Hi, I’m Christine lux I’m an assistant professor of Early Childhood Education and Child Services. And as a teacher educator, one of the things I’m so excited about this year is getting to travel with some of our undergraduate students to rural
communities. So really building on the really successful rural practicum that our Department of Education has established. And one of the real needs in early childhood education is finding quality infant, toddler care. So we have identified a program in West Yellowstone that is a wonderful opportunity for our students to get to see a rural place but also to see quality infant, toddler, and preschool care as they start to think about some of their careers and opportunities in our profession, but I’m super excited about it. It’s a nice way of bringing our undergraduate students together with professionals who are out in our community and a great way for our departments to collaborate, again building on the success of the rural practicum model, which has been really really exciting. So we start to see how children have benefited from early childhood education We see those long-term social, emotional, and cognitive gains much later on. Another project that I’m working on with the state is looking at that first cohort of children who attended preschool as part of the Preschool Development grant. Those children are now third graders, So they’ll participate in statewide assessments and we can look at some connections perhaps, and start to understand where some of the cognitive changes are but then also we’re really interested in talking to teachers. Has there been a change to notice when children have attended preschool and have been supported and systemically the family has been engaged as well How does that translate to those early primary grades? And thinking cognitively so much is happening in that birth to eight period of time in early childhood that we’re hoping to really take a really close. Look at this first group of children who we can now study longitudinally which is really exciting. All children have the same basic needs and all children and families should have access to high-quality early care and education. And that means that we need to better prepare our early childhood professionals and our staff and so from my lens as a teacher educator, I really think about what does that look like? How do we engage families and how do we help children and families feel supported? That’s something that we really hold dear in early childhood, is that learning is happening in every opportunity, every interaction and it’s that relationship building and really engaging caretakers and families that really makes the difference over time. In speaking with some of our partners and collaborators in our valley but then also across the state those changes again have been to thinking about parents who are struggling and just thinking about how do we access early care and education in ways that make it possible for parents to stay in the workforce and contribute to our economy. A lot of statewide initiatives happening around workforce development and workplace development, developing some family-friendly policies. Early childhood education has a strong voice in that conversation as well.