Did you know that the brain is the most immature organ in the body of a newborn? While it may seem as if a baby does little more than eat, cry and sleep, the facts couldn’t be further from the truth. Important growth and development take place during early childhood, especially within the brain.
The National Center for Infants, Toddlers and Families – a nonprofit organization that supports parents and childcare professionals – offers a wide range of resources on the Zero to Three website.
In an online publication titled “Starting Smart“, the center offers details of early brain development.
The publication explains how a newborn’s environment and relationships stimulate connections (called synapses) between neurons in the brain. The network of synapses established in the brain during the first five years of life provides the foundation for a child’s subsequent abilities throughout life. Parental and caregiver knowledge is vital to providing optimal experiences that promote healthy growth in the bodies and minds of all children.
The more one knows about child development, the more one understands the importance of proper care during childhood. An active interest in the topic can lead to a rewarding career in early childhood education. Alicia Williams, chair of the Early Childhood Education (ECE) department at Brown Mackie College – Atlanta offers insight into the many directions one can follow in this field.
“Childcare workers are educators,” Williams says. “I don’t like the term ‘daycare’ because many people associate it with babysitting. We are child advocates, educating through the power to inspire.”
Shelley Bosko, an ECE instructor at Brown Mackie College – Cincinnati joins Williams in revealing the varied directions one can pursue with an ECE degree. “Working at an early education center is an obvious option,” says Bosko. “Opening and running your own facility is another way to contribute to the well-being of children.”
Choosing to work in the field of early childhood education does not mean choosing a life of working only with children. Workers interact daily with parents and daycare facility or school administrators. “Adult education offers another direction,” says Bosko. “Many organizations and communities offer parenting classes and need qualified instructors.”
In addition to adult education, teaching offers many different career opportunities, including pre-school teacher, kindergarten teacher, special education teacher, teaching assistant, and substitute teacher.
“Early childhood education and elementary education go hand in hand,” Williams says. The National Child Care Information and Technical Assistance Center (NCCIC) supports this idea. It offers comprehensive information services about early and school-age care, including an overview of child development and early care and education.
Those who work in the field tend to love what they do. “We’re here because we’re passionate. It’s not for the pay,” says Williams. “It’s the highlight of my day when a student comes back 20 years later and says, ‘Because of you, I am where I am today.’ It warms your heart as a teacher. The time spent together meant something. I do believe teachers are the heart of education.”
“Some days in this field don’t go as planned,” says Bosko. “However, there are more rewards than tough times. Making a difference in another person’s life gives you a special kind of satisfaction.”