Parents of young children are having a tough year. We are expected to work, be our children’s teachers, keep them safe, handle day-to-day tasks… and just deal with it. There aren’t enough hours in a day for us to do everything, and we’re having to prioritize and choose what we can do well each day. Something has to give. Every week or so there is an article about how this situation is unsustainable, how we’re failing our children, and how the economy won’t restart unless children go back to school.

It’s natural to feel overwhelmed right now. This is a “once-in-a-lifetime” situation that’s hitting parents especially hard. But what if we’re worrying unnecessarily about our children’s development? What if “homeschooling” our kids is actually what’s best for them? If there’s any argument for remote schooling, that argument is strongest in early childhood education (ECE). Science has shown that for young children to have the best shot at a healthy development they need, 1) a safe, play-filled environment and 2) meaningful interactions with the adults in their lives. Odds are that both of these needs are met at home. 

There are definitely challenges to homeschooling, but if there’s any silver lining to this year, it’s that we’ve learned what we’re capable of as parents. We’ve taken on one of the hardest things we’ll ever do —raise a child– and we’ve done it in the middle of a pandemic.

I hope this year can be an opportunity to rethink early childhood education and how we fit in as parents. We want to give our children the best start to life —what if that meant for us being their teachers all along?

Transforming parents into educators 

Now is the time to rethink the place of early childhood education at home and find practical solutions for families with young children who want to support their kids’ development but don’t know how.

If we equip parents to lead their child’s ECE experience, then how can we ensure that they have the time to spend quality time with their children? 

In most of the world, both parents have jobs, and in many cases, multiple ones. Parents need to continue being productive members of society. One solution could be to provide caregiver-subsidy to those who choose to stay home (whether that’s mom, dad, or a grandparent) to care for their children as a way to supplement their income, as well as temporary leave from their jobs without punishment from their employers. A stipend could also help parents ensure their home environment has adequate nutrition, space, and stimuli to support learning and play. 

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How can we make sure that they have the knowledge and ideas to kindle playtime as a vessel for child learning? 

Most parents don’t know what to do with their children; they aren’t trained in pedagogy and learning techniques and may become overwhelmed by the frustrations that emerge from multiple hours of lesson planning and delivery. At kinedu, we support parents and educators with tools that provide them with actionable knowledge and practical playtime ideas. We also allow parents to invite caregivers to their account so that they can go back to work and ensure their children have the right learn-through-play experiences. 

Equipping early childhood educators for remote care

Preschool and daycare educators are, for the most part, out of work (for now). According to the National Association for the Education of Young Children and Early Care & Education Consortium, childcare programs around the country lost nearly 70% of their daily attendance in one week during the pandemic. If we want daycare centers to survive, we have to think outside the box. We have to blur the line between school and home.

How can we train, empower, and equip educators so that they become ECE guides to parents?

Many educational institutions are transforming the way they teach to include remote lessons. But any parent of children under five will tell you stories about the limitations of synchronous, remote learning. However, we may be underestimating how teachers guiding parents (through asynchronous content) could work wonders. Kinedu supports educators in becoming remote guides for families helping them plan activities and hosting a library of content, created by experts in early childhood, that educators can complement with their own ideas. This way, educators pre-select activities for families without having to facilitate activities through a screen. 

How can we ensure that ECE resources are available to those who need it most?

Subsidizing home-based childcare would be a long overdue effort to support low-income communities. Many children of low-income families already receive care from neighbors, family members, or in unlicensed group care settings that offer nighttime care, bilingual instruction, etc. Offering a subsidy would allow families to continue working while easing the burden of paying for childcare.

Re-thinking Early Childhood Education

We have the opportunity to re-shape the ECE landscape. Even before the pandemic, 85% of children were at home or in some sort of informal care setting, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Today, thankfully, we have the attention of policymakers, innovators, educators, and parents. This crisis shows just how valuable and necessary early childhood education is. Instead of plowing billions of dollars in building infrastructure and centers that end up as white elephants, lets invest in generating communities of parents and educators that support each other in delivering high-quality care and early learning to society’s most important members: our young children.

REFERENCES

Read the full article on Medium: https://medium.com/@luisgza/early-childhood-education-at-home-is-a-good-thing-why-are-we-saying-its-not-9daa7065e8e8