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The Power of Words
January 13, 2022
Personally, I’d be thrilled if some policy makers and advocates would quit pitting child care against early education (preschool). Good care is always educational. Good education is always caring. (I think that pretty well sums up 60 years of developmental research.)
-Walter Gilliam, Professor of Child Psychiatry and Psychology, Yale University

“The current hodgepodge of terminology in our field promotes utter confusion,” writes Kelly M. Campbell, in an online opinion piece in The Hechinger Report.

“Here’s a thought experiment,” she proposes. “Replace the recent headline, ‘Democrats Aim to Dramatically Reshape Child Care, Preschool,’ with ‘Democrats Aim to Dramatically Reshape Support for the Foundational Years.’ Which one might be more appealing to the parent at home or the legislator in Washington, D.C.?... Indeed, foundational brain connections for complex language, math and social emotional skills form during this time.”

Over the past few months, readers of ExchangeEveryDay have offered many thoughts on what to call our important work. We wonder what you think of Campbell’s proposal to call it “The Foundational Years.” We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

In addition to what we call our work, how we describe our program and its culture is vitally important when it’s time to advertise for new staff (an activity that has become increasingly challenging). So write Margaret Leitch Copeland, Susan Gimilaro, and Nancy Sullivan in the Exchange Essentials article collection, “Strategies for Promoting Your Program.” They explain:
“Unfortunately, few ads for early education and care positions take the applicant’s view or address the applicant. They emphasize the number of ECE credits needed, the hours, and sometimes the salary. Some do not even mention the name of the program or its location, so the applicant is left to guess by the phone number. When ads are written in haste or without mission statements in mind, the job postings can lead to unintentionally negative impressions.”





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In our large collection of Exchange Essentials article collections, find resources on subjects such as administration, child development, curriculum, environments, family, and leadership.

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Comments (8)

Displaying 5 of 8 Comments   [ View all ]
Catherine · January 13, 2022
Sydney , Australia


The Early Years Framework is a term that is commonly used around the world and is applied to children who have not yet commenced formal schooling - 0-5 yr olds. This might work better than Foundation which is a term usually applied to the first years of primary school.

Billie Warford · January 13, 2022
Retired Early Childhood Faculty
Bozeman, MT, United States


For many people elementary school remains the "Foundational Years". If we agree that you cannot educated without caring or care with out educating, why are we not using Early Care and Education as our frame? That can encompass the broad field and distinquish our specialized knowledge base and preparation to care for young children.

Exchange Press · January 13, 2022
United States


I love reading all of your comments and words you choose!

-Tiffany at Exchange Press

Francis Wardle · January 13, 2022
Center for the Study of Biracial Children
Denver, Colorado, United States


If its words that matter, lets call our field, National Defense! I am so tired of these discussions. We will NEVER get respect until, 1) we pay teachers and providers of young children what they are worth, 2) we provide adequate benefits, including vacations, to all those involved with young children, and 3), we provide free, ongoing training to all those involved with young children. It's not what we say, it's what we do!

Ronda Coito · January 13, 2022
Stanislaus County Office of Education
Ceres, CA, United States


This is truly inspiring! One of the Family Child Care Providers used to ask me, "Where's the respect?" Barriers in our thinking truly create barriers in our actions toward professionals working in various settings! I feel I have a responsibility to respond to all professionals with equity.



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