Professional Childcare Software
(800) 824-7741

Professional Development in Early Childhood: The Case for Life-Long Learning

What makes a professional stand apart from others in his or her field? The educational skills and hands-on experience make these professionals well informed and widely respected in their field. But true professionals don’t stop there. In fact, they never stop – especially when it comes to learning. After all, research is always discovering new things, and trends are always changing. Any good professional will be anticipating and responding to these changes.

In the field of early childhood education, continuing your professional development is even more important.

As teachers, we all want to grow — that’s why we like to make professional development goals for ourselves. Goals help keep us in check and lead us to self-improvement. The role of a teacher has many dimensions, and oftentimes it’s easy to get overwhelmed and stressed out. Setting professional development goals can help alleviate some of those negative feelings and make you feel better about yourself and your career.

What is professional development in childcare?Professional Development Benefits Children

Professional development is the development of new skills, knowledge and experience. You can use it to help your personal development and advance your career in the childcare sector. Professional development can include courses, work-based learning, distance learning programs, studying on your own, coaching, tutoring, teaching, going to lectures, seminars or conferences and a range of other activities.

Why is professional development important?

You’ve probably heard that professional development is important about a thousand times, but why is it so important?

As illustrated by Child Care Aware of North Dakota’s Professional Development team, your professional development has an enormous impact on children! It takes a special kind of person to work with young children. It also takes a great deal of training and education. No matter how much education or experience you already have, you can always learn more.

  • A lot happens at the beginning. Children have a little over 1,800 days from the time they are born until they start kindergarten, and 90% of brain development happens during this short time! With so much development happening, children need quality early care and education to thrive.
  • The future is in your hands. Your ability to do your job well is critically important. Your actions and decisions can promote a child’s healthy development or cause harm that lasts a lifetime.
  • We have a responsibility to children. Research shows that high-quality early learning environments build a solid foundation for later achievement and citizenship. The outcomes of your work have far-reaching, society-wide implications.
  • We have a responsibility to each other. As an early care and education professional, you need to be able to grow your own future by earning a livable wage, building job skills, and advancing your career through professional development.
Do you make teacher professional development goals?

The SMART principle is one well-tested framework for goals. To follow it, make sure your professional goals are:

  • S – specific
  • M– meaningful, measurable, motivating
  • A – acceptable, achievable, action-oriented, agreed upon, attainable
  • R – realistic, reasonable, relevant, results-oriented, rewarding
  • T – tangible, timely

Here are some examples of professional goals that can not only lead you to a pathway of success, but can also benefit your students.

Avoid teacher burnout

Teachers are natural “givers” and enjoy caring for others. However, it is crucial to take enough time for yourself to recuperate and focus on yourself. Try setting a goal to take time for yourself at least once a week. Sports, shopping, getting together with friends – all of this helps us become well-adjusted, happy individuals. Any time that you take for yourself will lead to a healthier you and provide more of a work/life balance.

Incorporate technology in the classroom

Progressive teachers understand the importance of focusing on the whole child. In a technology-advanced and ever-changing world, incorporating technology into the preschool classroom proves to be a powerful tool for helping children develop foundational skills in several important subjects.

Build relationships with your colleagues

Develop and nurture relationships with colleagues. Networking and communication skills should definitely be a priority on every teacher’s list of professional development goals. Take time to nurture these relationships because these people may become your second family.

Invite parents to get involved

It’s a teacher’s goal to get parents more involved in their children’s education. Rather than taking on all the responsibility, enlist parents’ help and encourage them to volunteer. Assign a family project or invite parents to come to Fun Friday. There are so many ways to involve parents more; you just have to make it a priority.

Engage your students

Every teacher’s goal is to keep students constantly engaged. Let’s just admit it:  sometimes learning is boring. Make learning fun by adding interactive games rather than doing worksheets and turn lessons into experiments. Make it a priority to make learning fun every day. Think about the lesson from a child’s perspective. If you think it’s boring, how can you change the lesson to make it more appealing and fun for them?

Learning is an opportunity

You might just enjoy learning! Learning is an opportunity and a privilege, and there are so many advantages to continuous lifelong learning. You deserve to go to work every day feeling engrossed in and excited about learning – the children’s and your own. No feeling compares to that of watching children truly engaged in learning.

ChildWatch® helps you track and manage the professional development training of your staff. You can easily document the type of training, course name and credit hours for each staff person. Contact us and let us help you get started today!