Fabled mighty warriors in the African Masai tribe surprisingly greet other warriors by asking, “and how are the children?” This traditional greeting among the Masai, acknowledges the high value placed on their children’s well-being. The return greeting and answer is, “All the children are well.”
April, the Month of the Young Child, is a good time to ask, “How are the children?” In Iowa, 75 percent of the households with children under the age of six have all available parents in the workforce (U.S. Census). That means the majority of children under school age are in child care.
How are the children? Do they have caring teachers trained to offer developmentally appropriate activities in an inclusive, interactive, play-based, culturally diverse learning environment? Does their program recognize each child’s unique temperament, learning style and developmental needs? Do the children have a language-rich curriculum including reading, music, art, math, science, indoors and outside? Does the staff foster a positive self, empathy toward others, cooperation with peers and sense of belonging?
Our community has many dedicated home and center-based child care professionals who deserve our respect and appreciation. Beyond our admiration, child care programs need to be adequately funded. All children deserve quality early care and education. Ask our legislative leaders and those running for office how they intend to invest in the education of children 0-5 years of age. Will their answer be, “all the children are well”?