Why Early Childhood Educators Are the Engines for Learning

September 23, 2020

Published by Education and Career News on September 23, 2020

Written by Calvin E. Moore, Jr., Ph.D.

Patty Berron is an early childhood educator in Texas and COVID-19 has created tremendous disruptions for her this year, as it has for all of us.

One thing that has been consistent for Patty and the 800,000 early childhood educators in her league around the world are the skills and confidences they’ve demonstrated during these tough times because they hold a Child Development Associate certificate (CDA).

“More than ever, it’s been essential to put our profession’s competency standards into practice that I learned through the CDA process. Educating to these standards helps children move with success from one developmental stage to another,” Patty said. “I’ve had to stay updated about health and safety procedures. I’ve also had to be creative about using games, songs and children’s imaginations to encourage everyone to wear face masks and regularly wash hands — it hasn’t been easy!”

A valuable certificate

I know the CDA’s value because I earned one myself nearly three decades ago and it made me a better teacher. Now, I lead the nonprofit that administers and issues CDAs. Our focus includes encouraging those looking to make a job change to consider early education, including men wanting to switch careers. We also continue our effort to show all child care providers that they are valued professionals who deserve salary increases and job security.

Patty shared another story with me. She once had a 3-year-old named Julio in her class who had always been under his grandmother´s care and was nervous to stay at the center.

Patty’s training led her to look for clues about how to engage Julio. She noticed he was interested in cars and trucks because his dad was a mechanic. So Patty quickly put together a model toy car for Julio to engage with in his own area of the classroom.

She then pretended her toy car broke down and asked him to fix it. Julio went to work and made the little car speed along again, just like his dad does in real life. This creativity and interaction gave Julio the confidence he needed to feel comfortable at the center, where he’s excelled at learning and making friends.

This is the kind of caring and insightful activity that occurs every day at child care centers, in home settings, and with visits from trained home visitors. It’s also the type of thing we need even more of as we work to make up for the learning losses that have occurred this year because of closures and reduced class sizes. Thankfully, we know our CDAs and all child care providers are up to the task.

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