Early Childhood Professional Development – What It Is and Why It Matters

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Oct 26

Early Childhood Professional Development - what it is and why it matters

We all know that professional development is important for us individually and collectively as teams in our services.This article covers the basics and goes further to help you harness the benefits of professional development by answering some frequently asked questions:

What is professional development?

Sometimes we have a preconception about professional development and assume that it is another term for a workshop or training course but it goes beyond that.  Professional development is actually the continuing process by which early childhood services and early childhood professionals individuals improve their skills and knowledge. Often professional development also crosses over to personal development as well, they are closely related. The end goal of professional development is to improve the quality of education, care and programs that we provide for children and their families.

What types of activities or resources are suitable for professional development?

Professional development needs to suit the needs of each service and individual. Here are some activities and resources that you could consider:

  • Workshops - in house or external
  • Short Courses
  • Accredited Qualifications
  • Conferences
  • Podcasts
  • Webinars
  • Videos
  • Online Training Modules
  • Professional conversations with early childhood peers and leaders
  • One to one mentoring or consulting
  • Read books, professional websites or online resources
  • On the job training
  • Staff meeting discussions
  • Visits to other early childhood services
  • Reflection
  • Research
  • Professional associations
  • Networking - in person or online
  • Coaching programs
  • Guest speakers

Why is professional development important?

Asides from the obvious need to continually improve the quality of our program and provide high quality education for children, the early childhood sector experiences constant change and growth. These changes mean that we need to be adaptable and to continually learn and improve. Importantly, professional development is not only the way we learn but the way we can gain the support we need professionally and personally.

What are the benefits of professional development?

It would be hard to list them all but here’s some of the benefits:

  • Keep up to date with regulations, theories and research
  • Improves staff retention reducing the need to recruit and induct new staff
  • Be a lifelong learner and model lifelong learning for those around us
  • Create a service or workplace where staff are confident and experience a sense of purpose in their work
  • Be able to capably and professionally contribute to the development of your own practice and that of your service
  • A strong sense of personal and professional satisfaction
  • A deeper understanding of the value of the education that we provide as individual practitioners and as services
  • Ongoing motivation and enthusiasm to keep developing ourselves and others

What is the director or manager’s role in professional development?

Leaders in services play an crucial role in developing their teams and making sure that they have the required skills and knowledge. Directors role model attitudes and cultures around professional development, they create professional development plans for themselves, individual practitioners and their service, they budget for professional development and they create rosters that allow time for professional development. Most importantly, directors plan so that the strategies and learning from professional development activities is actually implemented and informs and improves the service.

Find out more

If you’d like more information about professional development or need help planning professional development for your service, contact us here at Excellence Matters.

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