Humanities and Early Childhood Education

Tasia Johnson frm CCNY English 210

            I work for Union Settlement’s Head Start Program at Franklin Plaza. Our organization services low income families with free daycare and also tries and help the parents by offering English second language counseling, assisting in job searches and volunteering. Even though we help the parents with finding jobs and learning another language, a lot of them still consider teachers as just “babysitters”.  There have been times when a parent will disregard when a child brings home a dog made of clay or transitioned from coloring all over the paper to coloring and making a shape. Some parents only want to make sure that there is someone to watch their child for them.

            I, personally, want parents to understand how the arts can help educate preschoolers and that we teachers are not just glorified babysitters. When we explain to a parent that their child worked with Play-Doh, they usually respond saying, “That’s nice” or “Oh, Okay”. As teachers, we try to explain how this act is very important in a child’s development. Since Union Settlement services East Harlem, most of our children have parents who did not go to college and some who have not even gone to high school. Helping their children learn about the arts and introducing them to reading and writing will give them a good “head start” before entering kindergarten. Besides learning colors shapes and numbers, children will learn gross and fine motor skills as well as be open to critical and logical thinking.

            Hopefully our children will enjoy and become excited when it comes to school work and learning due to their experiences in preschool. I have only been there for less than a year but I know that I have a job that is important and worthwhile. I want my parents to understand that every activity that their child does, no matter how big or small, will help their child to become a better student in the long run.

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This entry was posted in CCR exchange: Stanford-CCNY, Fall 2010: Humanities, Identity, and Social Justice. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Humanities and Early Childhood Education

  1. Elizabeth ecker says:

    I find this topic very engaging and it sounds like you have a lot of voice, which is great. You seem very interested and passionated about this topic, so writing the paper will come much more naturally. I think you should definitely provide research as to how the arts influence childhood development. Specific data would help the reader understand how exactly this idea takes effect. Concrete evidence will help prove your last claim that every activity will help the child become a better student. Anecdotes are beneficial, however avoid being too vague and make sure you are specific with substantiated claims.

  2. ccrvisitor says:

    Very interesting topic. To elaborate on what Elizabeth stated, maybe provide some success stories or why and how working with children in this manner has helped preschoolers, what methods and so on (empirical evidence).

    Josh Schott

  3. Isabella Sanchez says:

    I think this is a very interesting topic. It especially interests me because I have recently been exposed to the importance of the arts in early childhood development, especially for those children in low-income families, through the program Jumpstart. Jumpstart’s aim is to help prepare low-income preschoolers for Kindergarden by engaging them in the arts, and thereby attempting to give them equal opportunities, in order to level them off with other children who might have had more exposure to the arts due to their higher socio-economic status. Perhaps statistical information about the success of the Jumpstart program could be used as evidence to substantiate your claims that exposure to the arts will help children become better students in the long run.

  4. ccrvisitor says:

    First of all, I just want to say, “Rock on!” You are doing a great service for these children and for the community.

    For the essay, I agree that you should try to find some statistics about early childhood development. I also think it could be interesting if you also examined the other side of the issue: why are these parents so ambivalent regarding their own children’s development? It seems that there is a vicious cycle in which parents who don’t care about their children’s development raise children who don’t care about their children’s development either. Programs like yours provide a way to break this cycle.

    Robin Jia

  5. Kylie Rosenstock says:

    Besides including studies about the connection between the arts and childhood development, I think you might also want to look into social psychologists’ (such as Erik Erikson) opinion of the relationship. This could give some authority to your findings. I also think that Robin’s idea about parents’ role in the issue would be an interesting issue to explore and would complicate your paper in a great way.

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