Saturday, January 23, 2016

Research and children

This week in class we studied the dark side of research. It was amazing how terrible research can be and how deceptive researchers have been at times, just to get their results in.

But as in almost everything, there's a light side of research too. I've shared my opinions of vaccines before, that's what I think of when I consider the good parts of research and children. Because of good research we know what side effects to possibly expect, we also know what vaccines prevent against. I'm sure not all vaccine research has been done in good faith, but because of all of it so many lives have been spared, my daughter's included.

I know of a child who was in a vaccine research study when he was born for the first year or two of life. The child's parent took their temperature on different hourly marks and kept track of all possible symptoms. Everything was safe for the child and their parent, and monitored closely by their pediatrician. I'm thankful for that because as diseases change and mutate we need to have people keeping up with the vaccines, changing them and making them the best for us.

Research is purposeful and we can gain a lot of information from it. But it still needs to be done ethically, honestly, and in good faith, otherwise the results are tainted, and we really don't need any more of that.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Research topic for Early Childhood

This semester has started off with a research competency course in my master's program. It's going to be a tough one for me, I can already tell.

This week we had to narrow down to a subtopic, of our choosing, to build a research simulation project around. With my background in children's ministry and early childhood I decided that I wanted to explore more of the importance of faith in early childhood. I wanted to focus on the effects of a teacher's faith in the classroom setting, but I'm having a hard time comping up with a specific question.

I'm also having a hard time finding research already done in concordance with early childhood and faith. There is a lot out there on faith in other areas but not specifically with early childhood. I think this is in part because people do not give young children enough credit in their understanding of God or spirituality. Personally I think they can understand way more then we think they do.

My subtopic will be, thanks to a suggestion from my professor, "do children who regularly attend church have better behavior reports in school?"

I'm starting to think that there is a void in information being put out about early childhood students and faith topics, even with as many Christian preschools that exist. This may be a good writing topic for me to pursue in the future.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

And that's a wrap

My 4th class is coming to an end this week. I can't believe I've made it this far in my master's program already! By the end of my next semester I'll officially be half way. This has been one of the hardest things I've ever done, and honestly without Keven I would have quit a long time ago, but I have learned so much.

Throughout this last course we were given the chance to learn more about early childhood from a personal international perspective. Three consequences of that experience:

1. I've wanted to be a missionary for a long time, but after these conversations I've started thinking about the possibility of early childhood being something that I could do on an international mission field. It got me thinking about how that is as much of a need oversea's as it is here and how those children need to learn about Jesus too.

2. It broke down this thought process that early childhood standards are only something that the U.S. has. I was surprised to learn that Swaziland has standards for orphanages and I was surprised to learn that South Africa has standards for all of their early childhood schools. This reminds me just how similar we as humans really are.

3. Professionally, I admired the goals set by both Gennie and Penny. They each saw the needs in their own lives and paired that with the needs of the area around them. Right now I feel like my needs are very separate from those around me or in my area, I'd like one day to find a way to merge those together as they did.

One of my goals, moving forward, is to continue to learn about early childhood in other countries. But to learn more about the real people teaching in those trenches every day, to learn what it's really like to teach in those countries and to learn from them, because they are amazing teachers too.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Musicals and Faith

On the eve of my 32nd birthday, I was in my first ever musical. Growing up I had been in concerts, dance recitals, still plays, human videos, and even wrote and directed musicals and plays. But I never sang or acted in one, until now.

This year not only was I up on stage, but so were my 3 kids. All 4 of us had different parts to play, but we did it together. We sang, we danced, our littlest even wore a Sombrero, and we shared the joy of Jesus with the audience.

All of those years of "not singing well enough" or "not having enough dance experience" washed
away. Especially as I saw the joy on my children's faces of doing this together. Even in the midst of our littlest sleeping through the entire performance the first night (yep that was my kid this year), there was still so much joy.

But why did we do it?

Today I had a wonderful opportunity to share on my college roomate, Sarah's blog. She, along with her husband, Josh, and their team are starting a new type of Church: Empty Church. Today I'm sharing over there about sharing your faith with your family.

For me, the musical was part of that. It was an opportunity for them to experience more of Church, to learn more about Jesus hands-on, and to then share that love and joy with others. It was also a wonderful way to do something in Church as a family.  

Saturday, December 12, 2015

International Contacts-Part 3

As our class begins to come to a close, so does my conversation with 2 wonderful ladies, Gennie and Penny, who are doing early childhood education in other countries (Swaziland and South Africa). 

Q1. What issues regarding quality and early childhood professionals are being discussed where you live and work?

Gennie-We have three qualified social workers on our staff that do weekly trainings for the caregivers looking after the children. We also train the caregivers in the course “Growing Kids God’s Way” from Focus on the Family. However we have taken the American and examples and given Swazi examples so it can be more relevant to the women. We have also had counsellors and psychologists do trainings with the caregivers on how to deal with traumatised children. When there are cases that we feel need more in depth counselling we will refer them to a psychologist in Swaziland. 

Penny-Well we have a constant discussion going on about what children should be exposed to academically before the year they turn 7. I - & other Montessori teachers - strongly feel that children from the age of 2 years should be exposed to a very rich environment where reading & maths & their foundations are prevalent. Also Cultural subjects including the study of other countries & customs, food, music etc and biology & the naming of plants correctly etc. However our Government system basically stipulates that none of this including writing should be covered until the year they turn 7. The children are to learn through play and spend a lot of time doing art activities one per day & playing outside or with fantasy inside the classroom. 
Q2. What opportunities and/or requirements for professional development exist?

Gennie- Depending on the role will depend on the requirements. For caregivers we look at how far have they gone in school. If we can see they don’t have a high level of education we put them in specific roles, unlike aunts who can speak and write english well they are more suitable to be in a house with children, to help them with their studies and filling out required paperwork that we ask of them. For those who cannot speak or write English we have offered them English classes in the past. We also develop leaders amongst the caregivers in order to empower them to one day fully run the project. 

Penny-Even private schools are expected to follow this system but we, & other Montessori schools simply "follow the child" and stimulate him/ her according to their readiness to absorb certain things. In using this method I have noted that all children who are not reading & writing by the time they are 5 and a half ( long before they are "supposed to be" ) there is usually some sort of difficulty eg visual or auditory perception and these areas need to be addressed.

Q3. What are some of your professional goals?

Gennie-I personally would like to further study psychology and counselling to help add onto the counselling I’m already doing with the women and children. 

Penny-My professional goals. Next year I am hoping to cut my hours in my school by handing over to a younger lady & concentrating on all the music I do - 3 schools & private piano and guitar lessons in the afternoons.

Q4. What are some of your professional hopes, dreams, and challenges?

Gennie-This type of project comes with many challenges, especially when dealing with traumatised children. My hope is that I train the aunts the best way possible to be able to be able to raise these kids in a way that breaks the cycles of abuse and HIV for the future. 

Penny-My hope is to do some Lecturing of student teachers in the future. Preferable Montessori lecturing - after 27 years of practical experience I believe I have some valuable insight to give to younger teachers or learner teachers.

I enjoyed learning about education in these two other countries from both of them. It made me realize how pluses and minuses in early childhood education can be the same in any country. 

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Sharing Web Resources-Part 3

Part three of the resources found on NAECTE.

This time I was just as frustrated as the first time I went through trying to find new things on the website that I didn't need to be a member for. I found several articles on their Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education on equity and excellence in early childhood but unfortunately was unable to access or read them because I was not a member of their organization.

I did however stumble on a part of their site that posted open job positions. Most of the positions listed were at colleges or universities, although one was a director position for an early childhood center. I found that interesting.

Another part of the site I discovered this time included affiliate links. Most of these affiliate links appeared to be individuals, but they did cover a few different states. These affiliates seem to represent universities or colleges that are outside those who are represented by their board.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

International Contacts-Part 2

To continue the conversation in international contacts in early childhood, I'd like to introduce you to my second contact, Gennie. I met Gennie several years ago at our church. She had grown up there and now was a missionary to Swaziland.

Gennie is a house manager for an orphanage in Swaziland. Currently they have 359 children in their orphan and vulnerable care program. Children range from infants up through early 20's who are in college. 

They are required to have 1 aunty for every 6 children in their care. The Swazi government has standards for Orphan and Vulnerable Care Facilities, which is what their center falls under.

Poverty does effect their nation and area but these children are no longer affected by poverty, as their living at the center. Gennie explained "Many of our children have come from poverty, but we have seen that as they slowly come adjusted to their life here in Bulembu, they forget what it was once like to live that way. One of our focuses the past few years is to remind them where they have come from and the poverty situations that still are around them even if it no longer affects them."

I think it's really interesting that countries having standards for orphanages. I think that's a really good thing because it helps to keep them accountable to good standards while recognizing their importance in that country for childhood care.