A Declaration to Defend Appropriate Early Care and Education Experiences for Young Children
When I read that students from a coalition of Southern California Colleges and Universities produced a “Declaration to Defend Public Education”, I felt compelled to follow their leadership and begin work on a Declaration to Defend Early Childhood. I hope that others will provide their input and that by the end of this summer, we will have produced a comprehensive and meaningful document to defend the rights of young children within our educational system.
The Rights of Young Children to Appropriate Early Care and Education Experiences:
We, the teachers, caregivers, parents and advocates for young children call upon all Community Members, Educators, Policy-Makers and Stakeholders to evaluate the current state of the early care and education delivery system and commit to implementing the changes necessary to provide the best possible early care and education experiences for young children (birth through age 8).
- All young children deserve early care and education experiences that address all their needs – cognitive, physical, social-emotional, language and approach to learning.
- All young children have intents, needs, behaviors, goals and concerns that may or may not be appropriately interpreted by adults viewing child behavior through their own adult eyes.
- All young children deserve to be supported and encouraged within early care and education settings by adults that are professionally prepared to address their intents, needs, behaviors, goals and concerns.
- All young children have a right to quiet time, free choice time, nutritious meals, adequate undisturbed rest, and access to outdoor and natural environments.
In order to support these rights of young children, certain measures are necessary.
- An economic investment in the diverse Early Care and Education delivery system is crucial. This economic investment must be guaranteed.
- Regular, ongoing monitoring of the diverse Early Care and Education delivery system is essential. This regular ongoing monitoring must take place annually.
- Those that teach young children must have an educational background that includes at minimum 12 semester units of Early Childhood Education or Child Development coursework at an accredited community college, college or university.
- Those that receive public funding to care for young children (0-8 years of age) must have an educational background that includes at minimum 6 semester units of Early Childhood Education or Child Development coursework at an accredited community college, college or university or a minimum of 40 pre-service hours of training by an approved training entity such as Child Care Resource and Referral, Association for the Education of Young Children, Association of Family Child Care, PITC, Infant Development Association, RIE, or approved Foster Care or Relative Care coursework.
- Those teachers that work with young children (ages 2- 8 years of age) in a public or private school setting must have a credential specific to Early Childhood Education. Until such time as this credential is widely available, these teachers shall be required to enroll in Early Education or Child Development coursework at an accredited community college, college, or university until they have attained at minimum 24 semester units of Early Childhood Education or Child Development.
- Homework for young children must be aimed primarily at developing a positive approach to learning and a relationship between the school and family. For this reason, homework for young children must be focused on principles of family literacy, creativity, and social-emotional skills development. Homework for young children must be an enjoyable activity that promotes a positive relationship between home and school.
- All young children must have access to substantial free time, both indoors and out of doors as well as regular physical activity both structured and unstructured. Free time and recess periods must never be taken away as a form of punishment. Instead, teachers must investigate pro-social skills development strategies that support children who may exhibit challenging behaviors.
- Technology shall be viewed as a supportive tool for young children and a resource tool for teachers. Whenever possible, teachers shall consider meaningful hands-on learning experiences as preferable to the use of technology. Unless as a supportive device for learners with special needs, the use of technology shall not be for a period greater than 7.5% of the program day for preschool-aged children and not more than 15% of the program day for children Kindergarten through 3rd Grade. Unless necessary, children under two shall not be exposed to technology outside of music.