Guest post by Kris Jenkins, @PreK33
Myth 1: “It’s Only Babysitting”
Ugh… Did you know that ninety percent of a child’s brain development occurs between birth and five years of age? That’s right! NINETY PERCENT! Holy cow! That means that in every moment a child is awake, it’s a learning opportunity,Early childhood learning is divided into five primary domains. Those are: social, emotional, physical, communication, and cognitive, or thinking on their own. All of these things, along with a child’s health and safety, are things that every early childhood educator must keep in mind on a daily basis. Most all early childhood educators that I know, get into this profession because they absolutely love children!
Myth 2: “All you do is play all day.”
The great Fred Rogers said, “Play give children a way to practice what they are learning.” Play allows children to use their creativity while developing their imaginations, dexterity, and physical, cognitive, and emotional strength. Play is important to healthy brain development. Through play, children learn how to interact with the world around them. Children cannot do this through screen time. Screen time is not true interaction or playing. Play needs to include some form of physicality, whether that is fine motor or gross motor.
Myth 3: “Anyone Can Be a Preschool Teacher”
To teach public school preschool in Kansas, the teacher must have Early Childhood Certification. In my own educational experience, I graduated with a double major in Elementary Education and Early Childhood Development, with a minor in Music Education. I then went back to school and got a masters degree in Education. Teachers are constantly taking workshops and classes in order to keep current with educational trends and how best to serve the ever-changing needs of their students and their families.
Myth 4: “Parents Don’t Need to Be Involved in Preschool”
Say what?!? Families are entrusting their child’s teacher with the best of them, their children! Families know those children better than any teacher could ever hope to. It is vitally important to the child’s education that their families ARE involved. Teachers and parents need to work in tandem to help each child be successful in school. Right now, with the pandemic, it’s hard for parents to be involved. Many schools are keeping parents out in an effort to curb the spread of the virus to the school population. You can still keep parents in the loop though texting, a variety of apps, newsletters, social media, and a good, old-fashioned phone call.
Myth 5: “Surely Preschool Teachers Are Paid Well”
The average annual cost, per child, for child care in the United States is $8,300 a year. In the program where I work, most of that funding is through a grant from the state. The yearly enrollment fee, per child, for our program is $65…for a year! This goes to offset the cost supplies for learning activities.
The reality is that preschool teachers are amongst the most undervalued professional out there, ranked even lower than janitors. Yet these teachers are tasked with providing learning opportunities for our most valuable natural resource–our children. I’m lucky. I do not work in a private preschool setting, although I have. Because I work in a school district, I am paid like all other teachers, based on education and experience. Still, teachers fresh out of college, with student loans to pay, can barely make it on a starting teacher’s salary. This leads to many truly amazing teachers leaving the profession, even though they love children. It’s a sad commentary.
Several years ago, when a parent said to me, “It’s only preschool,” I’m not sure they expected the “education” they got, but that kiddo never missed another day of school that year!