As an early childhood professional, what has been your experiences when working with children living in poverty? I am specifically interested in their language development and their socialization.
In my current post-graduate course I am continuing my work on researching the effects on children living in poverty. My focus has narrowed to discussing how a child’s language development and socialization can be delayed as a result of their home environment. Thus far in my project, I have conducted a literature review discussing the many different issues that can develop and affect a child’s physical, mental, emotional, and cognitive development. I have also interviewed two early childhood professionals that live in my community and work daily with at-risk children and their families. Both women are well known professionals in early childhood and active in community service activities outside of their daily careers. Mrs. Rogers and Mrs. Waggoner were both very gracious and warm during our interview. I felt that both women spoke very honestly and openly about the challenges that they face on a daily basis in working with young children living in poverty. During the interview process, I was interested to find out how each professional viewed their role in working with children and how they worked to make a difference each day. Mrs. Rogers, a Preschool Special Education teacher, believes her most important job is to develop a relationship with the families’ of her students in order to best meet the child’s needs. She has come to understand that a teacher must child value and validate a child’s family in order to bridge the gap from home to school. The comment that I found most mirrored by philosophy was when Mrs. Rogers discussed the negative effect on learning that a child can suffer when teachers do not take the time to develop a positive relationship with the child and the family. I, too, believe that a positive relationship is the most important first step when beginning with a new student. Parents need to trust that a teacher will love their child and children need to feel that a teacher wants them to be successful and loves them too. Mrs. Waggoner, Director for The Promethean Foundation, works with families that are in need of child care services, but not able to financially afford them. Children are awarded scholarships, funded by a private donor, if they qualify and are able to attended a high quality center that adheres to a strict Foundation approved curriculum. Mrs. Waggoner visits the children in the center and at home to make sure that they are progressing in a positive academic and social direction. Her belief is that she should treat all people as she wants to be treated because we are all created the same and deserving of love and respect. The comment that I found most interesting during my interview was that in the beginning of her career, Mrs. Waggoner believed that children living in unsafe environments should be removed from the home, but through her work she has come to understand that family is everything to children and to remove a child from the home, without just cause, can be extremely detrimental to the child’s development. This comment made me consider my own biases when working with difficult families and how I deal with them. These two interviews have provided me with a more human perspective on working with at-risk children and I was impressed by the professionalism shown by these women. I am working to incorporate their perspectives and beliefs into my course project in order to support the research. My goal for this project to raise awareness for early childhood professionals on the effects of children living in poverty. By working together to develop positive relationships with the child and their families, early intervention by professionals can help these families learn how to create a better home environment for everyone.