A watershed of knowledge about how very young children learn and develop has been revealed through the science of child development. The science of child development has demonstrated that immediately from birth, babies need supportive relationships and responsive environments in order to build strong brain circuits and lay the foundations for both physical and mental health. Increasingly very young children (under three years of age) in the United States depend on early childhood teachers for their care and education. Studies of early childhood teacher preparation programs, that focused on preparing teachers of children from birth to grade three, have found that pre-service students may not take even one course about infants and toddlers (birth to three years of age) or that the coverage of infants and toddlers is marginalized within the curriculum. This post-intentional phenomenological study (Vagle, 2014) examined the phenomena of how infant and toddler content might take shape in bachelor’s degree (BA/BS) programs that offer Early Childhood teacher (birth to grade three) licensure in Minnesota. The phenomenon was studied though investigating the experiences of six faculty members who teach courses about infants and toddlers and seven staff members of university-sponsored child development centers who host students in their classrooms as an infant or toddler practicum connected to the courses taught by the faculty. Findings from this study are depicted through six tentative manifestations of the phenomenon: Swimming against the Current, Complexity, Un-like, Mentoring Students, Perspectives on Parents and Beyond Standards. The tentative manifestations were produced as a synthesis of the experience of faculty and staff: attending to the Minnesota Board of Teaching’s Early Childhood Teacher Preparation Standards (87100:3000); in dialogue with participants’ personal preparation, experiences, beliefs, and convictions; in consideration of the demographics of the pre-service students; and in response to current information and issues within early childhood education. This research contributes to an understanding of how infant toddler content took shape in five early childhood teacher preparation programs and also yielded significant practical implications for teaching pre-service teacher candidates about infants and toddlers.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. May 2016. Major: Education, Curriculum and Instruction. Advisor: Mark Vagle. 1 computer file (PDF); viii, 222 pages.
Too Important to Ignore: A Post-Intentional Phenomenological Investigation of Teaching Pre-Service Early Childhood Teachers About Infants and Toddlers.
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