Teacher Appreciation Week: Why We Should All Be Thanking Early Childhood Teachers!
by Elise Keitz, VP of Operations
Heartfelt appreciation for early childhood educators has never been more important. Before the pandemic, caretaking for and teaching young children was difficult and underpaid work. Now when studies say that women in the workforce have been set back by a generation and the average childcare worker in America makes $10 an hour, we see how important quality childcare is to our economy and the fragility of the current system.
Childcare Workers Not Recognized as Essential
Throughout the pandemic, early childhood educators have continued to work in their physical locations providing care for the children of essential workers. And yet, they were not always considered essential workers themselves. Our childcare teachers were turned away from many fast food and local establishments that offered takeaway or lunch discounts to essential workers this time last year. It’s hard to have pride in your work when the gravity of your contribution goes unrecognized.
It’s Hard Work! Why Do They Stay?
In our industry, we talk a lot about why teachers leave childcare, but not much about why they stay. We believe that early childhood teachers stay because they:
- believe children are the future
- have a supportive Center Director who cares about them
- work in a flexible environment that allows them to bring their children to work for care
- enjoy seeing children grow
- maintain an appropriate work-life balance
- have passion for the company’s core values and mission
- feel appreciated (a key currency of dignity)!
As we kick off Teacher Appreciation Week on May 3, let’s challenge ourselves to step up to recognize and elevate the status of the childcare worker in our country. We have teachers with Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees who could be making much more money in another industry. We have teachers who have worked in their classrooms for 20 years or more. A new generation of childcare teachers are learning and considering what career path is worthy of their time and hard work. We hope we can win over those who are unsure. Our industry depends on it.
Big and Small Recognition
There is much more advocacy ahead to ensure that our local, state, and national governments recognize early childhood teachers in sustainable ways. States are still parsing out how to distribute the $39 billion in child care relief provided by the American Rescue Plan in March. Yet, some of the best change comes in small interactions. We can all dignify those in this industry by recognizing how essential they are.
THANK YOU, Early Childhood Educators. We recognize you and appreciate you. And happy Teacher Appreciation Week!