Early Childhood Program promotes well-being and the healthy development environment to young children via initiatives that focus community and parent engagement, professional development and government accountability. Such kinds of events are based on right based and these social justice frameworks grab the attention of the people towards the development challenges deal by children. These children belong to the minority groups and living in poverty. Due to these reasons, they have faced delays in development of physical and mental health which has causes disabilities and malnutrition issues (Heckman, Pinto and Savelyev, 2013). By seen the following problem, the Open Society Foundation has planned to implement early childhood program in some chosen nations such as Eastern and Central Europe, Africa, Asia, the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Middle East, Latin America and North Africa. This strategy has focus towards five areas: improving public systems and policies, innovative services and programs, building the capacity of civil community and professionals, engaging marginalize society and conducting advocacy and promoting accountability. The present research will focus over designing a short early childhood program that will encourage children to be critical thinkers by disrupting dominant discourses.
Early Childhood Program provides a comprehensive approach to work with different civil community groups, national governments etc with the aim of addressing early childhood development issues. With the application of this, it becomes easy to plan early childhood policies and other related frameworks (de Silva-Sanigorski and et.al., 2010). Establishment of this program has supported most important regional networks such as NGO of different countries etc. The aim of this event is to improving home learning environments of children without the help of preschool education so that they can learn the things in effective manner.
In the present time, stereotypes thrive in all kind of communities. One of the methods is that people in diverse communities try to tolerate differences with the aim of to make generalization. This thing categorizes individuals into various groups. Some of typecasts have negative in nature while some have positive (Reynolds, Temple and et.al., 2011). These all have contributed to a culture of injustice which has communicated to the communities, families and young children via word and actions. The early gender bias activities have given the shape to the attitude and beliefs of the children. It has affected the development of them in both interpersonal and intrapersonal relationships. It has found from the research that between the age of 3 to 5 years, children have started to understand their gender identify and know what is the means to be female or male. After becoming aware towards this subject, they starts develop stereotypes and also applies to others and themselves. After crossing the age of 5 year old, children have become able to deal with gender stereotypes (Campbell, Conti and et.al., 2014). This thing has limited the development and growth of them because negative typecasts have affected the self esteem of children which has made impact over their academic performance. There are various reasons which have promoted gender stereotypes in young children. Popular culture in the recent time is one of the reasons where consumer products overwhelm child with gender type messages on towels, cloths, school supplies, bed sheets, furniture etc. These types of goods are not only marketed to create gender different but also merchandised in stores on the basis of gender (Harms, Clifford and Cryer, 2014). Along with this, media such as advertisements, movies, promotional videos etc have developed the gender differences in the mind of children who are at the early stage of development. Further early childhood education, family environment and friends behaviour is other reasons of actively create gender typecast. Therefore, the above stated rational has influenced to select the gender stereotypes topic for the investigation.
During the past 5 years of teaching in the early childhood areas, I have observed many young children who have developed ideas regarding gender identity. It has increased my understanding regarding gender expression as a big social justice issue. It has assisted me to realize how external influences were worked inside the classroom of preschool and were made the impact on the interaction of the children as well as their choice to play and explore the things. By working in a progressive school, I was able to engage in various ongoing learning opportunities, reflection and observation. School emergent curriculum approach needed me to give a close attention to playing of children with the aim of building the curriculum and develop an environment for them by considering their interest. In one semester of class, a nature field trip was organized. During this tour, I have noticed there was a great enthusiasm developing in a small group of girls. They attempted a campfire with the help of logs and sticks. By observing their working and discussion, I started to develop a curriculum which evolved the interest of the children via different activities during the trip. With this program, it was determined that it was developed stereotypes groups in the schools where the interest of boys and girls categorized them into different groups. This gender influence was showed the power and presence in the classroom. This thing was inspired me how can I offer a curriculum that offers children with more opportunities so that they can act outside to traditional gender role.
Reflective Learning: Reflecting on and critically assessing practices is a care part of early childhood professional works. It helps in maintain a learning culture in a service by adopting continuous improvement. This outlines the procedure where early childhood professionals establish the partnership with the families, children and communities to collect and analyze facts and other information. With the help of this, it becomes easy to make decisions with the respect of what things are important for families and children to live in their communities (Bruder, 2010). By applying the following framework, it can enhance early childhood professionals’ awareness towards biasness and inequities in gender. This has supported the rights of the children and makes them become more successful learners. Early years planning cycle (EYPC) has also helped individuals to determine the next steps of improvements by promoting the positive thoughts towards gender equity. It has influenced early childhood professionals to actively participate in the direction of minimize the gender stereotypes issues to the communities. This process makes the children more critical thinker and makes them capable to understand the issue related to gender which may affect their development and learning over the time.
Partnership with Families: This is another learning experience in which children learn most of the things in early years from surrounding families. These are the primary influential on leaning and development of the child. Families have a long term relationship and also a unique perspective towards their own kids. They have contained important information about their children such as weaknesses, strengths, interest, habits etc. With the help of the following learning experience, early childhood professional can create partnership with child family and try to get the essential information. It develops link between home and other settings a child attends. It may be possible that some of the families of children find it as a challenging process to engage with early childhood professionals to develop a good understanding in the kids regarding the gender equity (Nores and Barnett, 2010). The reasons behind consider it as challenging process are parents own languages, socio economic and culture backgrounds, health disabilities etc. To overcome those barriers, early childhood professionals can use different ways of communication with families and increase their engagement. Partnership with families have enable creating a good environment for the children in the schools and other learning areas where they cannot influenced from negative stereotype groups. This has effectively promoted the learning and development of the kids at the home; school and community with minimize diversity on the basis of genders (SIMPSON-DAL SANTO, 2016). Along with this, it has enhanced confidence level of families by supporting them in the development of their child.
Respectful Relationship and Responsive Engagement: From born, warm and respectful relationship with familiar persons develop and strengthen secure attachment with their children. The reason of this is it has provided a fundamental base for development and learning of kids. The following relationship offers protective factors to support the well-being of children and enhance learning capabilities. This thing has acted as a buffer for the child to feel safe, secure and confident enough to try the new things and has made them capable to learn new concepts and skills. The image of the child in the form of competent learner has developed with his birth. This driver has enabled the professionals to provide the safe and stimulating environment to the children (EARLY CHILDHOOD PROGRAM, 2017). Along with this, it has encouraged them to improve the capabilities and knowledge of the different subjects by staying remains in different gender stereotypes group. Positive engagement of parents and early childhood professionals with children have promoted emotional security, sense of belongingness, concepts and culture understanding etc make them interactive with opposite gender kids. This has formed the strong bonds and friendship with between. The concept of respectful relationship and responsive engagement has actively encourages children to develop a respectful relationships with other gender people in community and other learning places (Cameron and Aina, 2011). This has definitely promoted the confidence and empowerment of young children and has helped them to engage effectively with others. The anti-bias approach to teaching has made the kids critical thinker on analyze the gender issue.
Therefore, with the application of the above stated three learning experiences, these have encouraged the children to adopt the unbiased interactions and communication with opposite gender kids. It has changed the behaviour and attitude of them towards gender stereotype issue with various areas of anti-bias curriculum (Solomon, 2016).
From the audit process, there are various resources have determined that might be encouraging dominant discourses in gender stereotypes in early develop children. In this context, the list of the resources which causes the following issue is as follows:
Popular Culture: It is one of the major resources of causes of gender stereotype. In the present time, many of the companies have advertised their products and services for the kids in different manner (Shonkoff, 2010). For instance, some images have printed over the towels and bed sheets which have specially designed for the early children and have created the gender difference in them. Along with this, in merchandize stores has also segregated by genders. In this context, media has also reinforced gender stereotype for creating the difference between male and female.
Early Childhood Education: The role of schools has become more important in the lives of children younger than 5 years of age. Many of children have spent more than 10 hours in day care centres. During this, there are two major aspects of early childhood environment that influence perception of young children towards gender and its related stereotypes. These are classroom materials and instruction of teachers (Campbell, Pungello and et.al., 2012). From the preschool, the child has learnt about gender inequalities. For example, in the preschool or day care centre, propagation of gender-typed toys such as pink kitchen sets etc has developed the gender difference between girl and boy child during the play. Along with this, Teachers have remarkable influence on how kids have developed ideas of gender and its related issues. The traditional example related to this is when the girls have praised for their dressing, neatness, hairstyles, behaviour etc while boys have praised for their physical skills, height, size and academic accomplishments (Heckman, 2011). The way of addressing the boys and girls the class by the teachers have also the resource of causes of gender stereotypes.
Friends and Families: Both have acted as a role modeling in terms influencing the attitude and behaviour of children towards gender typed issues. For example, the behaviour of mother and father at the time of born and brought up of girl and boy child has different. This thing has influenced gender learning of children in early stage and has made them more gender stereotype with the time. Along with this, peer pressure and friendship patterns have also contributed to development of gender stereotypes (Burger, 2010).
These above stated three major resources that might be encouraging dominant discourses in gender stereotype could be used in differently to challenge the gender diversity. For example, the nations have to restricted or banned on TV advertisement which has created gender inequalities in the communities. On the other hand, in early childhood education, teachers can carefully examine classroom environment for the presence of toys which has marked or encourages single gender use such Hot Wheels, Barbie dolls, computer designed toys etc. Teachers can also remove that furniture which is creating gender stereotype during the play. Along with this, families can adopt unbiased interactions and communication with their boy and girl child. This can create a good bonding between children and their parents (Shonkoff, Garner and et.al., 2012). Therefore, by utilizing popular culture, friends and families and early childhood education, it will become easy to deal with gender stereotype challenges in early childhood stage.
From the above research, it has learned by me that gender stereotypes have considered as a set of cultural expectations that has adopted by majority of the people. During the study, there have several sources analyzed by me which has encouraged dominant discourses in gender stereotype. These are popular culture, friends and families and early childhood education. By applying these resources in counter position, it can be possible to overcome that issue in an effective manner. From the study, I have analyzed that there are many of the organizations that have used gender biased ads and videos to promote the children products and services. It has increased the gender stereotypes issues in child at the early stage of development. This has influenced the behaviour and attitude of his towards the opposite gender. By seen this, European nations have banned on those ads which has promoted gender stereotypes in children. Further, I have learned that by changing the born and brought up of both boy and girl in family, it has become easy to change the attitude and perception of children towards gender stereotypes. Along with this, the teachers of day care centre and preschool have to alter the learning and playing environment of children. Therefore, from the above discussion, I have gained knowledge that by using causes of rising of gender stereotypes, it can be possible to minimize the diversity of gender in early childhood development stage of kids.
From the above research, it can be analyzed that Early Childhood Program has promoted health and well-being of children during their development. With the time, many of the countries have adopted the following concept to deal with different issues that has developed barriers in physical and mental health of children. Popular culture, friends and families and early childhood education has the major reasons of occurrence of gender stereotypes problem and change in attitude and behaviour of the kids in early stage. With the help of several strategies, it has possible to deal with problem and bring the changes in attitude and behaviour of children towards gender stereotypes.
Books and Journals
Bruder, M.B., 2010. Early childhood intervention: A promise to children and families for their future. Exceptional Children. 76(3). pp.339-355.
Burger, K., 2010. How does early childhood care and education affect cognitive development? An international review of the effects of early interventions for children from different social backgrounds. Early childhood research quarterly. 25(2). pp.140-165.
Campbell, F., Conti, G. and et.al., 2014. Early childhood investments substantially boost adult health. Science. 343(6178). pp.1478-1485.
Campbell, F.A., Pungello, E.P. and et.al., 2012. Adult outcomes as a function of an early childhood educational program: an Abecedarian Project follow-up. Developmental psychology. 48(4). p.1033.
de Silva-Sanigorski, A.M. and et.al., 2010. Reducing obesity in early childhood: results from Romp & Chomp, an Australian community-wide intervention program. The American journal of clinical nutrition. 91(4). pp.831-840.
Feldens, C.A., Giugliani, E.R.J and et.al., 2010. Long‐term effectiveness of a nutritional program in reducing early childhood caries: a randomized trial. Community dentistry and oral epidemiology. 38(4). pp.324-332.
Harms, T., Clifford, R.M. and Cryer, D., 2014. Early childhood environment rating scale. Teachers College Press.
Heckman, J., Pinto, R. and Savelyev, P., 2013. Understanding the mechanisms through which an influential early childhood program boosted adult outcomes. The American economic review. 103(6). pp.2052-2086.
Heckman, J.J., 2011. The Economics of Inequality: The Value of Early Childhood Education. American Educator. 35(1). p.31.
Nores, M. and Barnett, W.S., 2010. Benefits of early childhood interventions across the world:(Under) Investing in the very young. Economics of education review. 29(2). pp.271-282.
Reynolds, A.J., Temple, J.A. and et.al., 2011. School-based early childhood education and age-28 well-being: Effects by timing, dosage, and subgroups. Science. 333(6040). pp.360-364.
Shonkoff, J.P., 2010. Building a new biodevelopmental framework to guide the future of early childhood policy. Child development. 81(1). pp.357-367.
Shonkoff, J.P., Garner, A.S. and et.al., 2012. The lifelong effects of early childhood adversity and toxic stress. Pediatrics. 129(1). pp.e232-e246.
Cameron, P. and Aina, O., 2011. Why Does Gender Matter? Counteracting Stereotypes With Young Children. [PDF]. Available through: <http://www.southernearlychildhood.org/upload/pdf/Why_Does_Gender_Matter_Counteracting_Stereotypes_With_Young_Children_Olaiya_E_Aina_and_Petronella_A_Cameron.pdf>. [Accessed on 16th January 2017].
EARLY CHILDHOOD PROGRAM. 2017. [Online]. Available through: <https://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/about/programs/early-childhood-program>. [Accessed on 16th January 2017].
SIMPSON-DAL SANTO, R., 2016. Teaching gender identities in early childhood education and care. [Online]. Available through: <http://rightnow.org.au/opinion-3/teaching-gender-identities-early-childhood-education-care/>. [Accessed on 16th January 2017].
Solomon, J., 2016. Gender Identity and Expression in the Early Childhood Classroom. [PDF]. Available through: <https://www.naeyc.org/yc/files/yc/VOP%20.pdf>. [Accessed on 16th January 2017].
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