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Q&A with AZAEYC President Melissa Busby

Q&A with Melissa Busby

Melissa Busby serves as Board President of the Arizona Association for the Education of Young Children (AzAEYC).

What is the Week of the Young Child™?

Week of the Young Child™ (WOYC) is an annual celebration hosted by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) to raise awareness about the importance of quality early learning. WOYC 2017 takes place from April 24-28. Join us in celebrating WOYC! Follow @AzAEYC on Facebook and Twitter.

How will Arizona participate in WOYC?

Building a strong Arizona depends on how well we protect, nurture, and educate our young children, support their families, and advocate for early childhood educators who work on their behalf. Early education programs, community groups, and First Things First Regional Partnership Councils around the state will be celebrating children and families and spotlighting high-quality programs.

What are some specific ways to celebrate?

NAEYC has shared event ideas to encourage participation nationwide. There is a theme for each day of the week: Music Monday, Tasty Tuesday, Work Together Wednesday, Artsy Thursday, and Family Friday. Each theme focuses on a particular content area with suggestions for celebrating while raising awareness of the importance of quality early experiences. Follow and share with the hashtag #woyc17 on social media to amplify the importance of early learning in Arizona and across the country.

Why is early education so important?

Babies are born learning! The first years of a child’s life are the period of the most rapid brain development and lay the foundation for all future learning. In fact, 90% of a child’s brain development happens before kindergarten. A child’s cognitive, physical, social-emotional, and language and literacy development is built upon relationships with caring adults, positive interactions with peers, and environments that support learning.

Please share about the role that early educators play in our state’s education system.

Early educators are heroes. A well trained early childhood workforce is essential to the success of early learning programs and services for children and families. High quality early childhood education depends on high quality early childhood educators.

Why is the parent/teacher connection so critical for quality early learning experiences?

Strong relationships between families and teachers help support children’s learning and development. NAEYC believes these relationships should be sensitive to family composition, language, and culture; and based on mutual trust and respect.

How can families find out if an early learning program is of high quality?

Since 1985, NAEYC’s national, voluntary accreditation system has set professional standards for early childhood education programs. There are 75 NAEYC Accredited programs in Arizona. To find a program near you or to learn more about what a quality program looks like, visit NAEYC for Families. In addition, Quality First also partners with providers to improve the quality of early learning throughout Arizona. This signature First Things First program offers the tools to help choose child care and preschool settings that meet individual needs.

What about young children who do not attend a formal preschool or child care setting?

Parents are a child’s first and most important teachers — and we know that strong families are the building blocks for a strong society. NAEYC for Families provides a variety of free resources for families and in-home providers. Sign up for newsletter updates on child development, specific tips from experts on a wealth of topics, and new, fresh information on ways to incorporate reading, writing, science and math concepts into a young child’s day. These are excellent tools available to everyone.

How can parents and families spread the word about the importance of accessible, high quality experiences for young children?

NAEYC provides resources to support families and professionals in understanding public policies that support young children. Become a Children’s Champion by signing up to receive updates on pending legislation. Stay informed. By working together, I believe we can deliver on the promise of high-quality early learning for our children, our families, and our communities. Because every child deserves the opportunity for the best start in life.

Angela Mussi is community engagement officer at First Things First.

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