There are many professional organizations that can help literacy experts stay involved in the profession beyond their classroom or school assignment. Students in the spring semester of READ 6325 explored various professional organizations and are sharing what they learned through this blog series.
By Laura A. Garcia
The National Association for the Education of Young Children or NAEYC is a professional organization that promotes excellence in early childhood education by focusing on the quality of educational and developmental services for all children (birth through age 8). It is the largest nonprofit association in the United States representing early childhood education teachers, experts, and advocates in center-based and family day care. For over 80 years, the NAEYC has been publishing a professional journal and books, been actively involved in public policy work, and recently has broadened its work to include national conferences. The association is also well known for accrediting high-quality child care/preschool centers. It is reported that more than 10,000 centers, programs, and schools have earned NAEYC accreditation.
The NAEYC began in the 1920s, when Patty Smith Hill’s concern over the quality of emerging nursery school programs in the United States triggered her to bring together well-known experts in the field to decide how to best ensure the existence of high quality programs. The group met in Washington, DC, and collaborated to create a manual, “Minimum Essentials for Nursery Education”, which set standards and methods of acceptable nursery schools. Three years later, the group formalized the existence of a professional association of nursery school experts named the National Association for Nursery Education (NANE) which later in 1964, changed its name to NAEYC.
NAEYC’s mission is based on three major goals:
- bettering well-qualified practitioners and improving the conditions these professionals work in
- improving early childhood education by working to deliver a high-quality system of supporting early childhood programs
- encouraging excellence in childhood education for all children by constructing an extraordinary, all-around organization of groups and individuals who are committed to promoting excellence in early childhood education for all young children.
The NAEYC publishes Young Children, Teaching Young Children, and sponsors Early Childhood Research Quarterly.
Teaching the Children is a magazine specifically designed for preschool teachers. It is published five times a year and offers teachers practical ideas that can be used in the classroom. The articles included are research-based and discuss best practices in early childhood education which reinforce the accreditation criteria for the NAEYC.
Early Childhood Research Quarterly is a scholarly journal sponsored by NAEYC. Published four times a year, ECRQ contains research on early childhood, early childhood development, theory, and educational practice.
The NAEYC has an annual conference and expo in which early childhood educators, administrators, and researchers come together to discuss the latest practices. It is the largest early childhood conference in the world, and this year will be held in Orlando, Florida on November 2-5. NAEYC also hosts the National Institute for Early Childhood Professional Development, a smaller gathering focused on preparing and mentoring early childhood professionals. The 2011 Institute will be held in Providence, Rhode Island on June 12-15.
Anyone interested in joining the NAEYC should log on to www.naeyc.org . As a member, you will receive:
- 20% discount on hundreds of books, videos, brochures, and posters
- six electronic issues of Young Children
- reduced registration fees at NAEYC sponsored conferences and seminars
- access to the Members Only area of the website
Members joining the NAEYC need to specify their community affiliate group, which allows full benefits of membership in local, state, and regional early childhood organizations. Dues vary by state and community. In our area (South Texas) dues are $135 for the Comprehensive Membership, $100 for Regular Membership, and $90 for a Student Membership. Currently, the NAEYC has over 90,000 members.
In addition to its publications, conferences and videos, the NAEYC offers a program called “Supporting Teachers, Strengthening Families” that is geared towards preventing child abuse and promotes healthy social and emotional development in young children. This program teaches educators how to better communicate with the families of their students. Another important program sponsored by the NAEYC is the “Week of the Young Child”. This is a week- long promotion held every spring that creates public awareness on the importance of early childhood development and education.