Time Well Spent

This is an end to a chapter in my life but it is also a key for a new one! This studying journey has ended only to open new doors and opportunities for me. It was also a great way to create a community of people from different parts of the world; to discuss issues with and to learn from.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank my colleagues, Dr. Darragh Ernst, and all my other professors for their support. The feedback, comments, and the interactions we had helped me understand a lot and helped me become the person I am today. I appreciate my colleagues’ and professors’ understanding of different issues. For example, when we all started sharing our biases, no one was judging. We all expressed and discussed in a respectful manner.

I really cannot believe that this program is over, it wasn’t too long ago that I started reading the APA manual. It felt so hard and I was overwhelmed by the amount of information and instructions. I couldn’t navigate through the blackboard and all the assignments, but eventually, I did. I learned that we are all able to learn something new. All we need is practice, reading, and persistence. There is nothing we cannot do; nothing is impossible if you are determined!

 

As many of you already know, I majored in Graphic Design and worked at it for years. I had a change in heart and ventured into education. The degree at Walden really helped me in improving my skills as an educator. It also taught me how to become an advocate and a voice for children. Just like it’s stated on the website, a master’s in early childhood studies, really helped me “gain a deeper understanding of how to help prepare young minds through study and experience” (Walden University, n.d.).

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I gained a lot of knowledge and perspective with regards to diversity and children. Diversity is more than just people with different colors who speak different languages. Children are individuals that need to be given a great deal of attention but also we should not think of them individually. Their families and their environments should be considered part of them and their development.

My goal is to become the advocate I dream of becoming every day. I always say I want to make education better in my country, I want all children to have access to proper education and proper healthcare.

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This week was an amazing one for so many reasons:

-I submitted my final paper (a milestone)

-Saudi Arabia appointed its first Saudi female ambassador (another milestone, but on a national level)

-It was my birthday

-I achieved so much at work the past week

All of those great things gave me hope that we can and we will be able to make a difference in the world for our children.

I really do hope that all of our goals become true and that we all overcome our challenges. We are all advocates for children and with our determination, we can help them and their families.

Thank you again and I really hope that our paths cross and we get to meet one day.

Reference:

Walden University. (n.d.). MS in Early Childhood Studies. Retrieved from https://www.waldenu.edu/online-masters-programs/ms-in-early-childhood-studies

Jobs/Roles in the ECE Community: Internationally

Save the Children

Job: Director, Entertainment and Influencer Relations

The job appealed to me is with a non-government organization, Save the Children and is far from previous and current experience. However, the Entertainment and Influencer Relations had recently been affected by the great development of means such as social media. I believe that entertainment is one of the most effective methods of communication to children that will add to their learning experience and allow them the comfort to interact throughout the process. Additionally, when all that is coupled with having the child’s role model (hero) represented by an influencer in the learning process, it amplifies the results of their experience that could have a substantial impact on their development. Much like my personal experience with the known organization “Sesame Street”, where it had portrayed many of the greatest influencers in my time affecting all the children in my generation.

The opening was posted very recently and according to the online webpage, it is still available. However, there is a set of skills that I am yet to acquire prior to meeting the role’s expectations. First, it is crucial for me to design and carry on campaigns independently for my success in this role. Additionally, I am expected to develop a better network in the target industry. Furthermore, I also need more experience with the target demographic group in that part of the country as my experience has entirely been international.

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https://www.savethechildren.org

 

Defense for Children International

Job: Communications and Fundraising Officer

This organization had appealed to me due to its mission of protecting the children’s rights across many nations. Although the role has limited interaction with the children, the cause and goals of the position improve the opportunities for all children around the world. The currently available position is highly related to my current and previous experience; however, the scope and expectations are greater due to the nature of the organization’s operations. On one hand, the role is focused on increasing the organization’s footprint and presence especially with the agile environment we live in today, this would lead to the second objective of fundraising to improve the quality of children’s lives around the globe.

I will need to enhance some of my skills in addition to acquiring new skills to meet the role’s objectives. First, I need developmental training in the concept of fundraising concepts and principles. Additionally, I also require global communication training to reach to the maximum target investors and beneficiaries. On the other hand, I will require to be made aware of the mechanisms of the United Nations and meet the minimum requirements of the communication languages.

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https://defenceforchildren.org

 

International Society for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (ISPCAN)

Working Group that can act as a community of practice

This role had appealed to me due to the direct impact on children protection through international stakeholders. They presented topics are extremely critical for children’s rights to have the optimum environment for development and nurture. The opportunity is open for many crucial topics catering to my passion and ability to capitalize on my experience. The set of skills are not clearly identified but the following are extremely critical to perform the tasks. First, strong communication skills in all forms. Additionally, teamwork with diverse backgrounds and ethnic groups is also a major requirement. Furthermore, short-term and strategic planning must be developed to ensure proper actions are carried out properly.

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https://www.ispcan.org/

 

Jobs/Roles in the ECE Community: National/Federal Level

One of the National organizations I would like to work for is King Khalid Foundation (KKF). KKF is a leader in conducting research and providing solutions to critical socio-economic challenges in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. “KKF’s Research programs have been highly recognized and include research on “Women and Child Abuse Prevention Law” which has been adopted by the Government of Saudi Arabia” (King Khalid Foundation, n.d.). Research about children can be a great resource in learning about the root problems and coming up with innovative solutions. In order to work in a research center, I need to be familiar with research skills that I have learned in EDUC 6163 Building Research and go further into research. Basing my studies on evidence and research is critical.

p.s. The English website is still not fully inclusive of everything that is on the Arabic website.

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Tatweer is a governmental entity in the field of education development (Tatweer Co. for Educational Services, n.d.). They provide solutions to improve on education to meet the 21st century needs. I would like to work with the team that improves education within the early childhood sector. Some of the services they offer in that area are: “creating visual and printed educational programs for parents and stakeholders to support children’s growth, providing educational consultancy and development services for kindergartens and nurseries, improvement of educational practices at kindergartens, and professional development for caregivers, teachers and educational leaders at kindergartens. My degree as an anti-bias educator will help me understand the material that needs to be included in an early childhood setting and what kind of curriculum will help nurture open minded diverse children.

UNICEF is one of the organizations I would really like for because they “promote the rights of every child, everywhere, in everything the organization does in programs, in advocacy, and in operations” (UNICEF, n.d.). the available job I found in UNICEF within my region is an Administrative Assistant. This job requires a lot of administrative skills, facilitating contracts, and filling invoices which are things that I need to work on. The other part of this job that I would be eager to work on is liaising events and conferences that concern children. Through these conferences and events, I can get to meet influential people in the field which will add to my circle of people within the early childhood people.

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References:

King Khalid Foundation. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.kkf.org.sa/ar/Pages/default.aspx

Tatweer Co. for Educational Services. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.t4edu.com/en

UNICEF. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.unicef.org/about/employ/?job=519419

Exploring Roles in the ECE Community: Local and State Levels

The first organization that appealed to me was Al-Nahda Society, a women empowerment organization that supports women in different ways. From my perspective, one of the most important ways they provide support to women is by educating them about their parenting through Mother and Child workshops. Through this organization, I can have access to the women I would like to get information and support from.

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Their website is:

https://www.alnahda.org/about/

The second organization that appealed to me is the Child Care Association (CCA). CCA is a nonprofit organization that offers services in the field of early childhood. The reason I chose this organization is that they empower parents and professionals in helping children from 0-8. Their mission is to provide a safe nonbiased environment for children and raise awareness within the community.

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They also have a YouTube channel:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCaxo3H_Pd1oM13fzkHRcR-Q

 

The third organization I chose was Act adult and child therapy center. The reason I chose this organization is that they provide different services to children and parents including parenting and life coaching. Through them, I would also like to understand from psychologists how some children have been affected by the culture in their upbringing.

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This is their website:

http://www.actjeddah.com

 

One of the jobs I am interested in is being on the National Transformation Program 2020 for education within the Ministry of Education in Saudi Arabia. One of the tasks this team is responsible, which I mostly interested in, developing and updating the current curriculum and policies for KG up until grade 3. This will help me a lot in changing some stereotypes in the culture that really affect the images children have about gender roles and other issues within my culture.

Another job that interests me is designing and developing workshops for CCA. The skills I need to develop in order to become a trainer is to have a lot of knowledge about the topic I am giving the workshop for. Also, I need to be able to plan a workshop and use different media to keep the trainees interested and engaged.

Finally, I would like to venture into social work, therefore, I would like to be a social worker in the school I used to work for. In order to be able to do so, I will also need a degree in psychology or sociology.

Impacts on Early Emotional Development

For my future? I have a lot of hopes….

I really hope that I can become a committed anti-bias educator to help children reach their full potential and become respectful to the people around them. I hope that my relationship with families becomes as strong as it is with children. I hope that I can become an advocate for children in general and anti-bias work in particular. I also hope that someday inclusion becomes mandatory in the school in my region. I hope that when this happens, I become part of this change and this improvement.

I feel that my brain is full of hopes, I am overwhelmed… I cannot believe it is already the end of yet another course, it was a great journey!! I learned a lot and grew a lot. Therefore, I would like to thank Dr. Trevino Meyer and my colleagues for their support and their insightful feedback. As an educator, I cannot do this alone; I need allies (Laureate Education, 2011). You all have been allies and supporters. So thank you again and I really wish you a great future ahead.

 

References:

Laureate Education, Inc. (2011). Strategies for working with diverse children: Your commitment to anti-bias work. Baltimore, MD: Author

Impacts on Early Emotional Development

I chose to explore Syria because it located so close to where I live and I have met a lot of families who left Syria. The Syrian crisis has been going on for eight years now.

“More than 5.6 million people, including 2.7 million children” have been living in refugee camps in various countries (UNICEF, n.d.). The children there are faced with so many challenges in different aspects of their lives. Children of Syria have no access to proper healthcare. According to (UNICEF, 2018), 3.4 million children need health assistance. Outbreaks have been triggered due to the decline in National routine immunization coverage (90% in 2010 to 70% in 2017). Also, half of the healthcare centers in Syria are either not functioning or partially functioning. Access to clean water is also an issue for them which is caused by heavy infrastructure damage.

The poverty rate has increased from 34% pre-crisis to 70%. When I say poverty, I mean extreme poverty (less than US $ 1.90 per day). Access to food is also an issue which also leads to children as young as three years of age to work or beg to lessen their acute food insecurity.

UNICEF Image: A child is checked for severe acute malnutrition in Syria.

A child is checked by a health professional for severe acute malnutrition in East Ghouta, October 2017. UNICEF and partners treated more than 7,000 children in Syria for severe acute malnutrition in 2017.

Additionally, more than 2 million school-age children are out-of-school (36%) because one in three schools cannot be used, whether because they are “damaged, destroyed or sheltering displaced families or used for military purposes” (UNICEF, 2018).

UNICEF and other organizations are trying to assist children in Syria but at times, humanitarian assistance remains extremely difficult. This is because of “active conflict, insecurity, restriction of movement, removal of items from humanitarian convoys and the imposition of burdensome administrative procedures” (UNICEF, 2018).

As a result of all of these issues, millions of children there were born and raised in a place that has no peace. They are suffering from psychosocial distress due to the everyday war life they are experiencing.

Most would think that all of the abovementioned experiences result in emotional distress to the growing children in such conditions, however, studies have shown some positive results. For example, and as discussed by (Macksoud, Lawrence Aber, 1996), children who were separated from their parents during the war in Lebanon and experienced violence were reported to have a better prosocial behavior. This is mainly attributed to two main factors; first, their experience with a culture that is focused on survival through groups activities, and second, the fact that they grow up striving to improve the surrounding unfortunate situation.

On the other hand, children who were separated from their parents were found more depressed. This was mainly attributed to the lack of guidance and a sense of reassurance as they don’t have the experience to handle such severe conditions.

 

After going through those articles that highlighted experiences children are faced with and the positive and negative impacts, I realize how much children are sensitive to the surrounding environment. Wars harm children in extreme ways but some children show great levels of resilience. As an educator, I need to always have hope in all children. A hope that they will become resilient and stand up for any challenges or adversities, no matter what it was. When children are faced with difficulties, our role is to become supporters for them because we might be the reason they are able to turn around their future.

References:

Macksoud, M., Lawrence Aber, J. (1996). The War Experiences and psychosocial development of children in Lebanon. Retrieved from https://eds-b-ebscohost-com.ezp.waldenulibrary.org/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=3&sid=ce5ba350-c694-455e-a9fd-7049be3f5755%40pdc-v-sessmgr03

UNICEF. (2018). UNICEF’s response to the Syria crisis. Retrieved from https://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/files/2018-04_-_UNICEF_response_to_the_Syria_Crisis.pdf

UNICEF. (2011). Retrieved from: http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/

 

The Sexualization of Early Childhood

It’s not like I never heard stories like these, but I was really shocked by some of the incidents that were addressed in this week’s book excerpt, So sexy so soon.

There are so many songs that we unintentionally sing and never notice any kind of sexualization in it. The song, Havana is an example that adults and children sang without realizing the lyrics to it:

He didn’t walk up with that “how you doin’?” (uh)
(When he came in the room)
He said there’s a lot of girls I can do with (uh)
(But I can’t without you)

I have to admit; this song was stuck in my head for so long. In addition to my daughters, my students, and everyone around me. there’s also another song that my daughter heard and we all enjoyed listening to.. New rules:

One: Don’t pick up the phone
You know he’s only callin’ ’cause he’s drunk and alone
Two: Don’t let him in
You’ll have to kick him out again
Three: Don’t be his friend
You know you’re gonna wake up in his bed in the morning
And if you’re under him, you ain’t gettin’ over him

I can think of so many songs that promote sexualization as well.

Additionally, children, including my daughter and students have started reading books such as Wimpy kid, and cupcake diaries…etc. My daughter reads cupcake diaries which is a series that talks about four girls who have a cupcake business. When I asked my daughter to tell me about one of the characters, she told me about Emma. She said: “Emma is a model and the store she models in, takes cupcakes and she’s a girly girl. She has three brothers. Her family is obsessed with sports….. She likes to wear dresses and likes pink. She’s really girly even though she comes from a family that loves sports.” This is probably one of the reasons why my daughter went through the phase of wanting to model and dress up nicely.

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Last year, I had a girl who dressed like a teenage girl and never wore sneakers to school. The way she took care of herself and dressed did not mirror a 6-year old. She also developed other problems that demonstrated a lot of sexuality. When we spoke to her mother, it turns out she did have a  problem and she always wanted to dress like her older sisters.

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“The sexualization of childhood is having a profoundly disturbing impact on children’s understanding of gender, sexuality, and relationships” (). Children are affected by the images depicted in books, movies, and the media in general in a way that makes them have self-doubt. They can believe that they are not good enough because they don’t fit a certain criterion, or look like a certain person. My younger daughter always asks me to make her hair like Elsa or Anna. To her, this is what looks pretty. I always try to convince her to use different terms. For example, I prefer calling her hair-dos cupcakes, and lollipop…etc. I connect the hair with something she likes and something she wants to be. When children focus on sexual messages, I bring their attention to something else. For example, when my daughter told me about Emma in Cupcake diaries, I asked her about her actual personality. She told me that she is kind and she has a dog-walking job.

Pointing fingers and blaming the parents is not a solution. Media has made it harder for the parents and teachers to overcome this problem. Working collaboratively is surely a great way of resolving it. as a teacher, it is very important for me to listen to children and never ignore what they say. Ignoring those remarks means it is ok for them to do or say over and over. Reacting positively to these remarks is important so children know that you are an ally not against them.

References:

Levin, D. E., & Kilbourne, J. (2009). [Introduction]. So sexy so soon: The new sexualized childhood and what parents can do to protect their kids (pp. 1-8). New York: Ballantine Books. Retrieved from: http://dianeelevin.com/sosexysosoon/introduction.pdf

 

 

Evaluating Impacts on Professional Practice

If, as a teacher, if I experienced specific “–ism(s)” in my own life, I presume I might be frustrated and feeling helpless at times which can affect my relationship with children and families. This is because my own life is disrupted and affected by those prejudice actions from outside people. For example, if I have faced religion-ism, as I have in the past, I might get feelings of anger toward families who have the same kind of perception about other families with different religions. It will bring back the feelings of injustice I have experienced as a form of rage against the families showing bias.

On the other hand, I believe that sometimes this kind of feeling might help me become more empathetic with families who experience –isms in general. It can also turn me into an ally to this cause and feeling determined to help families and children understand anti-bias education.

Every experience we live can become positive and negative. Even as adults we can demonstrate resilience toward any adversity we face. We can turn around any difficulty we experience into an opportunity for change.

Observing Communication

The observation I conducted was in an airport, in front of the departure gate where I was waiting to head back home.

I observed a mother and a child who could be around three years of age. The child was sitting in a stroller and chatting with his mother. He was telling her things that I could not sound out. His mother kept replying back but she did not give him full attention, as she was looking at her phone. Then the boy was talking a little louder than he did before and his mother got closer and told him something but he did not stop speaking loudly. After a while, his mother gave him her phone and he was playing with it. Every few minutes, the boy talked to his mom and she replied back with a word or two. Later, he was completely focused on the phone and stopped talking to his mom. After some time, the mother took her phone and was again looking at it. The boy stood up and wrapped his arm around her and just looking at her phone. A few minutes later, he sat on the floor with his head on the seating area, that’s when I had to go to my gate.

In an airport environment, adults are generally in a hurry to catch a flight or tired from a connecting flight…etc. Therefore, I expect that the mother is not giving her son full attention. Children, in general, need an interested adult to engage in a conversation with them; to exchange ideas and share feelings. The phone is one of the tools that kill this interaction. if the mother is using the phone, she will not give her child full attention. Even if she was listening, the child will still know that she is not listening with an openness. The boy seemed more interested in talking to his mother than her engaging in a conversation with him. Bringing things with her, such as books, can help aid their conversations and communication. She could have used even the boarding pass to tell ask him what he thought this was and where he thinks the seat number is.

“It is easy for listening to become just one more task that a busy teacher must tend to” but really listening to a child is quite a challenge (Stephenson, 2009, 90). This sometimes happened in the classroom, especially when a child wants to share something while I am on duty watching the children during recess. I do try to give each child complete attention when they are speaking to me, asking them questions, and engaging fully in the conversation. I also try to go down to their level so the communication is less stressful for the child. As a teacher and as a mother, I sometimes fail to listen to the child when distracted by something else.

 

Referemces:

Stephenson, A. (2009). Conversations with a 2-year-old. YC: Young Children, 64(2), 90-95.

Creating Affirming Environments

If I were to open my own Family Child Care Home, there are many things I should take into considerations in terms of material and practices. Everything I provide in my own center must be with the purpose to support diverse children and their families (Laureate Education, 2011).

The first impressions and the first things that happen to you in the morning determine how your day will go. Therefore, and inspired by Adriana’s practices, I will start by greeting children at the entrance in the morning where the separation from parents take place (Laureate Education, 2011). This will help ease the transition to the child and the family. Additionally, I will have pictures of the families of all the children in the center. Of course, in my culture, some women do not accept having their pictures hung up in public spaces. Therefore, I could have more than just pictures; things that represent them, their culture, and who they are. Moreover, I will have space for all families to meet, gather, get to know one another. This is particularly important because it helps them to feel part of the program and for them to share ideas and their own perspectives. The space I provide must be inviting and relaxing for the parents to be in. It could also have the pictures or items from different families they have shared. The items could change monthly so we get to know more about them and what new is happening in their lives (Laureate Education, 2011).

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Also, I loved the idea of the whiteboard in Adriana’s center where she asks parents to share updates about them and ideas they have. This way they can get to know each other more and have an understanding of what that family is going through. Looking at other people’s pictures, items, and new will stir up conversations and show them the other side of people. Show them things that they might actually have in common.

There also so many materials that I can provide as a support for diverse children. For example, the dolls, art, toys, games, equipment, and pictures should reflect all the children, families and staff in the center (Derman-Sparks & Olsen Edwards, 2010). The art supplies also can become a great support in that area. The multicultural construction paper, crayons and even wiggle eyes will give the child the chance to create their own selves and family members. Besides purchasing books that address different bias topics, I can also create books with the children in my center that reflect their own lives and families (Derman-Sparks & Olsen Edwards, 2010).

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Most importantly, through listening and observing, I need to know what children are trying to tell me about their needs. Materials and visuals, family and children interactions and relationships, and the curriculum all come hand in hand in creating an anti-bias education. Always stay up to date in terms of children, families, and education because “we never finish to learn in this area” (Laureate Education, 2011).

References:

Derman-Sparks, L., & Olsen Edwards, J. (2010). Anti-bias education for young children and ourselves. Washington, D.C.: National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).

Laureate Education, Inc. (2011). Strategies for working with diverse children: Welcome to an anti-bias learning community. Baltimore, MD: Author