Note that this piece was originally posted on the NAEYC Hello website. It is re-published with permission from the author.
I’ve found that many early childhood professionals become nervous when faced with the word “advocate.” But as I tell them in my presentations, it isn’t necessary to be a policy wonk in order to advocate for early childhood education and developmentally appropriate practice. There are a few simple things ECE professionals can do:
- Always refer to yourself as a teacher. It will help put a stop to the idea of ECE professional as “babysitters.”
- Tell your stories! Most people have no idea what’s involved in your day-to-day practice. You can let them know through simple, informal conversation. Share your excitement about the amazing experiences taking place in your classroom and how much it’s teaching the children!
- Invite parents and policymakers to the classroom to witness what developmentally appropriate practice looks like. Or have them take part in two activities involving the same learning goal: one developmentally inappropriate (a worksheet, for example) and one developmentally appropriate (an active learning experience). They’ll see the difference!
For those who do want to delve a bit deeper into advocacy, here’s a great discussion, with representatives from four state AEYC organizations, on the topic: ECE Advocacy 101: You’re Either at the Table or on the Menu – BAM! Radio Network.
Defending the Early Years is an amazing organization, and I’m grateful for all the wonderful work they do! I hope everyone will go on over to their website. Don’t let the word “advocate” stop you!
Rae Pica Keynotes & Consulting