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Is Teacher Education Failing Our Early Childhood Care Providers?

Posted by on in Early Childhood
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NAEYC’s vision for our profession is one that “exemplifies excellence and is recognized as vital and performing a critical role in society” (NAEYC, 2015). In order to fulfill that vision, we need to make darn sure those in this profession obtain quality and appropriate training.

Unfortunately, this is not always the case. This is especially true now that online training seems to have exploded. In the push to hire or to become employable, expediency and low cost often take priority when weighing training options. Care providers can easily Google and find Early Childhood courses online from just about anybody. If you haven’t tried this lately, it’s really pretty disturbing. There are training programs that are totally self-directed, with a quiz at the end of each module, requiring only an 80% to move forward. One can conceivably go through an entire course of study in an evening and print off certificates indicating mastery in a whole list of areas. Mastery?

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Early Childhood educators deserve more than this. More importantly, young children certainly do. When a parent entrusts his precious child into someone’s care, that care should encompass a keen awareness of proper health and safety practices, child development, curriculum, appropriate guidance techniques, and how to promote relationships with families.

This is not possible when a training module consists of several slides of generalized and summarized information… training that promises that all you need can be learned in three months.

Then, there are the promotional videos. Take a deep breath before watching these, that’s for sure. My favorite is the one with two young ladies touting their CDA training program that students can “easily finish in six weeks.” They appear to be sitting in a bedroom, one wearing a jacket and ball cap, the other in an unflattering T-shirt. Professionalism?

I guess I have reached my limit today with this type of inferior training because of a headline I am looking at that reads, “Two Charged in Infant’s Day Care Death.” I could have turned the paper over and moved on with my day, but that’s not me.

Apparently, in this child care center, an eleven-month-old child was among thirty-five others left in the care of one provider, in several different rooms. This child had been strapped in a car seat. The article explained that the issue here was that the caregiver failed to buckle the harness between the child’s legs.


No. Failing to correctly buckle the child into a car seat is not the issue here. The issue here is ineffective, inferior training. A properly trained care provider would know it is not safe to place a child in a car seat unless riding in a car. And, she would not have participated in such an out of whack ratio situation that jeopardized all of the children.

Rhian Evans Allvin said, “I believe our time has come and that it is up to all of us in the Early Childhood field to exhibit the courage and leadership it will take to attract and retain the most effective educators.”

How much courage and leadership can all of us muster to assure quality training for every individual who cares for children? I say the time has come to step up.

Child Climbing Steps1

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Debra Pierce is professor of Early Childhood Education at Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana. Ivy Tech is the nation's largest singly accredited statewide community college systems, serving nearly 200,000 students annually.

Her professional background has always involved children, over the past 40 years, having been a primary grades teacher in the Chicago Public School system, a teacher of 3 and 4 year-olds in a NAEYC accredited preschool for 15 years, and a certified Parent Educator for the National Parents as Teachers Program.

Debra is a certified Professional Development Specialist for the Council for Professional Recognition. She has taught CDA courses to high school career/tech dual credit juniors and seniors in preparation for earning their CDA credentials. She also conducts CDA train-the-trainer events across the country and develops and teaches online CDA courses for several states, is a frequent presenter at national and state early childhood conferences, and is a Master Trainer for the states of Minnesota and Arizona. She was also awarded the NISOD Teaching Excellence Award by the University of Texas.

Debra is active in her community, supporting children's literacy and is on the board of directors of First Book in Indianapolis. Debra is a contributing author for Hamilton County Family Magazine and Indy's Child in Indianapolis.
She loves spending time with her two grandsons, Indy, who is 7 and Radley, 3.

Debra has spent the last 16 years dedicated to the success of those pursuing the CDA credential and is the author of The CDA Prep Guide: The Complete Review Manual for the Child Development Associate Credential, now in its third edition (Redleaf Press), the only publication of its kind. She hosts a website providing help and support to CDA candidates and those who train them at http://www.easycda.com
The comments and views expressed are not in collaboration or affiliation with The Council for Professional Recognition or Ivy Tech Community College.
Follow me on Twitter at /easycda

  • Guest
    sally swiatek Tuesday, 23 August 2016

    I couldn't agree more with this posting on Teacher Education failing our ECE providers! And Thank you! Online training FOR ECE practitioners fails to allow emerging teachers the deep exploration of the MANY wonderful ways to honor children. It also fails to demonstrate how adult-students can be flexible to the ideas and interests of the CHILDREN and to support development from the child's perspective. This can only be achieved by observing, interacting and then creating those environments. Honoring the PROCESS is not just just for early learners but for ALL learners!

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