It’s unlikely that we could have predicted what our new normal might look like when we entered this decade. The year 2020 has presented each of us with new, different and unique challenges. Our ability to rise to those challenges lives deep within each of us.
While at the Council for Professional Recognition, I have met hundreds of early childhood educators, each of whom brings a unique perspective to educating our youngest generation in early childhood classrooms across the globe. But they all have one thing in common: each has gone the extra mile by earning the Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential™. Now in its 45th year, the CDA is the vital credential with over 800,000 issued to educators around the world. As you take on a new role, you can learn valuable lessons from the CDA. We see time-tested practices employed by early educators every day. I want to share just a few for you to use at home.
1. Establish and keep a routine
In early childhood settings, we know that having a routine is an opportunity for a child to learn life skills, increase content knowledge and build self-esteem. Consider all the things you do in a day. Now think about all the things a child does during the day: handwashing, diapering, toileting, napping and so on. With our youngest children these tasks provide opportunities to begin to gain their independence. Don’t try to rush through these activities; even though they are commonplace to us, they’re new to our children. Allow them, for instance, to practice pumping the soap or setting the table for a meal. Each time a child places one placemat on the table in front of a chair, they are learning one-to-one correspondence.
2. Keep children safe at home
There are many things to think about when it comes to a child’s safety. We’re spending more time than usual with our children at home and some of that time we may be distracted by our own work, so there are extra considerations to think about to prevent accidents and injuries. Check to see that all of your electrical outlets have child-resistant caps; make sure adult purses and tote bags are stored out of children’s reach; and always turn pot handles toward the back of the stove.
3. Manage screen time and technology
Given these uncertain times, screen time can provide some much-needed down time for everyone in the house. We’re all concerned about what too much screen time looks like. A few things to consider: First make sure the content is age-appropriate. Try and focus on educational content, especially for our youngest children. There are many websites that provide this sort of content. In addition to simply watching content, consider a video chat. This is a great way for children to catch up with their friends. You could also enlist a grandparent or another relative to have a daily story time with your child.
4. Use traditional modes for playing
As technology and devices have grown in popularity, some of our more traditional sources of playtime may have fallen by the wayside or be hidden in the closet. Consider bringing out those trusty blocks, for example. Blocks help children learn math skills. As children recreate the world around them, blocks become a stepping-stone to abstract thinking. Children can express feelings and calm themselves through sand and water play. They can also experiment with math skills such as volume and patterns.
5. Keep you and your child healthy
Now more than ever it’s crucial to be safe and teach the value of personal hygiene practices. It’s always worth repeating to our children that they should sneeze and cough into their elbow. Brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes. And it cannot be repeated enough—wash your hands with soapy, warm water for at least 20 seconds. Most children know the “Happy Birthday” song; when you sing it twice, you are done.
As we stand together — maintaining six feet between us — we need to take a deep breath. We’ve been through hard times before and we will come out on the other side of this one, too.