5

International Jobs/Roles in the ECE Community

I believe that we are all able to leave positive marks in the lives of young children. Therefore, the following organizations appealed to me as they are advocating for the rights of children around the globe:

  • United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)
  • United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
  • Save the Children

UNICEF is a global organization that has spent 70 years defending the rights of children to improve their lives, as well as the lives of their families. They are currently working in 190 countries and believe that every child has the “right to survive, thrive, and fulfill their potential” and in so doing would create a better world (UNICEF, n.d.).   Together with their partners, UNICEF programs focus on the most disadvantaged children including those in extreme poverty, those with disabilities, those in fragile environments, and the right for girls to be educated (UNICEF, n.d.). A current role that interests me is that of individual international consultant on early childhood development based in Ha Noi, Vietnam. This person would provide proficiency in drafting the National Integrated Early Childhood Development (IECD) document, facilitate consultation meetings and workshops between different levels of stakeholders, as well as support the finalization of the IECD policy document (UNICEF, n.d.). This person would need to have an advanced university degree specific to health, nutrition, or early childhood development, as well as 10 years experience in a managerial role of ECD related programs. Furthermore, he or she needs to have adequate knowledge of UNICEF’s child development initiatives and excellent computer skills such as MS Word, Devinfo, or MICS (UNICEF, n.d).

UNESCO coordinates international cooperation in education, science, culture, and communication. In addition, it encourages collaboration between different nations and societies in order to ensure that children have access to quality education, that they may grow and live in an environment that is diverse in culture and language, that they can benefit from scientific progress, and that they have freedom of expression, human development, and dignity (UNESCO, 2017). This organization has opportunities for international professional staff where the person will be hired internationally and work in managerial roles across the globe in different areas such as education aiming to improve the worldwide education of children leading to social and economic development (UNESCO, 2017). For this role, the person needs to have an advanced university degree in education, cultures, science, social and human sciences, communication, business administration, or a related field. Furthermore, fluency in English or French is essential. Prior experience in the organization is also needed and the incumbent would have to possess integrity, professionalism, respect for diversity, as well as commitment to the organization’s mission (UNESCO, 2017).

Save the Children is an organization who believes that all children deserve a future and are committed to carry out programs in a way that keeps children safe and protects them from harm. In addition, they aim to put children first and ensure their well-being and safety (Save the Children, 2017). I am interested in the role of senior education advisor in Sierra Leone. This role entails being responsible for the implementation of the education program in this country and maintaining it in the four operational districts. In addition, the program needs to enforce Save the Children’s global and national strategies, as well as the government’s policies and strategies (Save the Children, 2017). The incumbent needs to have a Bachelors degree in social work, human rights law, international relations, development studies or an equivalent field. Experience in education in emergency or general education is essential. Excellent interpersonal, communication, and presentation skills are needed to ensure collaboration with different stakeholders, as well as the community can take place. As this is a conflict area, previous safety training for working in conflict settings would be an advantage, as well as living and working in countries with similar contexts to Sierra Leone (Save the Children, 2017).

References

Save the Children. (2017). Retrieved June 15, 2017 from http://www.savethechildren.org/site/c.8rKLIXMGIpI4E/b.6115947/k.8D6E/Official_Site.htm

United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). (n.d.). Retrieved June 15, 2017, from http://www.unicef.org/

United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). (2017). Retrieved June 15, 2017 from http://en.unesco.org/

1

Jobs and Roles in the ECE Community

Becoming part of organizations which aim to improve the quality of education and life for young children is an important factor that ensures professional growth and keeping up to date with issues related to the field of early childhood education. Therefore, the following organizations resonated with me as valuable stepping stones in my own professional growth:

  • Association for Childhood Education International (ACEI)
  • Zero to Three
  • National Association for Family, School, and Community Engagement (NAFSCE)

ACEI aims to advocate for the use of inventive solutions to education challenges in order to create positive and sustainable futures for children around the globe and also acknowledges that stimulating learning environments are essential to the success of children in their development stages (Association for Childhood Education International [ACEI], n.d.). ACEI runs a country liaison program where volunteer liaisons gather information regarding different practices and policies of the nation they are in and by sharing this data ACEI can develop programs, as well as promote international and intercultural understanding (ACEI, n.d.). Liaisons can come from various disciplines within early childhood education and development, but must have significant connections with colleagues in their nation as this aids in gathering and distributing information (ACEI, n.d.)

Zero to Three strives to ensure that all babies and toddlers have a strong start in life and aims for a society that has the relevant knowledge to support these children in reaching their potential (Zero to Three, 2017). Furthermore, this organization sees the value in the what is being done for young children, as well as in the approach that needs to be followed in order to garner better outcomes for young children and their parents (Zero to Three, 2017). A possible role that is of interest to me is that of regional field specialist. This person provides training and technical assistance to federal staff and aids in support to the design and delivery of comprehensive school readiness services for children between the ages of zero to five years of age (Zero to Three, 2017). Skills and experience needed for this role includes a master’s degree in early childhood education or a related field, as well as a minimum of seven years experience within the field with knowledge of childhood development in the early years, knowledge of classroom observation, knowledge of the Head Start program performance standards, knowledge of public pre-k programming trends and regulations, willingness to travel, being able to work independently and as part of a team, and strong oral, written, and computer skills (Zero to Three, 2017).

NAFSCE focuses on advancing family, school, and community engagement and provides a platform for incorporating high impact practices and evidence based policies in order to ensure student achievement and success (National Association for Family, School, and Community Engagement [NAFSCE], 2017). It envisions a society where family engagement will be practiced globally and is seen as essential in a child’s development (NAFSCE, 2017). A possible position at NAFSCE that interests me is the director of capacity building programs. The role includes identifying, designing, coordinating, and evaluating the quality of different programs and services which would assist in advancing high impact family, school, and community engagement practices (NAFSCE, 2017). In order to fulfill this position the candidate needs to have a master’s degree in education, as well as have experience in working with culturally diverse families, especially families from low-income backgrounds. Additionally, the person needs relevant knowledge and understanding of family, school, and community engagement programs, as well as how to design quality programs to promote this engagement, and then also possess the relevant computer skills such as Microsoft Office (NAFSCE, 2017).

References

Association for Childhood Education International. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.acei.org/

National Association for Family, School and Community Engagement. (2017). Retrieved from http://nafsce.org/

Zero to Three: National Center for Infants, Toddlers, and Families. (2017). Retrieved from http://www.zerotothree.org/

2

Roles in my Local ECE Community

Hope Worldwide South Africa (http://www.hopeworldwidesa.org/index.php), MES Johannesburg (http://mes.org.za/), and the Seester Church (https://www.seester.co.za/) are different organizations based in Johannesburg (where I grew up and wish to return) that reach out to the community in different ways. These organizations also focus on young children and families and aim to assist and educate them with the hopes that they would develop to their fullest potential as every child should. Throughout this program I have come to understand the importance of the developing years of a child and how this development will have effects that will last well into the adult years. Therefore, I want to get involved and do my part to ensure that children and families will have access to quality education no matter their social class in order to build a future community where the adults will thrive and have a sense of worth instilled in them.

Within these organizations there are different job roles that interest me. These include volunteering my time at different preschools and nursery schools to aid children in developing their different numeracy and literacy skills, a lot of the time in English (which are the children’s second language) and is my current profession. Getting involved in the parent support programs is also of interest to me, as this is where parents and families are educated on how to assist in their own child’s development, as well as enabling them to join parent support group meetings and different playgroups which give parents essential knowledge regarding their children and the skills needed to succeed and develop across all domains.

One of the most important skills that I would need in these job roles would be compassion, love, and patience toward the children and their families. Being open to understand that we are never too old to learn and that the work of an early childhood practitioner is an everlasting journey (Derman-Sparks & Olsen Edwards, 2010) would enable me to serve my hometown community and ensure that together with other like-minded people I am able to ensure the well-being of the young children there.

References

Derman-Sparks, L., & Olsen Edwards, J. (2010). Anti-bias education for young children and ourselves. Washington, D.C.: National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).

3

The End

As we reach the end of this program, my wish is that we would be able to raise and educate children in such a way that non bias and equity is something that comes natural and is seen as the norm. I hope that I can contribute to this idea by starting with the children and families that I teach and interact with. When people do onto others as they wish to have done onto themselves we would be that much closer to reaching a world that it is in harmony and one where people truly care for each other no matter their differences or similarities.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all my classmates and Dr. Pickens for a great eight weeks. You have broadened my thinking and have taught me so many new ways to approach different situations. I wish you every success for the last chapter of this journey and for you as an early childhood educator working with children and families.

2

The Negative Impacts on Early Childhood Development

Growing up, I definitely took something like education for granted. As a child it never occurred to me that not everyone in the world had access to this or that there were certain groups that felt girls should not have access to this very important right in life. Therefore, I chose to focus on UNICEF’s West and Central Africa’s regional website.

Children and families in this region face different challenges that I cannot imagine living through. These include adversity such as a food shortage crisis leading to malnutrition and one where 139 out of 1000 die before their fifth birthday (UNICEF, n.d. b). Additionally, “the child protection issues are still very dire: several hundreds of children are still enrolled in armed groups; an estimated 68% of the girls are married before 18; less than half of the births are registered.” (UNICEF, n.d. b). In Nigeria, the country is also facing the Boko Haram crisis where over 1.3 million children are uprooted or trapped by this militant group (UNICEF, n.d. a).

In their early years, children deserve the opportunities and resources to develop to their fullest potential and become the best versions of themselves possible (Derman-Sparks & Olsen Edwards, 2010). Children that face adversity such as war, malnutrition, poverty, and etcetera do not have these opportunities and this has a negative impact on their development in significant ways. UNICEF (2016) mentioned the importance of a child’s brain  development in the first seven years of his or her life and how this development will become the building blocks of that child’s future emotional well-being, as well as their ability to learn. When children are exposed to adversities as mentioned above they are exposed to toxic stress which results in “life-long consequences to their cognitive, social and physical development. (UNICEF, 2016, para. 3). These adverse factors rob children of a safe environment where they are able to learn and grow with the assistance of their families, friends, and communities.

One of the most important insights I have gained from this assignment is that we should never take education or the importance thereof for granted. In my anti-bias approach toward education, I hope to educate and teach the students that I interact with that compassion and love toward one another is something that comes naturally and when we celebrate each other as individuals we would be able to create a world where everyone has the opportunity to be born into a safe, loving, and caring world. Until then, my hope is to raise young children that would be able to stand up for themselves and others when they are being treated unfairly or unjustly, for being different than what society wants them to be.

References

Derman-Sparks, L., & Olsen Edwards, J. (2010). Anti-bias education for young children and ourselves. Washington, D.C.: National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).

UNICEF. (2016, March 24). 87 million children under 7 have known nothing but conflict. Retrieved from https://www.unicef.org/wcaro/english/media_10172.html

UNICEF. (n.d. a). Boko Haram Crisis. Retrieved April 22, 2017, from https://www.unicef.org/wcaro/english/media_10897.html

UNICEF. (n.d. b). Central African Republic Crisis. Retrieved April 22, 2017, from https://www.unicef.org/wcaro/english/media_10898.html

1

Sexualization in the Early Years

“The sexualization of childhood is having a profoundly disturbing impact on children’s understanding of gender, sexuality, and relationships.” (Levin & Kilbourne, 2009, p. 3) and apart from shock, I was saddened by the ideas and impacts shared in this week’s reading, So Sexy So Soon. To me it once again became clear how important the healthy development of a child in the early years is (including positive sexual development) as this lays the foundation for the experiences and actions of a child, and one day the adult that that child will become.

In South Korea looks and beauty are extremely important and impacts how you are perceived by your peers, not only in a professional capacity, but also a personal one. Children are encouraged to be skinny and have pale, glowing skin that portrays their natural beauty (Park, 2017). I have witnessed some of these sexualized cultural ideals in my classroom or in the media on a few occasions such as one five year old boy who was sweating during a gross motor skills class that told us how good it was to sweat because it means that you are dieting. There is also a pretty death noose decorated with gems and sold as a children’s toy. When I asked my Korean co-teacher about it she said it showed that beauty died. Then there is the K-pop culture where girl groups are seen wearing skimpy and tight outfits (that would have had my mother send me back to change into something at least covering the top part of my legs), as well as having sexy dance routines to accompany some very controversial lyrics at times.

These examples mentioned above could lead to little girls and boys being pushed into a sexual appearance of what they should look like in order to fit in and be beautiful, long before they are ready to understand these messages (Levin & Kilbourne, 2009). It could contribute to higher self-loathing in themselves as they become tweens, teens, and adults. It could lead to them disrespecting their bodies and blaming victims when sexual crimes are committed. It could lead to eating disorders, extreme plastic surgery make-overs in order to alter their appearance, and etcetera. Additionally, it could damage a child’s overall development as they would never believe that they are good enough in the eyes of their peers and society and this would not only affect their educational and learning journey, but also foster a negative identity within them.

Children need positive adult interaction and guidance when dealing with these confusing messages. This means that early childhood educators need to give children the opportunity to ask their questions about a variety of topics, but always answer them in a way most effective to their developmental age and in a concrete manner, that they would understand. It is important to not shy away from answering the children, as what is made invisible lets children believe it is bad or wrong (Derman-Sparks & Olsen Edwards, 2010). Enforce what they have learnt and come to understand, regarding topics such as gender and sexualization with follow-up activities for the whole group. Early childhood educators should involve parents in these topics and aid them in the constructive ways that these negative messages could be dealt with in order to empower the families with knowledge regarding these difficult topics.

References

Derman-Sparks, L., & Olsen Edwards, J. (2010). Anti-bias education for young children and ourselves. Washington, D.C.: National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).

Levin, D. E., & Kilbourne, J. (2009). [Introduction] So sexy so soonThe new sexualized   childhood and what parents can do to protect their kids (pp. 1-8). New York: Ballantine       Books. Retrieved from: http://dianeelevin.com/sosexysosoon/introduction.pdf

Park, C. E. (2017, March 5). For many South Koreans, beauty standards represent a cultural struggle. The Varsity [Toronto]. Retrieved from http://thevarsity.ca/2017/03/05/for-many-south-koreans-beauty-standards-represent-a-cultural-struggle/