I recently saw this post by Ms. Syreeta Springer and thought it would be of interest to many people who read this blog regularly. It's entitled "EC Education 101: How to become an early childhood advocate" and contains a great deal of useful information. -Dr. Petrosino
Being an advocate for children and their families is not an easy thing. You must be willing to express your thoughts on high profile issues and policy. It incorporates doing research and joining professional organizations such as NAEYC and NIEER to keep abreast of current legislative decisions regarding early education.
But most of all it involves speaking up for young children. If you embody strong convictions about how young children grow and learn and are concerned about what’s in their best interests, then advocacy is for you. So how does one become involved as an advocate?
1) Start local- it begins with the children in your classroom. At times you may have to challenge the school administrators or interdisciplinary professionals to push for services for a child. You may have to speak up at the IEP meeting, so that parents understand the process their child is going through. Remember, you are with the child most often throughout the day and therefore, understand their strengths and weaknesses. Keep detailed notes about the child’s progress or things that need improving. You may need to be resourceful and seek assistance from outside sources to help the child and family.
2) Read literature-this helps you to become knowledgeable about current trends, research and legislation in early childhood education. That way when questioned by a parent, you are aware of studies that can back up what you say.
3) Join a professional organization-it’s a great way to get access to literature (through the organization’s professional journal or magazine) and attend workshops/conferences to extend your knowledge base as well as gain a fresh outlook on teaching.
4) Write letters to your congressman, assemblyman, senator, etc. - lobby at the local, state, and national level on issues concerning early education. It does make a difference when your voice is heard.