A work in progress…

ImageIn 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.

 

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11 thoughts on “A work in progress…

  1. Kimberly,

    One of your comments really hit home for me. You stated, “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.” My husband and I just had this conversation about a week ago. He is adamant that children living in these conditions should be taken from their homes, while I completely disagree. As I have learned more information on the importance of early family bonds, it is more important to help support these families than tear them apart. I debated with him for quite awhile on this topic and even told him I was going to cite research if he wasn’t careful. It’s unfortunate that some individuals, including my husband, lack the knowledge to realize that tearing families apart will not solve the problem….it will only make matters worse for the child.

    • Early in my career, I had the same struggle myself when dealing with mothers that were abusive, neglectful, or unfit. I wondered if the child would be better off without this person that gave birth to him, because I believe it takes more than the ability to birth a child to be a mother. As I worked with children and their families, I came to understand that a child loves his mother whether she is good or bad, and to be removed from the home and security of his mother would cause tremendous stress for the child. Rather than punishing the child even further, I resolved some years ago to work more closely with my families in an effort to support and educate them on issues affecting their home environment. Some families are very receptive to my assistance and want to do everything they can to make a better life for their child, but sadly, some are angry and not open to assistance from an outsider. My mission remains to help as many families as will permit me to better their home and give their child a solid foundation for success.

  2. Hi Kim were are both discussing the same topic on poverty. I have found out how domestic violence have increased the number of children living in poverty. My project is coming alone as is yours. Did you see on 1/8/2014 was the 50th anniversary on the war on poverty and it is a war that we are not winning?

    • I was not aware of the upcoming anniversary and I am saddened by the fact that we have come so far as a nation in 50 years, but our children are still living in terrible conditions and carrying life-long scars due to the trauma that they see growing up. I do not understand how our government can not see that our greatest future lies in taking care of the children that will lead our country. Funding is constantly being reallocated from education to other areas and our children are suffering, especially our children living in poverty. I fear that the war on poverty is not going to be won anytime soon, but as early childhood educators we need to be vigilant in the fight for our children.

  3. Kimberly,
    Working with at-risk children brings many challenges for teachers. My topic of toxic stress can be closely related to your topic of poverty. When families are experiencing the stress of lacking resources to get needs met, the children often are left without proper support. Most parents are seeking to help their children in any way possible. When resources are lacking, parents often have to make sacrifices to accomplish their goals. Children may lack attention or supervision because parents cannot afford better care for them. The Promethean Project seeks to help parents find child care while they work and attend school. The program also helps child care centers provide a high quality education for young children. You discussed building positive relationships with children and their families. I believe this is one the most important roles of early childhood professionals. When relationships are built on trust and respect, the relationship can become reciprocal. Parents and teachers work in harmony toward the child’s best future. Each partner supporting the other in setting goals, planning actions, and implementing care. This trusting relationship fosters genuine care and support. When families know teachers are on their side, supporting them in their circumstances, they are willing to follow suggestions and accept help more readily. We may not be able to fix all the problems our families experience, but we can provide a safe environment for them. We can offer resources and guidance to help families make choices that hopefully improve their lives.
    Cynthia Thralls

    • Thank you for sharing your topic and thoughts with me. I agree that early childhood professionals must work to develop a relationship with a child’s family in order to best meet the needs of the child. When the family feels that we are not working with them and value them as a part of the team, they can pass on negative feelings or comments to the child and cause the child to feel that his or her family is not respected. Family means everything to a child and if we are really interested in working to help, then it is essential that his or her family become an important member of the child’s support group.

      • I agree we must work in harmony with families to help our children. If we try to work against the caregivers, we set ourselves up for difficulties and possible failure. Educators must build partnerships with families to ensure they get the necessary support. Positive interactions are invaluablewhen working with families.

  4. Kimberly,
    I am also researching the topic of poverty for our course project. I think it is a great area of focus to look at how language development and socialization are affected by living in poverty. Those two subtopics go hand and hand in my opinion. Your interviewee Mrs. Rodgers sounds a lot like my interview Mrs. Robison in the fact that they both share the idea that developing a relationship with the family is one of the most important things you can do. Mrs. Robison also feels supporting the relationships the family has with one another is also very important. As you mention closing the gap between home and school is crucial. It is interesting because at the beginning of my career I shared the same belief Mrs. Waggoner did about removing children from their homes. I felt that if they were unhappy or seemed neglected in any way they should be automatically removed. I had an eye opening experience that dealt directly with that idea. I had a student a few years ago that lived in a home that had many challenges and disadvantages and when asked if they would like to be placed somewhere else they said no. They said that being with their family was more important to them than anything else. It sounds like you had two great interviews with two very knowledgable early childhood professionals.

    • Thank you for sharing your thoughts and I was very impressed with the two women that I interviewed. I felt like I learned about how to think about things from a different point of view in listening to them explain their successes and challenges that have occurred throughout their careers. It seems that most of us, when we were young and naïve, believed that children that were living in unfit environments needed to be taken away from their families, but with experience and maturity, we have learned that children see their families as essential for them no matter what the home is like. How is your project going and what do you feel is theme of your work?

  5. Hi,
    I left a message last Sunday but I don’t I don’t see it on your page so I decided to leave another message.
    You stated that building a relationship was one of the most important first steps in connecting with a child when you first meet them. I completely agree! Formulating a good, strong, trusting relationship with the child as well as the parents is essential. If children don’t trust us as educators then who will they have to confide in when they have damaged relationships with their parents or family? I work diligently to establish rapport and relationships with the parents of the clients that I serve. I work even harder to establish relationships with the children I serve. If I do not have a good relationship with the child then they will not trust me or open up to me in therapy so that I can help them to strengthen their areas of weakness. Building and formulating good, strong, positive relationships are essential in all educational arenas.

  6. Sorry about the confusion from your first message, thank you for leaving it again. I wish more early childhood professional could understand the importance of building a trusting relationship with each child. Children need to feel loved and secure in their home and at school, and often the children that I teach lack a sense of security at home. My job is to make them feel safe and secure while they are at school in an effort to give them opportunities to be a child without the stress and worry that they often feel at home.

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