Impacts on Early Emotional Development

I chose the West and Central Africa region to look into on the UNICEF website since I am not very familiar with that area.

According to UNICEF (n.d.) the children in this region are subject to sexual exploitation, abuse, child labor, poverty, HIV/AIDS, and other diseases. Approximately 2 out of 10 children do not survive to see their fifth birthday and if they do they do not end up going to school. Averages of 40% of the children do not go to school because of traditional beliefs or poverty. Children who do attend school programs are not safe from violence and abuse. Civil wars end up separating families and children because they are recruited into armies.

Cities and towns grow so rapidly that social services are unable to keep up with the needs of the families. Child protection has fallen to the families because child protection services are grossly underfunded and mismanaged. These experiences can have negative effects on the children’s emotional well-being and development. We already know that chronic stress negatively impacts child development. Schools in this area are slow in improving education because they are in dangerous places and teachers are under-compensated.

Looking through the UNICEF website I realize how fortunate many countries are especially those that are industrialized and whose actions and resources reflect the rights of children. It is frustrating as an educator to see that because of politics the children’s education is being hampered. As I continue to learn about this region as well as other regions I strongly believe that the education and welfare of the children is a global responsibility. Children cannot control the circumstances that cause their living conditions or lack of resources. They need to see that others care so that a sense of equality can be instilled in them so that they can still strive for the best and understand that we should all be there to help the children.

References:

http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/index.html

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The Sexualization of Early Childhood

Sexualization in early childhood saddens me. It is not something that we should have to deal with at such an early age. Children are exposed to so much adult content in today’s society where bodies are exploited to get what they want. “Girls and boys constantly encounter sexual messages and images that they cannot understand and that can confuse and even frighten them” (Levin & Kilbourne, 2009, p.2). Although it saddens me that we have to deal with this topic at such a young age the fact that we are recognizing that it is a problem makes me hopeful that we can help children learn how to act appropriately by keeping tackling the topic in an informed professional manner.

• Recently my husband and I attended a high school basketball game and at half time the girls came out to dance. They looked cute in their outfits nothing out of the ordinary for dance team/cheerleaders. When they started dance it was like watching a Beyonce video. My husband said he was very uncomfortable watching them. The dancing was very provocative for a family event and the fact that although they are teenagers they are still children. This seems to be the way that children think they need to dance now days.

• When I was teaching preschool I had a little girl who was very mature for her age and very knowledgeable about some adult topics. Her parents were not together and her dad had a new girlfriend. One Monday she comes in after being with her dad for the weekend and usually has a hard time behaving because she is used to getting her way when she is with him. She had on a tank top and a very short jean skirt. I had to help her keep pulling it down so her panties were not showing. At one point I asked her if we could put on the other (extra) clothes that were in her cubby. She told me no because then the boys wouldn’t like her. I was shocked that she said this and was trying to wrap my mind around where she would learn that.

• Our kindergarten class wears uniforms but occasionally they are allowed to dress down and wear “street” clothes. A six year-olds wore leggings and a cute top that hung off her shoulders. While on the playground she started dancing while holding on to a pole which is part of the jungle gym. She has her bottom out and then wraps her leg around the pole and tries to spin. The teacher was shocked at this behavior. When told that it was not appropriate for school and she should not dance like that the little girl tells her but the boys like to watch me and will want to hug and kiss me. The teacher had a difficult conversation with the mom that evening and the mom did not seem shocked or embarrassed but said she would talk to her daughter.

Young children are introduced to so much adult content in today’s society that it is hard not to be surprised by it but yet we are. Girls are made out to be sexual objects who wear tight clothing to show off their curves and make up to make them look older. The focus is on body image and that you have to be thin to be beautiful and liked by the boys. Boys are being taught that girls are sexually objects. Many parents underestimate the power of these influences that are coming from television and music videos and even the songs themselves. We have to try to teach our children differently from what they are seeing on television. Censoring them and denying them the ability to watch television is not the answer but ensuring that you are modeling the behavior you want them to learn and emulate.

References:
Levin, D. E., & Kilbourne, J. (2009). [Introduction]. So sexy so soon: The new sexualized childhood and what parents can do to protect their kids (pp. 1-8). New York: Ballantine Books. Retrieved from:http://dianeelevin.com/sosexysosoon/introduction.pdf

Evaluating Impacts on Professional Practice

An experience that I have had with racism is from within my own family. Prior to my husband and I getting married our oldest son was having a temper tantrum during a family get together. We had a disagreement about what we were going to do with him whether let him get away with it because we were not at home or make him take a nap and accept the fact that he was going to continue to scream. We were at my grandparent’s house and at some point my grandmother said that “they” were not allowed in her home anymore. She said he was not family and colored people don’t know how to act anyways and she wasn’t going to have it in her house. I was upset and did not handle the situation correctly but instead yelled back that they were my family and if they weren’t welcome than neither was I and she wouldn’t have to worry about any of us ever coming back. This of course hurt my father’s feelings and no one could understand why I was so angry about her deciding that my child and his father were not welcome in her home but I would be. We did not talk or see each other for months until the day I we got married. She came to our wedding and welcomed him to the family and things have been totally different since then. I am still confused about the entire situation and sometimes I wonder if she even remembers what she had said but my husband has told me to let it go for the sake of our children.

As educators we play an important role in the way a child socially interacts with others. It is very important for us to be aware of our own actions because we do not want to have a negative impact on their growth social-emotionally or cognitively. Experiencing a negative interaction with any kind of “ism” can be hurtful and therefore affect the way that we interact with a child or their family. Letting it affect the way we interact with a child can have an impact on the social identity they are developing. It is important to remember that children are just that and that they are a product of their environment and therefore will act or speak like they have heard. We as educators need to recognize the difference and help the children develop a different attitude so that they can adapt and overcome any “ism” that they are surrounded by.

Observing Communication

I decided this week my classroom observation that I am required to do on my classrooms would also be my observation for this assignment. It was very convenient to coincide the two observations because it also helped me recognize that my before and after care teacher needs some additional training or to come out of that classroom.

As I am walking into the classroom the teacher does not see or hear me come into the room because of where the entrance is so it is easy for me to stand, observe, and listen without being seen. They are school age children who have been in school all day and have a lot of energy but are being unnecessarily loud. The teacher is screaming across the room for them to be quiet or they are going to sit in silence until their parents come to get them. One of the seven year old boys, who has a history of being disrespectful, yells back “You can’t make me be quiet and I don’t have to listen to you anyways.” Instead of the teacher coming over to him and talking to him she yells back, “Well I’m tired of your crap and you being disrespectful all the time.” He goes to say something else but I cannot let it continue because although they are both wrong, at this moment, she is more wrong than him and as the director I have to intervene.

I call the boy over to me and tell him to have a seat and calm his body down and I will be back to talk in just a minute. He agrees and I walk over to the teacher and before I can say anything she starts crying and telling me how disrespectful they all are and they don’t listen to her….and so forth. At this point I am not interested in all this but as to why she felt it was appropriate to scream back at a seven year old in front of 30 other children instead of calmly talking to him off to the side.

I have learned over the years from working with children and raising four of my own that yelling or screaming back is not going to accomplish anything and the child is definitely not going to respond to you in a positive manner. There is always a calm way to talk to a child and be firm and make them understand that their behavior and conversation needs to change. I asked the teacher where her lesson plan for the afternoon was so I could see what activities she had planned were. She informed me that the director whose position I just took over told her she does not have to do one.

I believe that if children are engaged in activities instead of freely running around the room then they are more likely to behave more respectfully and respond differently to the teacher. She is not engaging with them in any other manner than to yell at them and this is not healthy for the children. They need to have something to look forward to when they come back to the center and have some type of routine so that they know what to expect and what is expected of them.

It is going to be a long week of trying to turn this chaos around and get the children to respect this teacher who they feel does not like them. I welcome any suggestions on activities for school age children who are only at our center for 2 hours in the afternoon.

Creating Affirming Environments

I have had a home child care before so this is something that I have looked at in the past. The important things to remember is that the environment is inviting, child friendly, and functional. Making sure that you have materials that represent the different cultures of the families you are currently caring for as well as ones that you are not is important to creating an anti-bias environment. It is also important to separate the home day care section from your family living. Keeping business and personal space separate is important especially if you have your own children.

Family Child Care Home Elements:

1. A schedule should be posted so that parents have an idea of what their children are going to be doing during the day. I also would have a lesson plan posted so that they know I have taken the time to think ahead and plan and that the children will be learning while they are playing and interacting with one another. Also, encourage the parents to talk to their children about the schedule and point out the activities they will be doing.

2. Learning Centers are also important to have. These centers help parents see and understand that the children will be learning different things and stimulating their minds throughout the day. Basic centers such as practical life, manipulatives, gross motor, science, and art are good to start with.

3. A quiet area to nap is important. It can be within the same area but it needs to be free of constant traffic and noise. Soft, gentle music helps the children relax. I have always liked to play soft jazz for them to listen to. The children should be allowed to bring their favorite blankets and stuffed animals if helps them feel more comfortable.

4. Bringing family photos into the learning environment shows the children their backgrounds are relevant and can be shared in the classroom. It is also comforting to them if they can talk about their families throughout the day by looking at the photos and telling you who everyone is.

5. Books, puzzles, dramatic play props are all resources that should be present and represent a variety of families and cultures. These materials will help build upon an anti-bias curriculum while representing many of the different cultural and family backgrounds that are represented in society today. Children should feel that they are part of the classroom while they are in your care.