Monday, April 23, 2012

Educated Child Care Providers Empower Communities

Written by Diana Abel, Rio Salado College Director for Early Childhood and Human Development
How important is outdoor play for children?

Aside from the opportunities to use gross motor skills while running, riding a bike, swinging on swings outdoor play for children is FUN!

Unstructured outdoor play provides a much needed outlet for stress (yes, young children experience stress) and is a great avenue for children to move their bodies and raise their voices in ways that are not appropriate while indoors.

Especially for children under the age of eight, learning occurs best when the whole self is involved. Outdoor play provides an ideal platform for uniting the body, mind and spirit in the carefree expressions of childhood.

Although a recent report from The American Academy of Pediatrics says that children should play outside for at least 60 minutes a day, another study from The Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine states that almost half of three to five year olds don’t play outside on a daily basis.

Providing young children with the foundation and support they need is key for building and maintaining strong communities. As an educator in the field of Early Childhood and Human Development for nearly 30 years, I have seen the positive impact that well-educated family child care providers can have on a child and their family.

Rio Salado College student Sharnet Parker’s lifetime goal has been to provide quality care for children and families. Parker saw her goal become a reality and currently owns and operates Rising STARS Preschool and Childcare center in Chandler, Arizona.

“While raising my own two boys, in 1996 with the support of my husband and family, I fulfilled my dream by opening my family child care business,” Parker said.

She credits Rio Salado for providing educational and professional development support for her career. Parker has earned her Academic Certificate in Professional Development and is working toward an Associate of Applied Science in Early Childhood Education.

More than 5,000 students currently take Early Childhood and Human Development classes at the college. Rio offers seven certificate and three associate degrees in Early Childhood and Human Development. The program provides a variety of pathways in online formats; infant/toddler, preschool, school age (after school programs), adolescence studies, family life education, adult development and aging and management of early childhood environments. The college also works directly with employers to bring selected courses to the workplace.

“It is my hope to inspire others,” Parker said. “My passion isn't just teaching children, it is also showing other providers how to be successful and to inspire them to provide quality care to young children.”

This next week, April 22 – 28, the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) will be celebrating Week of the Young Child. As noted by NAEYC, the purpose of the week is to “focus public attention on the needs of young children and their families and to recognize the early childhood programs and services that meet those needs.” Rio Salado College will celebrate the week by participating in a community event in Buckeye, and by hosting the Fifth-Annual Early Childhood Director’s Conference on April 21.

Published in Tempe Republic April 21, 2012