Early Education = Healthy Children
In the winter months, I was working out at my local fitness center at a spot by the window. I noticed a few preschool-aged children coming around the corner by the playground. It was winter and in Minnesota, which is synonymous for cold, ice and snow, so it captured my attention that a band of marching children was parading from the street and not the parking lot. Who would be walking with their young children on such a cold day? As I watched, an adult rounded the corner…then more children. I counted 10 children and was just starting to become upset about the ratio when I saw three more adults turn the corner, and the confluence of marching bodies kept coming. As I watched, more children, adults and even a dog joined in the parade. I was captivated by the number of bundled up children and adults; and truly surprised that the adults were taking the children out on a walk on such a cold day!
Then, around the corner came two children carrying a banner. I wish you could have seen how proud and tall those children were walking! They had THE BANNER! They were about in the middle of the 50 or so participants, and their banner informed me that I was not watching a walk or a parade, but a demonstration. As I watched the line get closer to my window, I studied the banner trying to make out the words. Finally, it was close enough to read. It read:
“Child Care Awareness! Early Education = Healthy Children!”
Child care awareness? Have you ever heard of that movement? Neither have I, until then. But this group of parents, educators and children were proudly marching for this cause on that cold winter’s day.
As I watched the march disappear into the building beneath me, I pondered the idea of early care, education and activism. Why did the adults feel the need to create this demonstration? Who needs “child care awareness” and why?
I watched as the children passed the banner back across the line of children, and noticed that as each new pair that carried it stood a bit taller with pride and unbinding self-esteem. I noted that this activity was an excellent physical education exercise and exposure to nature. But I just kept wondering: why the cause? Why not just go out and play? Why not sign up to join in some other march, like a childhood cancer or diabetes walk?
And that is when it struck me: This was more developmentally appropriate for the children. As Early Childhood educators we all know is that we need to preach the importance of our work with the world. These teachers and parents had created a moving and appropriate opportunity for the children to engage in what each Early Childhood Educator (ECE) must engage in constantly: Awareness Education. This band of marchers chose an exceedingly ordinary audience…The workers and regular people of that particular block in the middle of the morning of that ordinary day. Their choice of day, location and time was, I am sure, partially informed by the approaching lunch time and napping hour, but also served to highlight for me a really important aspect of advocating for children and their care: We must not stop. We need to remember that it is the ordinary folks who need to remember that we are there – that all 50 of those children are being cared for while their parents go out and do the work of the world every day, and that is IMPORTANT.
There are so many good examples in the world of studies that prove that ECE professionals make a difference in the lives of young children, but how often do we really stop and remember that it is up to each teacher, parent and education professional to carry out to their everyday world our message:
CHILDCARE AWARENESS! Early education = Healthy children!