Equity has always been the Council’s battle cry, and it rings loudly in the forthcoming Essentials for Working with Young Children, Third Edition. Recent events have led the Council to be even more committed to building social justice in the early childhood classroom as a response to broad social ills. In the past few years, there’s been a rise in racial and ethnic tensions, pointing to the need to teach tolerance when young minds are most open. Equally pressing is the shortage of early childhood teachers, a persistent issue that took the spotlight during the pandemic. The gap between supply and demand is especially glaring in low-income communities and those of color—precisely the ones that suffered the greatest losses from the pandemic.
All this fueled public support for a fairer, more balanced system. So, we seized the moment to work with the Children’s Equity Project and embed equity throughout our new edition of Essentials, from the type of books we recommend to techniques for settling conflicts and talking to families. We’ve honed our focus on how teachers can use the microcosm of the classroom to make a macro impact by giving children a sense of social justice when they are still small.
That’s also a prime time for children to learn to value differences among their peers in our increasingly diverse classrooms. So, Essentials now includes a new section on cultural capital. We urge teachers to view young children through a strengths-based lens and recognize the cultural richness they contribute. In today’s multicultural classrooms, children also have a wide range of attitudes toward eating, sleeping, playing and more. So, Essentials now offers new tips on how to help young learners rejoice in what joins them and respect what sets them apart.
But our new spotlight on equity won’t take away from what you’ve come to expect from Essentials. We’re still conveying the latest research, tips and tools for helping young learners advance. You’ll still get step-by-step instructions on achieving our time-tested Competency Standards: establishing a safe, healthy learning environment; advancing physical and cognitive progress; supporting social and emotional growth; building relationships with families; ensuring a well-run, purposeful program and maintaining a commitment to professionalism. And you’ll come away from reading our updated text with the competence and confidence you need to bring out the best in all young children. The Council knows that skilled, highly qualified teachers play an essential role as we strive to reach equity in early learning nationwide.