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The Need for Early Childhood Teacher Training

Dr. Donna Housman

I had the honor of running a workshop last week for the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) at their annual professional development conference on the topic of training educators to teach self-regulation and the building blocks of emotional intelligence. The workshop underscored both how timely and how critical qualified, well-trained educators are in ensuring that our early childhood education programs succeed both at a local and national level.

Teaching children emotion regulation and self-regulation from birth helps develop the neural circuits for emotional intelligence, which are highly associated with executive function. Understanding the teacher’s role as socializer, addressing emotion in real time, and using age-appropriate tools are essential in teaching the emotional competencies necessary for developing emotional intelligence.

Some 120 educators and administrators attended my workshop and what most struck me was the number of attendees who approached me afterward to ask if I could provide similar training in their state. Their overwhelming interest in the ECSEL (Emotional Cognitive Social Emotional Learning) approach we employ at Beginnings School and in how we train our educators to deliver ECSEL was indicative of the growing recognition at both a state and national level of our need to put in place the requisite support to effectively provide the quality early childhood education that our country so needs.

As the first state to create a department of early education in 2005, Massachusetts is now expressing a similar interest. About ten days ago, the Boston Globe ran a story about House Speaker Bob DeLeo’s efforts around early childhood education. Speaker DeLeo is currently meeting with business leaders to develop a plan on how the state can not only increase access to early education but also improve its quality. A professionalized, well- trained workforce is key to ensuring that we, as a nation and as a state, provide our children the level of excellence that effective early childhood education demands, a need that at last is being given the recognition it deserves.

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