Website redesign announcement from the Illinois Early Learning Project (Guest blogger: Dr. Rebecca Swartz)

On behalf of the staff of the Illinois Early Learning Project , I am pleased to announce that our website has been redesigned. The Illinois Early Learning Project was started in 2001 and is funded by the Illinois State Board of Education. The web site is a source of evidence-based, reliable information on early care and education for families, caregivers, and teachers of young children in Illinois. We have resources in a variety of formats including our well known, easy to read tip sheets, videos, and information about the Project Approach. Our website includes many resources to help individuals and communities understand the Illinois Early Learning Guidelines, the Illinois Early Learning and Development Standards and most recently, the Illinois Kindergarten Learning Standards.

We hope you will find the new layout to be a user-friendly and useful resource for your teaching and for your students. We also encourage you to let the families of young children in your community know about our resources through community agencies and resource fairs. Our materials are free and can be shared via print, email, and social media. A link for ordering printed materials is here located on our homepage.

We have some new materials on the website that we want to highlight so you can integrate them into your teaching and outreach work. Our selection of graphic tip sheets has grown. These colorful, one-page tip sheets are great for posting on bulletin boards, sharing on social media, and easy to read. Teacher educators may wish to use them as prompts for assignments. Student can be encouraged to to reflect in small groups, discussion forums, or essays on how they might use the tip sheets as a tool in sharing child development and early learning information with families. Our new Early Learning Moments series is a resource for teacher educators presenting infant-toddler content. Use them for classroom instruction or assign them as self-study lessons.

During the process of our website redesign, we carefully reviewed all of the materials on our website to ensure that we are providing current, evidence-based information in up to date and useful formats. You may find that certain links have changed. We encourage you to use the “search” field located in the upper right corner of the website. You can type in keywords to search all of our project resources. If you encounter further difficulty, our project staff would be happy to assist you via email.

Another way to search our resources is to use a database search. Click to search resources by topic and you can search our data base by keyword, language, audience, and type of media. We encourage you to show your students the different ways to search the website so they can find materials that will help them in their coursework and teaching of young children. We will continue to develop new resources and welcome you to send us ideas for resources that would meet your needs as teacher educators. You can send your ideas via our user survey. We will also be at the Sharing a Vision conference in October! Our shared session with the Early Intervention Clearinghouse will provide help in searching for resources online and our new workshop, Junkyard Math will be a hands-on workshop that will introduce the redesigned website while we explore IEL’s mathematics resources. You can also visit our table to pick up printed materials, say hello, and tell us about your work and needs as teacher educators.

 

Dr. Rebecca Swartz, an early learning specialist for IEL, completed her doctorate in human development and family studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Rebecca’s research and outreach work focuses on infant-toddler care, home-based child care, and the social-emotional development of young children. Her goal is to help parents and early educators by providing evidence-based resources on child development and early learning.

Do early childhood educators need degrees?

Recent news such as this article, regarding new local regulations that include requirements for teachers and directors in the Early Childhood Education Community in the District of Columbia to have degrees by 2020 (Clairmont, 2017), have reignited the conversation of the value of degrees in the early childhood field.

There has been much debate about the “good” teachers without a degree versus those with a degree. Some people question if all degree programs are high quality and provide students with the knowledge, skills and disposition to be more confident and competent in their work with young children, their families and colleagues. Other people say that the question should be not the degree but the skills and knowledge that make teachers successful at supporting the growth and development of young children. Additionally, some people say that the question should be how to provide an appropriate salary that reflects the professional credentials. Other people say that the real question should be what is the cost to have teachers with degrees in Early Childhood Programs, especially in Community-based Organizations in under resourced neighborhood, who will pay the cost and How.

Here is another article, examining the idea of apprenticeships as a vehicle for addressing some of the PD, equity and pay needs for the early childhood education field (McCarthy, 2017).

What are your thoughts on this subject?

References

Clairmont, N. (July 11, 2017). D.C.’s misguided attempt to regulate daycar: Requiring child-care workers to have college degrees will likely widen the capital’s economic disparities. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2017/07/dc-daycare-regulations-credentialism/532449/

McCarthy, M.A. (June, 2017). Rethinking credential requirements in early education: Equity-based strategies for professionalizing a vulnerable workforce. Retrieved from https://na-production.s3.amazonaws.com/documents/Rethinking-Credential-Requirements-ECE.pdf

 

Dr. Boh Young Lee is an assistant professor of Early Childhood Education program in the department of Curriculum and Instruction at Western Illinois University.