Home, School, and Community Assignment 8
Welcome to Lesson 8!
This is your last lesson for this course. I appreciate that you have worked hard to get this far, and you deserve credit for sticking with your lessons. Congratulations!
In this last lesson, we will focus on the variety of community resources that are available to support not only child care programs, but also families as well. We will also emphasize social policy issues as they relate to special education, health services, and economic development.
The textbook explains how important it is for families to connect with the outside world. When families create social connections, they are able to receive assistance as well as provide assistance to others. When a person is able to give back to others, it creates an even stronger sense of self-worth and pride. However, many families believe that creating social connections or receiving outside services is a sign of weakness and helplessness. When a family reacts to this negative perception it can emphasize feelings of isolation. Isolation has several negative impacts on the family, but more specifically on the child. When a family is isolated it can create feelings of hopelessness, limit the number of role models, and can even lead to cases and scenarios of child abuse. The author provides you with many “real world” examples of how to implement strategies that provide and connect families with social networks and community resources.
There are a variety of community resources that provide assistance to families: child care programs, Head Start, welfare, hospitals, health departments, and mental health services, to name a few. The list is endless, but my favorite community resources are the public libraries. My public library provides a variety of programs for a wide range of ages. Every morning the library holds an early childhood literacy class for parents and children. A librarian will model how to create engaging read-alouds for infants and toddlers. While the librarian is presenting the read-aloud, the child is being entertained and receiving important early child literacy skills. Then, the parents are given the materials (puppets, books, and activities) to take home and recreate with their child. Many times parents are not able to assist his or her child with homework. Whether this is because the parent does not have time or the parent did not receive an education, this conflict can be resolved by the great programming offered by the library’s After School Homework Club. School-aged children come to the library and are provided with free tutoring to complete and understand school assignments. The librarian goes above and beyond by contacting the parents to explain what was worked on and completed during the time the child was at the library. Whatever the reason may be, the family does not need to feel helpless because there are resources available to help reduce the burden and stress of everyday life.
While there is an array of programming and resources available to families, many of the programs are being negatively affected by budget cuts and policy making. Budget cuts can affect the quality of programming that is available for the family. Another issue is attracting and retaining highly qualified educators for child care programs. Many times child care programs see a high educator turnover because the educator is underpaid. If child care is seen as one of the main solutions to end poverty, increase economic development, and eliminate bias, then it needs to be funded. Many politicians and policy makers have created initiatives to put the child first, but as a society we have a long way to go.
As an educator, you have a direct impact on many of the issues that pertain to the child and education. It is important for you to become a child and education advocate. If you cannot make the difference in a child’s life, then who can? The following are strategies to become an advocate.
- Get involved.
- Do something to help children.
- Speak out for children.
- Be a role model for the community.
- Register and vote.
- Understand how public policies make a difference.
For me, one of the easiest ways to be an advocate for children and education is by being informed of what is occurring in policy making at the local level. Advocating at the local level will allow you to feel as if you are having a larger impact than if you were to focus on the larger social issues. I attend my local school board’s monthly meetings, and when I cannot attend I read the meeting’s minutes. The knowledge I gain at the school board meetings allows me to understand what improvements are being implemented and conflicts that are on the horizon. Then, I bring this information back to my families so they are aware and informed of choices being made for their children. Many times, you will be able to voice your own opinions or solutions at a local board meeting if you ask for permission to be on the agenda prior to attending. If you find that you, other educators, and families have a strong opinion on a certain topic, you should approach the board together. There is no greater strength found than in numbers. To me this is a perfect example of being an advocate for children and education. As you read, pick one or two advocacy strategies you think you could implement in your own classroom or town. As quoted by Mahatma Gandhi, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”
Enjoy your last lesson. It’s really been a pleasure to work with you in this course. Always remember that you are a tremendously important contributor when it comes to developing this nation’s greatest resource—its children. I wish you great success in your new career.