A simple expression of thanks and more childhood quotes to think about…..

Thank you to all of my colleagues in my Early Childhood Development course, it has been nice learning from you and discussing various childhood development topics with you all.  I wish you all well as you continue on your educational and life’s journey; however before parting ways (providing we don’t meet again in future classes), I leave with you something to think about…….

Here are a couple of great quotes about children,

“Hugs can do great amounts of good, especially for children.” Princess Diana, Princess of Wales

“Children are our most valuable resource.” Herbert Hoover, 31st U.S. president

“Children are great imitators. So give them something great to imitate.” Anonymous

And this one is my favorite of the four mentioned here, it represents my view about the importance of childhood education and preparing our children to succeed in life….

“I continue to believe that if children are given the necessary tools to succeed, they will succeed beyond their wildest dreams!” David Vitter, U.S. senator

Childhood Assessments

In considering the concept of the “whole child”, I think children should be assessed as early as preschool; however I believe that at a young age, assessment should be done cautiously and to identify any possible learning disabilities/gifted abilities and to determine the appropriate intervention or teaching method.  I believe also that assessments should be used to determine development and learning and on some level, assessments should also be used to monitor a child’s progress and measure mastery of skills taught.  Because development is an on-going process, I believe assessments should also be an on-going process at different periods during a school year, as well as at different ages of a child’s life (i.e. at various grade levels).

In the United States, depending on the type of school a child attends, assessment may began as early as 4 years old—although most assessments at this young age usually involve a summative and formative approach. A great deal of schools begin standardized testing at 8 years old and older.

I researched Iceland to see how they approach childhood assessments in early childhood and I was able to note some similarities and some differences between the United States and Iceland.  Here in the United States, teachers and school systems conduct assessment tests; assessment tests in Iceland (during the preschool years) are usually conducted by qualified psychologists or preschool teachers with post graduate qualifications.  Assessments begin as early as preschool and continue throughout secondary school.  Assessments during the preschool years are to determine/identify any learning disabilities and to determine the proper intervention as early as possible.  In the primary and secondary school years, assessments are used to measure performance in various core subjects, working methods, social skills and communication skills.  The assessments in Iceland are seemingly similar to the United States;however, different from most public schools in the United States who participate in the NCLB Act (No Child Left Behind).  In Iceland, the child progresses to either upper secondary schooling programs (if they pass the assessment), or lower secondary schooling programs (if they fail the assessment—however these students still have the opportunity to test into an upper secondary schooling program).  In either event, pass or fail, students are not kept back a grade.  I assume the lower level schooling program would be aimed at helping the child improve those skills he/she may be lacking in, with the ultimate goal of progressing to higher secondary schooling programs.

Sources: Information on childhood assessments in Iceland were retrieved from, http://www.european-agency.org/agency-projects/assessment-in-inclusive-settings/assessment-database-of-key-topics/iceland/implementation-of-assessment-policy

Childhood Stressors

I personally have been blessed in that growing up I have not experienced any stressors such as war, poverty, racism, natural disaster, etc; however I know that this is not the case for many young children in our country and other countries for that matter.

As I researched the topic I was interested to see how children in countries that are in war zones, or children who see violence on a daily basis deal with these stressors.  I read about children in Afghanistan, more specifically young girls in Afghanistan, and for many of these young girls, they walk out of their homes into a war zone.  To add to that stressor, many of them experience violence simply because they are attempting to get an education; gender discrimination and violence, in some cases, are unfortunately norms.  These young girls experience abuse from their family members and some of them have to worry about whether or not they will be attacked on their way to school and/or during school.  According to an article I read from CNN, some of the young girls have been attacked by having acid thrown in their faces and some even have had their drinks poisoned.  Many of these young girls have died in attacks on their schools and many of them, once married, are forced to drop out of school (Torgan, 2012). These young girls may suffer from physical and emotional abuse. While this is a divided issue in Afghanistan, some individuals and groups actually support young girls getting an education and therefore support efforts to continue educating these young girls.  Advocate groups such as, UNICEF, Save the Children and Oxfam continue to speak out for these young girls and continue to strive to make a difference in the country.

Childhood Immunizations

Childhood immunizations are very important, in my opinion, as they may help to prevent the spread of infectious diseases as well as save the lives of children.  Throughout the years, we have seen a vast improvement or increase in vaccines and while some may argue the necessity of some of these immunizations, the truth of the matter is that vaccines have helped to control the spread of diseases/illnesses that were at one point, common in our country (i.e. chicken pox, measles, mumps, etc.).

As parents, we do all we can to protect our babies and children in any and every way we can.  I remember when my children were younger I did everything within my power to make sure they stayed safe and I still do— some may say I’m a bit overprotective, but that’s a different story for a different blog.   At any rate, I plugged the outlets with those little plastic safety plugs, latched low cabinets, blocked off certain areas of the house with the little baby fences and when they became of age to where they were able to sleep in the toddler beds, I made sure they had the side rails to prevent them from rolling out of the bed and onto the floor (and mind you, these were toddler beds…. they were already low to the floor).  Till this day, they are not allowed to ride in the front seat of the car and they must wear their seat belts (for those old enough to ride without a car seat) or they must be in their car seats.  Oh and they must also wear helmets and knee pads when riding bicycles or skating on skate boards…..the list could go on and on.  Nothing so far out of the ordinary, right? Well I say all this to say that immunizations are just as important as all these seemingly “little” efforts that we make to protect our infants and children.

As I studied childhood immunizations, I researched other countries to see if they too, considered the matter to be of great significance.  I am glad to report that while there are obviously some countries that may not have adequate medical supplies or medicines, most of them actually believe that childhood immunizations are important.   I looked into one of our neighbors, Canada, and I discovered that they also consider childhood immunizations to be very important.  The children in Canada are on a vaccine schedule just as infants and children in the United States.  Parents may obviously visit their child’s pediatrician for vaccines, or they may visit a local public health authority to get the proper vaccines for their children.  Just as some vaccines are not funded through local public health authorities in the U.S., so it is in Canada; however parents still have the option to get their child vaccinated, they just have to pay out of pocket if they have no insurance to cover it.  Parents in Canada receive shot records to help them keep track of their child’s vaccine history, just as parents in the U.S.  Canada even advises parents to plan ahead when traveling to ensure that if they are traveling to another country their children have the proper vaccines to protect them from diseases that may be a threat outside of Canada, the same as the U.S. (http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hl-vs/iyh-vsv/med/immuniz-eng.php).

As a mom and a future professional in the early childhood field, I think learning about vaccines and staying up to date with information on vaccines can help to keep other parents informed and educated, as well as help in controlling the potential spread of diseases and illnesses to other children.  I guess you can say, it’s kind of like a duty, or….. a reasonable service!

Birthing Experiences

In my current class we were discussing birthing experiences.  I have four children and with each child I had a different experience—some faster and less painful, but each experience was wonderful nonetheless! Since I have four children, I’ll just discuss the birthing experience of my first child to save time…

With my first child I had a pretty normal pregnancy; however toward the end my pressure was a little high and she seemed to be sitting on a nerve (my face had sort of twisted as seen with some individuals after suffering from a stroke) so needless to say, I was put on bed rest for the last two weeks of my pregnancy.  My labor was induced so I was not awarded the opportunity to be taken by surprise by unexpected labour pains or the breaking of my water; instead I arrived at the hospital at 5:30 a.m. with my husband, my mother and my overnight bag (packed with my clothes, my bible, a CD player—which I did not use— and baby’s first outfit).  I knew I was going to be induced so I pre-registered with the hospital, as my doctor had instructed, so that morning I only had to sign in at the registration desk and then up to my room we went.  I changed into my hospital gown, answered some questions the nurse had for me and the induction process began.

Now I know a lot of women who made the decision to take no medication during their labour, but I was not one of those women.  I opted to take medicine at the first sign of pain, which at first was just some type of pain reliever medicine (I didn’t do the epidural in the very beginning, that came in hours and multiple severe contractions later).  After taking the pain reliever medication I fell asleep and stayed asleep for hours.  I awoke to severe contractions and by this time I requested the epidural, thankfully I safely received that and dosed back off to sleep.  This time, I stayed sleep until about 30 minutes before it was time for me to begin pushing….I kid you not!

When I awoke, my delivery room was full of family! Being that I was the baby girl in my family and my husband is an only child, it seemed as though everyone came out as soon as they could to witness this event.  My mom and dad were there, my four sisters were there (my brother had to work—I am one of six children), three of my nieces were there, my grandmother was there and my husband’s mother and father were there—when I say the room was full of family, believe me it was packed! Since I had been sleeping through my labour, I had no idea when they had all gotten there, but I remember feeling loved and especially supported (I was surrounded by wisdom, women who had been through this once or several times before me)!

My family did not all remain in the delivery room during the delivery of my daughter, but they did stay right up until the moment the nurse said it was time to start pushing.  I remember right before leaving my grandmother gathered everyone to say a prayer for the safe delivery of my baby girl and then there was just my husband, my mother, the nurses and myself; the doctor didn’t come in until the baby was ready to make her appearance and at that point, I remember she had to hurry and put on her gloves because my darling girl was coming much faster than she’d (the doctor) expected! Finally after about 14 and a half hours of labor, my daughter was born safely into this world.  I remember crying the moment she came out and in the background, I could hear the music the hospital played every time a baby was born.  Moments later they placed a bushy-haired, 8 Ib 11oz, 21 inches long, baby girl into my arms! I stayed in the hospital for two days (only because my daughter did not pass her hearing test on the first try, so she had to be retested the next day) and my daughter stayed in the room with me—according to the nurse, the nursery was reserved for babies who either had medical concerns of their own, or their mother’s had medical issues that did not allow her to properly care for her child.

I, of course, am in the United States and I was born and raised in the United States and while this is only one (and probably a very common method) of the child birthing methods that many women in our country share, I know that this may not be the same in other countries.  As I was researching birthing experiences in various parts of the world, the one that stood out to me was the Netherlands.  According to an article I read (Parents.com), women are actually encouraged and referred to a midwife practice by their family doctor.  In the event that the woman has complications during child birth or she experiences a high risk pregnancy, the doctor will intervene; however most women give birth at home and even if the decision is made to give birth in a hospital, the midwife generally determines when it is an acceptable time to go to the hospital.  Now in my case, I opted to have an epidural, but in the Netherlands, epidurals are usually not given as it depends on whether or not it is deemed necessary, or the anesthesiologist is available to give the epidural.  I stayed in the hospital for two days, which would have been only one day had my daughter passed her hearing test; however in the Netherlands, the woman may go home the same day if of course all is well and she gives birth early in the day.  Another difference is that my husband and I went home to care for our child on our own (of course still with the support of our family, but we lived on our own so we were obviously solely responsible for caring for our daughter), but in the Netherlands, the mom usually receives help from a nurse, I guess based on whether or not she has insurance, for about a week.   The nurse not only helps in caring for mom and baby, but she also cleans the house, cooks and “controls” the number of  visitors mom, dad and baby receive—wow! Now I don’t know about anyone else, but this seems like a pretty good birthing experience…even with the “no epidural” matter!

Early Childhood Code of Ethics

I do not work in the early childhood field; however I aspire to.  As I read up on the code of ethics of various organizations in the early childhood field, these were some of the codes that stood out to me as a parent and as someone striving to obtain a career in the early childhood field. 

National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Code of Ethics

1)      “To respect the dignity and preferences of each family and to make an effort to learn about its structure, culture, language, customs, and beliefs.”

          -I believe this is an important ethical code because with this being such a diverse country, we are bound to work with individuals who are different than ourselves and we need to be sensitive to this at all times.  When professionals working with children and their families educate themselves about different cultures, beliefs and customs they are more open to accept others who may be different, even when they don’t understand and/or agree with them. 

2.)  “To share information about each child’s education and development with families and to help them understand and appreciate the current knowledge base of the early childhood profession.”

-I think this is important because at all times parents and families should be aware of how their children are benefiting from their early childhood program.  This not only serves to inform parents and families, but it is also a good way to get them involved in their child’s education and development.

3.)  “We shall be familiar with and appropriately refer families to community resources and professional support services.  After a referral has been made, we shall follow up to ensure that services have been appropriately provided.”

-This ethical code is one that requires professionals to go above and beyond what may be required of them.  I desire to educate children, but I also desire to counsel both children and their families who may be in need of such services.  I think a good part of showing people that you truly care and have their best interest at heart, is being able and willing to go the extra step; this ethical code does just that, it requires that professionals not only refer their families who are in need of help to the appropriate community resources and support services, but they also follow up with them to ensure that they received the help they were in need of. 

Division for Early Childhood (DEC) Code of Ethics

1.)    “We shall continually be aware of issues challenging the field of early childhood special education and advocate for changes in laws, regulations, and policies leading to improved outcomes and services for young children with disabilities and their families.”

-This is important because in order to provide children with the best care and/or education, professionals must remain aware of the issues relating to and affecting children.  It is also important that professionals keep families informed about issues related to and affecting their children.

2.)    “We shall advocate for equal access to high quality services and supports for all children and families to enhance their quality of lives.”

          -This is important because every child deserves the best care and education—regardless to where they live, their race, culture, etc.

3.)    “We shall support professionals new to the field by mentoring them in the practice of evidence and ethically based services.”

          -This is a good ethical code because it is comforting to know that there are experienced professionals in the field willing to offer support and guidance to someone new to the profession.

These are a few of my favorite things……

This is one of my favorite children books! My youngest daughter loves this book and my older children also enjoyed it when they were younger.  This book is fun and funny—at least the kiddies will think so and it can be used as an aid when teaching time. The story is about a group of monkeys that continually bother Mr. Crocodile, who in turn, decides to concoct a plan to rid himself of those pesky little monkeys.  I won’t give away the ending, but for those of you who have not had the pleasure of reading this book, no worries the ending is kid-friendly!

Fly_fishing : Father and son fishing at Eleven Mile Reservoir, Colorado.

Give a man a fish and you will feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you will feed him for a lifetime. ~Chinese Proverb

This is one of my favorite quotes and as it relates to children and education, I believe in order for our children to be successful in life, it is extremely important that we (parents and educators) go beyond just preparing them for tests.  If our children are to become our future leaders and assets to our society, it is essential that we equip them with the necessary “tools” to help them survive and thrive—-even after school.