Steven Bonnay is a feature writer who contributes to our blog. He is a Registered Early Childhood Educator who completed his ECE diploma and postgrad certificate in autism and behavior studies at Seneca College. He worked both at the Seneca Lab School and as a part-time field placement professor before joining our team.
Early childhood education is a field with many moving parts that come together to support the needs of children and their families. There are many multidisciplinary professionals involved in supporting the core staff that work with children daily and they all contribute to quality programming. Read more here to learn about Early Childhood Education. This article unpacks the roles of these professionals and their relationship to educators and the families that they serve.
The early childhood educator (ECE)
ECEs are the people that work with children daily in programs and make up the teaching and administration staff of centers. The ECE documents detailed observations on each child’s learning development and need for support, creating the foundation for understanding a child’s development. As they work very closely with children, they communicate consistently with parents. In the event of a situation where a child requires extra support, the ECE is usually involved in assessment, diagnosis and execution of an Early Intervention Plan (EIP).
- Resource teacher
Resource teachers assist ECEs in helping children with learning difficulties, such as children with hearing or visual impairments. These individuals usually specialize in helping children develop at their own pace and. Resource teachers are assigned to their own centers and help promote an effective balance between supporting individual intervention strategies as well as daily classroom needs. Resource teachers work with ECEs to generate an individualized support plan for children that require it.
- Occupational therapist
Occupational therapists supports the development of adaptive skills for children that are developmentally delayed. These professionals usually come to the center to observe individual children and assess their interactions with the environment and peers that take place. Their observations and input to the ECE is aimed for the enhancement of the environment and how the ECE can support families in developing routines and strategies to support the child.
- Speech pathologist
Speech pathologists specialize in identifying and addressing the needs of children that have communication and emergent literacy challenges. As with the other professionals, they are very involved in supporting both ECEs and families. They do so through evaluating the need of a child, suggesting an early intervention plan for the child, educating parents and teachers on linguistic development as well as supporting the child directly in their skill development.
- Social Worker
The social worker is the person that communicates with all the members of the intervention team. They sometimes conduct visits to both the home and the center. Based on the observations and information compiled from different sources, such as the specialist working with the child, pediatricians and even child psychologists. The social worker has a “big picture” view of the child and family. Working closely with the ECE in the classroom, the social worker can provide child specific insight as well as training on intervention strategies.
Pediatricians are one of the key professionals that work with young children. Family physicians are usually one of the first professionals that young parents refer to for counsel on the care of their young child, particularly with physical and socioemotional development. Although they do not work directly with child care centers, pediatricians and early childhood educators share the same goal to support the families they serve with access to quality child care. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) provides its members with recommendations on working together with educators to educate families about the benefits of quality programming.
With technology becoming more of an integrated part of daily life, child care centers are adopting tools to help streamline many administrative processes. Text messaging, email and social media are now commonly used to help parents stay in the loop and keep up with their children’s development. As parents become more educated on early development, child care software has become a new trend that has forward looking growth of 10% from 2017-2021. Some companies have in-house ECEs to inform the development of their products to better serve the needs of practicing ECEs and their families.
Early childhood educators work with young children from all walks of life and cultures. This means that creating a support system that encourages continuous learning is key to addressing the needs of children appropriately, be it from within the field or from professions that have the same goal of improving outcomes for children.
- Wayne State University. Who is an Early Childhood Educator?
- AuCoin, Porter.”The Role of the Resource Teacher in an Inclusive Setting”Education Canada. 57(1), 2017.
- Opp. “Occupational Therapy in Early Intervention: Helping Children Succeed,” The American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc.. 2017.
- American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.Roles and Responsibilities of Speech-Language Pathologists in Early Intervention: position statement. 2008.
- Miller. The Role of Social Workers for ECI. 2017.
- American Academy of Pediatrics. Quality Early Education and Child Care from Birth to Kindergarten.2005.
- Hurwitz,Lauricella &co. Early Child Development and Care:Supporting Head Start parents: impact of a text message intervention on parent–child activity engagement. 185(9),1373-1389. 2015.
- TechNavio. Research and Markets:Global Child Care Management Software Market 2017-2021. 2016.