Becoming an Early Childhood Advocate


by Rae Pica

​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:

  1. Always refer to yourself as a teacher. It will help put a stop to the idea of ECE professional as “babysitters.”
  2. 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!
  3. 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
Rae Pica Keynotes & Consulting
Alexandria VA