“Each and every child, beginning at birth, has the opportunity to benefit from high-quality early childhood education, delivered by an effective, diverse, well-prepared, and well-compensated workforce”—Power to the Profession Vision Statement, NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children)
Today’s children live in an increasingly diverse world that is dynamic and changing . . . minute by minute. What remains constant in the minds of people who make the profession of early education a part of their world is that the work involves learning about yourself as much as it does learning about the field of early learning and the children and families we serve.
The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) is an organization that guides the work that we do each day. NAEYC’s Power to the Profession initiative is a framework to unify the field. Pieces of the framework have guided this textbook, and to that end the authors would like to share common terminology used through the text that supported our efforts and give context to the book.
Early childhood is defined as the period of life that includes pre-birth through age 8. The field is referred to as early childhood education and encompasses education and care provided in all types of settings for children birth to age 8. Within this context, each state’s unique and complex systems exist, and the focus of this text is based in Washington State policies.
Education is defined as a series of learning experiences with related and age-appropriate assessments of learning within a program. Programs may be called childcare centers, preschools, child development centers or family childcare centers. Programs might also include components of parent education or home visiting. Settings in a home environment in Washington State are referred to as Friends, Families and Neighbors (FFN) and programs for children ages 5 to 8 include kindergarten as well as primary grades and can be found in publicly funded or privately funded settings. Probably the most important common term throughout this text will be the use of the word teacher “because it is the broadest term, it captures most of the job responsibilities, commands society’s respect, and is, after all, what children usually call the adults who care for and educate them no matter what the setting” (Bredekamp, 2011, pg. 21)
Welcome to this journey. It is a beautiful and fulfilling one.