by Peggy Haack, WECA Outreach Coordinator
Have you seen the internationally acclaimed Reggio Emilia traveling exhibit, The Wonder of Learning, yet? It’s in Madison at the Central Library and the Overture Center for the Arts until May 1, 2019. You don’t want to miss it! And it’s FREE. The exhibit has been described as “a catalyst for far-reaching change in how societies value early learning as a tool for making the world a better place.” To me, this sounds like our purpose.
If you want to explore the wonder of it all with friends, I invite you to one of our remaining “Days of Exploration.” This is an opportunity to experience the exhibit with other professionals and engage in facilitated discussion about what you see… what you think… what makes you wonder… what would you like to try with the children in your care. Sign up and join us for 3 hours of Registry credit on March 30 or April 27.
Pictured here are the conveners of the first of three Days of Exploration, an event co-sponsored by Wisconsin Family Child Care Association, Satellite Family Child Care, and WECA: Janell Moran, Leah Zastoupil, Peggy Haack, Emily Hefko, Brandee Crabb, and Amy Christiansen.
If you can’t make one of these days, here are some other ways to incorporate the exhibit into your professional development plans:
- Stop by the beautiful Youth Services Room of the Central Public Library, 201 W. Mifflin Street, Madison and take the FREE self-guided tour. Check in with the librarian to get the Study Guide. Don’t forget that a portion of the exhibit – a very cool portion – is next door at the Overture Center in the Playhouse Gallery. Ask a librarian if you need directions. After viewing the exhibit, you can receive 1.5 hours of Registry credit on your own by responding to several reflective questions online. More information on how to do this is at the library.
- Gather some friends and make it an adult Field Trip to downtown Madison! You can make a whole day of it by also visiting the near-by Children’s Museum and/or the State Capitol. If you come during Week of the Young Child (April 8-12) there will be a children’s art show in the Capitol in collaboration with Wonder of Learning called “Opening Doors to Early Learning.”
- Can’t get to Madison, but want to know more about the Reggio Emilia approach? Try a new online workshop: An Introduction to Reggio Emilia, approved by the Wisconsin Registry for 3 hours of Registry credit. To register, visit https://kodo.learnupon.com and search “Reggio Emilia”. No prior experience with Reggio-inspired practices is necessary. There is a $35 fee for this course.
In support of child care providers throughout Wisconsin, WECA Board member Dr. Dipesh Navsaria recently submitted testimony to the Wisconsin Legislature. Under review was Assembly Bill 698 – legislation proposing a new protocol in how child care providers manage the sleep needs of infants and toddlers.
Simply put, it is WECA’s position that a child’s individual needs must always be addressed with competence and good judgment. Good communication between parents and providers must be ongoing. Therefore, we feel it unnecessary to legislate a practice (determining a child’s sleep needs) that is by definition changeable, even on a daily basis.
Read Dr. Navsaria’s full testimony here:
As a practicing pediatrician and a board member of the Wisconsin Early Childhood Association, I am opposed to AB 698. While on the face of it the bill may seem reasonable, but the fact remains that with young children, the assessment and experience of a child care provider to determine the rest and sleep needs of a child in their charge is key.
This bill essentially takes away the partnership and trust between a parent and child care provider by allowing for a blanket instruction to override the experience and judgment which needs to be applied in any individual situation. Young children vary greatly, sometimes even from day to day. By this bill, a child care provider who feels that a child may need rest due to a minor illness or other condition would potentially be left in a position where their best judgment would be overridden by written instructions.
WECA has always supported child care providers attentively listening to and responding appropriately to parental needs and views. We hope that any concerns or guidelines around any aspect of child behavior and care (including sleep) would be part of a flexible and trusting relationship, with ongoing communication between the parent and child care provider, not reduced to legislatively-imposed fiats that run the risk of not serving the best interests of the child.
In an October 26th New York Times Op-ed titled, “Do We Invest in Preschools or Prisons?”, Nicholas Kristof shares that early education is one of those rare initiatives that polls well across the political spectrum.
Kristof writes that 84% of Democrats and 60% of Republicans support some type of national early education initiative according to recent polling.
Touting evidence from a new study from Stanford University that the achievement gap begins as early as 18 months, Kristof makes the case for a national early education initiative.
Kristof ends the op-ed giving us a choice: Preschools or prisons?
Look, we’ll have to confront the pathologies of poverty at some point. We can deal with them cheaply at the front end, in infancy. Or we can wait and jail a troubled adolescent at the tail end. To some extent, we face a choice between investing in preschools or in prisons.
Read the New York Times op-ed “Do We Invest in Preschools or Prisons?” >>
The Partnership for Wisconsin’s Economic Success (PWES) recently urged Wisconsin policymakers to repair the declining funding in the Wisconsin Shares child care subsidy program by significantly increasing the payment rates.
In a letter sent to the Wisconsin Joint Committee on Finance, PWES writes, “We are concerned that the decrease of Wisconsin Shares payments has made it difficult for child care providers to maintain and improve the quality of their programs and impedes their efforts to move up the YoungStar quality scale. Declining Wisconsin Shares payment rates are undermining the very goals of YoungStar.”
Given that the Wisconsin Shares rates have been frozen for seven years, PWES believes that, “Shifting $35 million of federal funds intended to help low-income children and families to other purposes may seem prudent in the middle of current budget deliberations, but it seems a poor choice when that money could be helping our most vulnerable children learn and progress.”
To read PWES’s full letter sent to the Joint Committee on Finance, click here.
PWES was formed in 2008 and is the first state chapter of the Partnership for America’s Economic Success, now named Ready Nation. PWES is a network of business and non-profit leaders interested in the development of young children, both for their individual benefit and for the long-term economic development of the State of Wisconsin.
Ruth Schmidt, WECA’s Executive Director, was on Wisconsin Public Radio this morning to discuss the importance of investing in early education in Governor Walker’s upcoming budget. Listen here: http://news.wpr.org/post/pre-k-advocates-want-more-early-education-funding-walker-budget
May 1st is recognized each year as National Early Educator Worthy Wage Day. On this day, early childhood professionals- and the organizations that support them- work together to inform the public about the importance of high quality early education. Despite the critical role they play in children’s lives, the early childhood workforce continues to be compensated poorly (the average professional earned around $23,600 in 2010). Join us today (and every day) in honoring the early education professionals and programs in your community.
WECA would like to send a heartfelt acknowledgment for the “worthy work” performed every day by early childhood educators working with children and families in child care centers, preschools, Head Start facilities, and family child care homes throughout Wisconsin.