The ECE landscape circa 2019 is ancient history—Covid shifted the baseline, and what was relevant back then has already started gathering dust.
The old ways may be dead, but we’re still muddling through, and with opportunities for growth starting to emerge (think: boosts for technology, social emotional learning and community connections), many early childhood pros are starting to think about what comes next.
ECE expert and author Cindy Terebush explains: “Many people—children, families, early childhood professionals, and administrators—have experienced a trauma and we can't just go back like it can be erased... We need to reflect, determine what worked and what needs more consideration for the future.”
From the way we communicate to the tools we use, there are a whole lot of outdated processes ready-and-waiting to be brought into the 21st century—so if you’re ready to take a leap of faith and work towards a better future, these four trends are the best place to start.
The Covid pandemic shone the spotlight on the importance of social-emotional learning (SEL)—for children, parents and employees.
David Adams, Director of SEL at NYC’s Urban Assembly, told us in a recent interview: “If our school systems are going to be relevant in 2020, in 2030 and 2050, in terms of the problems that our societies are facing, they need to be concerned about social-emotional development and the social fabric of our nation.”
As ECE centers embrace distance learning as part of the new normal, SEL is something that needs to run in tandem with digital transformation, to make sure human practices stay firmly at the center of new technologies.
“Our schools don't just exist to make sure students can read, our schools are extensions of society itself… I would teach SEL even if it had no impact on learning whatsoever. These concepts are important enough that if there were no academic gains from social emotional learning, I still think it'd be one of the most important things schools do,” said David.
With the ongoing inequity challenges in the education space, supporting teachers, families and children needs to remain at the top of every ECE business’s agenda.
One of the major silver-linings from 2020 is the global realization that our communities are one of the most important things we have.
Thanks to the rise in video conferencing, we’ve all had the chance to see into our colleagues’ homes (and even meet their cats 😻)—but moving forward, ECE leaders need to do more to bring their communities together and continue the ‘getting-to-know-you’ vibes into 2021.
Here are a few top tips to strengthen your ECE community:
Covid highlighted many businesses’ flaws, from outdated policies to non-existent guidelines.
Once your foundations are in place, use a smart child care management app (we can think of one that fits the bill 😉) to take all your paperwork digital and start automating reports. The less screens and systems employees have to log in/out of each day, the more time they’ll have to connect with children and families.
Digital transformation is one of the rare trends that has gained momentum since Covid hit.
The increased reliance on tech has shown ECE leaders all the super relevant reasons to invest in smart tools.
In a recent MomentPath article, Dr. Erica Vernold Miller, CEO at Professor Patty Cake Consulting, told us, “If the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent shutdowns have shown schools/early childhood education centers anything, it’s the need to quickly adapt their practices to digital platforms.”
“ECE parents, like most consumers, desire—and in the current situation, require—learning/communication/enrollment/payment, etc. to happen online. Some schools and ECE programs have resisted embracing technology and, in the past, could do so with few repercussions. But unfortunately, they no longer have the luxury of doing so. These schools and ECE centers must adapt digitally or risk becoming extinct,” explained Erica.
In other words, this is a once-in-a-lifetime chance for ECE centers to wipe the slate clean and invest in more streamlined working practices.
There’s no denying the Covid pandemic has shifted our existing social, business and learning paradigms.
But despite these massive industry trend U-turns,the ECE community has tackled each challenge with grace and gumption—and now it’s time to look to the future.
From investing in shiny new tools to focusing on social emotional practices for all, there are tons of ways to grab hold of the ‘new normal’ and make the best out of a tough situation.
We may not be going back to business as usual, but as long as we continue to work together, the opportunities for growth are huge.
Check out the MomentPath blog for more resources on how to future-proof your early learning business.