We've Heard from Teachers, Politicians: Now Let's Hear from Early Childhood Educators (Part I)
We’ve heard from the teachers. And we’ve heard from the policy-makers and the politicians. But how early childhood educators (ECEs) feel about the changes that are being made to early learning isn't being heard quite as often or as loudly.
After reading Kristen Rushowy's article last week and discovering how close the Ontario government is to making its final decisions about full-day kindergarten, I felt that parents really needed to hear what early childhood educators have to say about the role they hope to play as the province acts on the recommendations of the Early Learning Advisor (the so-called Pascal Report). This three-part series is the result.
PART I: INTERVIEW with JULIA LIPMAN, AECEOJulia Lipman, Communications and Marketing Manager for the Association of Early Childhood Educators of Ontario (AECEO), responded to a series of questions I posed about the future of early learning in Ontario. Her answers focus on the professionalism of early childhood educators; the specialized training they have received in dealing with young children; and the long-established tradition ECEs have in working in partnership with teachers.
What do ECEs want parents to know about the strengths and capabilities of early childhood educators?
JULIA LIPMAN: In addition to their commitment to parental engagement and play-based learning, registered early childhood educators work in a regulated profession. Early Childhood Educators, under the newly legislated Early Childhood Educators Act (2007), must be registered members of the College of Early Childhood Educators to use the professional title of Early Childhood Educator or Registered Early Childhood Educator. Members of the College are held accountable to a complaints and disciplinary process and standards of practice. Under the Act, registered early childhood educators have a mandated scope of practice to plan and deliver “inclusive play-based learning and care programs for children in order to promote the well-being and holistic development of children.”
Have ECEs and teachers traditionally functioned as allies/partners? Do you think a misstep by the Ontario government has the potential to damage relations between members of the two professions? What would be your advice to the people who making these decisions?
"The two professionals ultimately have a shared interest in
what is best for children, and registered early childhood educators
embrace the potential to serve children and families through
an equal partnership with certified teachers in a
full-day early learning environment."
JULIA LIPMAN: There are many examples across the province of learning environments in which registered early childhood educators and certified teachers work together in equal partnerships for the benefit of children and families. These programs result in happy learners and families, but have also produced very positive and professionally fulfilling relationships between registered early childhood educators and teachers. The two professionals ultimately have a shared interest in what is best for children, and registered early childhood educators embrace the potential to serve children and families through an equal partnership with certified teachers in a full-day early learning environment. The AECEO strongly urges the Ontario government to respect the research and expertise of the Early Learning Advisor’s report by implementing the vision of a blended team approach.What do ECEs want to say to parents as the Ontario government is set to make really key decisions about the future of education in this province?
JULIA LIPMAN: Ontario’s families are diverse in many ways, and their needs are individual. The new early learning and care system outlined in the Early Learning Advisor’s report would support children and families with a continuum of learning and one-stop resources including health and nutritional guidance, developmental assessment and support resources, community connections and parental engagement strategies. These services would be widely available and open to all those involved in the care of young children, not just to families who utilize full-day learning programs for four and five-year-olds.
The time has come to take a fragmented system of valuable programs and resources and turn it into a cohesive system that works for Ontario’s families. In order to do that, the Early Learning Advisor’s Report must be implemented in its entirety. This is an interdependent systems approach. If the Ontario government follows through on this plan, our province will become an example of innovations in early learning and care on the world stage.