that there must be a common vision and goal in order for effective cooperation to occur. I never realized that a commonality about the goals, mission, and vision of early childhood education must be created in order for optimal effectiveness and quality to occur. Without this, people will be focused on different aspects, and little will be achieved. Commonality is an imperative factor that is woven between the collaboration and cooperation of all the sectors that play a part, either big or small, in early childhood education. (To read more about these partnerships, please click here.)
- Funding is a HUGE issue in early childhood education.
UNESCO’s website highlighted the fact that many countries still do not prioritize or allocate funds towards early learning. Often, funds for this area are small, as there is a larger focus on primary education. A private sector may be an effective strategy to utilize to help bring in monetary support for this field. We as early childhood educators need to continuously advocate and remain aware about the funding issues. (To read more about funding issues, please click here.)
- Access and equality must remain a priority to effectively receive all children.
Some countries are struggling with access and equality for all children in the realm of early childhood education. Privileged children may have better access to early learning programs, while low-income or at-risk children have fewer opportunities. The government needs to increase attention and priority in early childhood education to help crease an equal accessibility for all children to have a quality, early childhood education that will help prepare them for future success. (To read more about access and equality, please click here.)
Overall, both the pod casts and the UNESCO’s website further shaped and guided my knowledge about early childhood education that increased my awareness about important issues, like funding, access, gender and sexuality issues, and family relationships. This has equipped me to become a more effective educator.
Bhana, D. (2009, October 19). Episode2: Deevia Bhana. World Forum Radio. Podcast Retrieved from http://ccie-media.s3.amazonaws.com/podcasts/WFR_DeeviaBhana.mp3
Skalski, T. (2010, April 17). Episode 7: TJ Skalski. World Forum Radio. Podcast Retrieved from http://ccie-media.s3.amazonaws.com/podcasts/WFR_07_TJSkalski.mp3
UNESCO. (2010). Early childhood care and education. Retrieved from http://www.unesco.org/new/en/education/themes/strengthening-education-systems/early-childhood/