Ethics in Early Childhood

The National Association for the Education of the Young Child ( ) is a leading expert in issues pertaining to early childhood education. They have published numerous guidelines and position statements that inform parents, caregivers, and policy makers of best practices. Among the most comprehensive and useful documents produced by NAEYC is their Code of Ethics. There are several passages within the Code of Ethics that are worth sharing and discussing.


Ethical responsibilities to Children

“Childhood is a unique and valuable stage in the human life cycle. Our paramount responsibility is to provide care and education in settings that are safe, healthy, nurturing, and responsive for each child. We are committed to supporting children’s development and learning; respecting individual differences; and helping children learn to live, play, and work cooperatively. We are also committed to promoting children’s self-awareness, competence, self-worth, resiliency, and physical well-being” (NAEYC, 2005).

As a school director, public policy advocate, and early childhood expert, I feel that my ultimate responsibility in my work is to the children. I can see the results of an intentional and robustly constructed program every day when I observe in the classrooms in my school. These children are problem solving, cooperating, developing independence, building resiliency, and moving at an individual pace. In my advocacy work I want to find ways to bring this type of experience  to as many children as possible.

Ethical Responsibilities to Families

“Families are of primary importance in children’s development. Because the family and the early childhood practitioner have a common interest in the child’s well-being, we acknowledge a primary responsibility to bring about communication, cooperation, and collaboration between the home and early childhood program in ways that enhance the child’s development” (NAEYC, 2005).

I am so fortunate to work at a school with engaged, active and loving parents. We have a parent-led Board of Directors and an incredibly involved network of parent volunteers. They read in the classrooms, they go on field trips, they help us plan events, they paint classrooms, the fix our website, they give us legal advice, they sew curtains, and so much more. The children are so proud of their families and the ways in which their parents contribute. Increasing parent involvement in school is one of the most critical aspects of public policy and administrative practices in education.

Ethical Responsibilities to Colleagues

“In a caring, cooperative workplace, human dignity is respected, professional satisfaction is promoted, and positive relationships are developed and sustained. Based upon our core values, our primary responsibility to colleagues is to establish and maintain settings and relationships that support productive work and meet professional needs. The same ideals that apply to children also apply as we interact with adults in the workplace” (NAEYC, 2005).

When I became a director at my school, I was part of a whole administrative changeover. It was a difficult time for everyone in the community and morale was at an all time low. This was sad for me since I have been with my school since a few months after it opened over ten years ago. I wanted it to be a success and it was so broken. We have worked together as a community to slowly heal old wounds and create new and exciting horizons. We are in a wonderful place now and it is the partnership amongst colleagues that has us in such a great position. I can see how this change is directly benefitting the children and the parents.

Ethical Responsibilities to Community and Society

“Early childhood programs operate within the context of their immediate community made up of families and other institutions concerned with children’s welfare. Our responsibilities to the community are to provide programs that meet the diverse needs of families, to cooperate with agencies and professions that share the responsibility for children, to assist families in gaining access to those agencies and allied professionals, and to assist in the development of community programs that are needed but not currently available. As individuals, we acknowledge our responsibility to provide the best possible programs of care and education for children and to conduct ourselves with honesty and integrity. Because of our specialized expertise in early childhood development and education and because the larger society shares responsibility for the welfare and protection of young children, we acknowledge a collective obligation to advocate for the best interests of children within early childhood programs and in the larger community and to serve as a voice for young children everywhere” (NAEYC, 2005).

This one is especially meaningful to me because I see that education is the answer to society’s woes and there is so much work to be done. We can have the society and community benefit when we have schools that serve the community throughout their work and through the citizens they produce. We have an obligation to society as a whole to design schools that serve a greater good for all and that means we need to produce people capable of doing and thinking, not just replicating. We must act now.


~ by vegucationmama on February 23, 2013.

3 Responses to “Ethics in Early Childhood”

  1. Hi Rebecca,

    Your posted Ethics in Early Childhood is extensive and wonderfully said. I enjoyed reading your comments and I must agree, we must act now. Good luck with your studies at Walden U and you career in Early Child Care.

  2. Hello,
    I want to share a little bit about my involvement in the Head Start program. I was a parent in the program 24 years ago and have been an employee of Community Action Head Start for 20 Years, my role as the Education Coordinator for 10 years. I enjoyed read ing your post and from my involvement I have been an active participant in the many changes that have taken place, some very effective and some not so effective. What has been effective is the teachers that are in our classrooms have a Bachelor`s Degree or an Advanced Degree in Early Childhood Education which has made a difference in providing comprehensive services, the problem is they are not paid enough and we are loosing them to the public schools.Due to the many demands of the Head Start Performance Standards and providing services in accordance with the Head Start Act of 2007 research shows that the gains in certain areas of development are very low. When looking at the data from Creative Curriculum and the CLASS ( Classroom Assessment Scoring System) as a program we are falling short in some areas that are critical to School Readiness.I see a trend when going to many National Training`s that ongoing need for Professional Development is very important, the lack of time needed for planning( due to all of the required paperwork), to many responsibilities take away from the intentional need to teach each child in preparing them for school and so on. As a program we are very responsive to each child and family`s ethnic, cultural, and linguistic heritage and we do emphasize the role of the parent`s as their child`s first and most important teacher but we need to find the causes of why some aspects of the program are not working and fix it before it is to late. I believe in the program 100% but the demands are taking away from being a federal program that promotes school readiness for children birth to 5.

    • Hi Becky-
      Thank you for this thoughtful reply. I always felt that one of the great strengths of the Head Start program at which I worked was our ability to be supportive to the families and culturally responsive to their history, language, and food. I learned a lot.

      My school participated in a pilot CLASS assessment in two of our classrooms. It was interesting to get the feedback they offered that is so different from the typical licensing or environmental rating scale feedback I am typically used to.

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