Using Everyday Classroom Experiences to Advocate for Young Children
This article explores ways that early childhood practitioners can use teacher research to effectively advocate for their students.
The early care and education workforce is large, with more than 2 million center- and home-based teachers and caregivers directly working with children birth through 5 years old. Engaged early childhood professionals comprise large coalition that has the ability to mobilize in order to create positive change for the well-being of infants, toddlers, and their families.
Early childhood professionals can provide valuable insight into key policy issues that they see affecting children and families on a daily basis, and thus, they are ideally suited to work with policymakers and researchers to produce the best outcomes for kids.
Practitioners—giving voice to the challenges that they see in the classroom and proposing solutions—are essential for the creation of sustainable and meaningful policy changes in this field. As a practitioner, have you ever wondered about the efficacy of the policies that affect your classroom? By asking a simple, specific, and genuine question about the routines of children and their families, practitioners can help evaluate whether certain policies or procedures within a classroom, center-, or home-based facility are helpful to the children they serve. Asking such questions is a form of practitioner research, which can be used in advocating for policy change.
Transforming Research into Advocacy
Using your expertise and stories will allow you to advocate for children in one of the most compelling ways—with stories that correlate with data.
Here are a few ways that you can share your stories with policymakers:
- Use ZERO TO THREE’s Find Your Elected Officials tool to find the contact information for your U.S. Senators and Representative, as well as your state and local legislators. Then, arrange a meeting to share your expertise with your policymakers.
- Invite policymakers into your classroom. Allow your policymakers to come visit your classroom to see how a specific policy is impacting children and their families. Use ZERO TO THREE’s How to Plan a Site Visit to help you to plan and schedule a visit.
- Download ZERO TO THREE’s Using Data to Advocate Effectively to understand the best ways to present the results from your research when advocating change to policymakers.
Practitioners can make a significant impact by advocating for policies that produce positive outcomes for children and their families. They are in a unique position to understand how effectively programs are being implemented and how policies impact their community— information which is extremely valuable to policymakers.
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