WASHINGTON, DC — Early childhood educators have twin goals as their centers begin to reopen; they must focus on health and safety while also finding creative ways to engage young learners. These are the major findings from the advisory committee of educators who hold the Child Development Associate® Credential (CDA), administered by the Council for Professional Recognition. The Council has issued over 800,000 CDAs to child care providers; the credential is a key stepping stone for career advancement in early childhood education.
Child care providers had to reduce their student size or close classrooms as a result of the COVID-19 health measures. As states and local communities begin to lift restrictions, the Council convened a committee to explore the new challenges.
The Council’s CEO, Dr. Calvin Moore Jr., holds a CDA himself. “CDAs know how to nurture the emotional, physical, intellectual and social development of children. These historic challenges mean we must quickly react to circumstances. I’m grateful to the advisory committee for sharing their practical, on-the-ground strategies and advice that will safely smooth the transition for early childhood educators, children and parents.”
Most of all, the committee highlighted that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines should be consulted: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/index.html. Child care providers should also regularly check state and local government websites for specific details.
The committee suggested that providers meet virtually with parents and children before reopening—perhaps separately with the children—to answer questions and explain new procedures.
It’s recommended that child care providers meet parents at the front door and check temperatures of all children. Providers should also ask parents if the child has COVID-19 symptoms or has been exposed to anyone at home with COVID-19.
If parents choose not to comply with health guidelines, the committee believes the early childhood center should feel confident asking parents not to have their child/children attend for the good of the community.
Games, Songs and Creative Ideas Make Physical Distancing Fun
The CDA process encourages making learning fun and engaging, and that spirit continues during this time of physical distancing.
The advisory committee suggested that turning the new rules into a game will help to prevent children from becoming frustrated with constant reminders to follow the guidelines. The use of dolls to demonstrate how to wear a mask is an effective way to convey the importance of wearing it correctly. Providers can teach children ways to express themselves with a mask; they can use expressive eyes with a wink or raised eyebrow.
CDAs also said it’s good to create new lyrics for familiar songs, such as Old MacDonald (“I protect you wearing my mask, Ee i ee i o. You protect me wearing your mask, Ee i ee i o”).
Children may be accustomed to hugs, but they are no longer appropriate in the classroom. Providers can teach children to air hug, hug a teddy bear or hug themselves.
The full set of findings from the advisory committee is at www.cdacouncil.org/cda-advisory-committee. A downloadable and Spanish version are available.
The members of the committee are:
- Patty Berron, Mission, Texas: CDA for 29 years at an early childhood education center
- April Bramble, Ellenwood, Georgia: CDA for two years at a center
- Keisha McClendon, Atlanta, Georgia: Professional Development Specialist, held a CDA for seven years, and currently works at a Head Start center
- Charvella McKaye, Columbus, Ohio: Assistant Professor, Early Childhood Development and Education, Columbus State Community College
- Jenny Sanchez, Miami, Florida: CDA for 25 years at a preschool center