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Getting to Know Your International Contacts – Part 3

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.”

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Posted by on February 23, 2013 in International Contacts, Week 7

 

Getting to Know Your International Contacts – Part 2

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  radio_yora
(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.

radio_chehabMaysoun 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.

gcigci-text

 

 

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.

References:

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

 
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Posted by on February 9, 2013 in International Contacts, Week 5

 

Getting to Know Your International Contacts – Part 1

Sadly, I must write that I have not been able to make any personal connections with international early childhood educators. It was an honest attempt over the past few weeks, with over 50 international educators contacted through different media outputs. I initially began with email addresses provided through the blog resources  in week 1. The only email that I received back (other than those that were returned to me for erroneous email addresses) requested that I find another professional, as a Walden student had already contacted them first. Therefore, I decided to find a few early childhood organizations through the popular media, Facebook. I was able to leave messages for two different groups, one located in Tanzania and the other in Australia. I actually heard back from both organizations, requesting more information. Emails were sent back to them with details and specific questions. However, it has been several days with no response. Therefore, I turned to the alternative to this assignment by listening to two pod casts through the World Forum Radio.

Irma Allen, Swaziland Development Authority radio_allen
(click here to listen)

Irma Allen is the Chairperson to the Swaziland Development Authority. In her pod cast, she shared with her listeners about utilizing the nature and environment around her. With nature being her classroom, she uses the nature as supplies to teach children, ranging from the dew on the trees, the water in the streams, or even the spiderwebs sparkling in the sun. Through the use of this “curriculum,” students (and even educators) are able to grow a deeper fondness and appreciation for the environment and world. Ms. Allen ended her pod cast with an example of a former student who went through this program. The student spoke highly of what he learned, including the fact that he felt loved and developed an appreciation for his home, environment, and the world. Although he had a rough past growing up, his early childhood experience gave him a place and role in life (Allen, 2009).

Listening to Ms. Allen’s pod cast, I am challenged to use the nature as supplies to teach my lessons. I would love to take the children outdoors and teach them through the snow, sun, wind, and even rain (under appropriate conditions). I was able to connect the fact that through using nature, not only are children learning academically, they are also developing an appreciation for the world around them. This fantastic program emphasizes a lot of great points, and I plan to incorporate them into my own daily lesson plans.

Delfina Mitchell, Liberty Children’s Home, Belize radio_mitchell
(click here to listen)

Delfina Mitchell is the director of Liberty Children’s House in Belize. This organization currently houses 42 children who have suffered from physical or sexual abuse, been abandoned or neglected. When a child first comes to this group home, they are given a period to heal and regroup from negative experiences, rather than being thrown into a school setting immediately. Ms. Mitchell shared a story about a nine year old boy who had come to this program within the past year. Due to extensive abuse and exposure to it, the boy wouldn’t speak. A home school setting was initiated for him, with an attempt to then transition into a more public school setting. This, however, was unsuccessful, as the boy was kicked out within a week. During a 30 minute horseback ride with Ms. Mitchell, the small boy began to speak about his past experiences. Although he was speaking, his language was difficult to hear, with apparent regression. The boy began to slowly be exposed to informal school time and plenty of time in the gardens. With the right amount of medication and schooling time, the boy is beginning to talk more and more (Mitchell, 2009).

As I listened to Ms. Mitchell’s pod cast, I was saddened to hear about the amount of abuse children endure in Central America. Furthermore, I was shocked to learn about the boy’s regression due to the amount of abuse he faced. This pod cast has taught me that children who are healing from abusive situations need plenty of time to heal on their own accord. A child cannot be rushed, and time is of the essence when gently guiding them back on track. There is no cookie-cutter mold for these children, as every child will have to be individually addressed. While I was discouraged to hear about children who face negative situations, I was pleased to know that Ms. Mitchell is impacted the lives of these children in a positive manner that will prepare them for future success.

 header_1After listening to these two pod casts, I searched for contact information for Ms. Allen and Ms. Mitchell. Emails were sent out to both of them, however no response has been received yet. In lieu of responses, I explored the Childhood Poverty Research and Policy Centre’s website to learn more about the poverty in India.

India (click here to learn more)map-india

Out of the 1.03 billion citizens in India, 260.2 million are in poverty, which puts this country at the top of the list for having the majority of poor people within South Asia.

Listed below are some of the insights I gained from researching about this country and poverty:

  •  Poverty hits areas, regions, and people in different wayssThroughout India, poverty affects regions in different ways. The rural area is often hit the hardest, suffering from a “lack of access to assets, skills, and low levels of health and education” (Childhood Poverty Research and Policy Centre, n.d).
  • With an increase in population, the resources to address poverty also needs to grow.As Asia faces a “growing population, industrialization and globalization” (Childhood Poverty Research and Policy Centre, n.d.). Tremendous pressure is placed on the healthcare system, as communicable and uncommunicable diseases are on the rise, especially among those in poverty.
  • Poverty in India has increased the amount of child labors, negatively impacting learning and development.While improvements are being made to help reduce infant morality rates and to improve school enrollment, almost half of the child population in India struggle with malnutrition. Furthermore, “20% of the world’s out-of-school children” (Childhood Poverty Research and Policy Centre, n.d.) are from India, with almost one-third of those children working under the age of 16.
  • Even though poverty remains a significant issue, action is being taken to help reduce poverty.

    Programs that are aimed to erase poverty or at least minimize the damage caused by it are directed by the central government. Three main programs are used to help reduce poverty: “rural employment creation and infrastructure development programmes, self-employment, and food subsidy programs” (Childhood Poverty Research and Policy Centre, n.d.). In addition, various rural work programs are also available. The Integrated Child Development Service Programs specifically targets children from birth to six years old (Childhood Poverty Research and Policy Centre, n.d.). 

Completing this assignment this week has really opened my eyes to the consequences negative experiences can have on children throughout their lives, but it also revealed a lot of different strategies and programs throughout the world that are working to help eliminate this negatively, which will help children reach their optimal potential.

References:

Allen, I. (2009, December 11). Episode 7: Irma Allen. World Forum Radio. Podcast Retrieved from http://ccie-media.s3.amazonaws.com/podcasts/WFR_05_IrmaAllen.mp3

Child Poverty Research and Policy Centre. (n.d.). Country Overviews [India]. Retrieved from http://www.childhoodpoverty.org/index.php?action=countryo#11

Mitchell, D. (2009, November 2). Episode 3: Delfina Mitchell. World Forum Radio. Podcast Retrieved from http://ccie-media.s3.amazonaws.com/podcasts/WFR_03_DelfenaMitchell.mp3

 
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Posted by on January 26, 2013 in International Contacts, Week 3