Families and Early Childhood
Early childhood professionals agree that a good way to meet the needs of children is through their families, whatever the family units may be. As families change, early childhood professionals have to develop new and different ways of meeting parents’ and children’s needs. Providing for children’s needs through and within the family system makes sense for a number of reasons:
- The family system has the primary responsibility for meeting many children’s needs. Parents are children’s first teachers, and the experience and guidance they do or do not provide shapes their children for life. It is in the family that basic values, literacy skills, and approaches to learning are set and reinforced. This is why it is important to work with families and help them get a good start on parenting.
- Teachers frequently need to address family problems and issues before they can help children effectively. For example, working with family services agencies to help parents access adequate, affordable health care means that the whole family, including children, will be healthier.
- Early childhood professionals can work with children and their families and benefit both. Family literacy is a good example. Helping children, their parents, and other family members learn to read and write helps the whole family. For example, the Texas Even Start Family Literacy Program provides literacy training for parents of families with newborns and children through age seven and assists families with parenting strategies in child growth and development.6
Families matter in the education and development of children. Working with parents becomes a win–win proposition for everyone. You are the key to making family-centered education work.
An increasing percentage of mothers with children are currently employed. In 2004, nearly 57 percent of mothers with children under age six and 73 percent of mothers with children ages six to seventeen were in the workforce.7 This creates a greater demand for early childhood programs. Unfortunately, much of child care in the United States is of poor quality. One of your professional responsibilities is to partner with parents to raise the quality of child care and to make it affordable and accessible.
© ______ 2008, Merrill, an imprint of Pearson Education Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The reproduction, duplication, or distribution of this material by any means including but not limited to email and blogs is strictly prohibited without the explicit permission of the publisher.
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