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Week of the Young Child

April 2-8, we celebrate Week of the Young Child (WOYC). WOYC is an annual celebration sponsored by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). The focus of WOYC is to bring attention the needs of young children and their families and to recognize the many early childhood programs, services, and professionals that meet those needs.

This year we are highlighting our very own Early Childhood Education graduate student, Khadijah Williams. Khadijah is a second-year graduate student and will be graduating in May. Khadijah is currently a network consultant at Child360 where she helps to increase quality through mentoring teachers. After graduation she will continue her work as an advocate for social justice in early childhood education, ensuring an equitable educational experience for all children, and further developing my social justice program connecting young children and law enforcement. Read our conversation with Khadijah to learn more about early childhood education. 

In your own words what is Early Childhood Education and how does CSUN’s M.A. Early Childhood Education prepare future professionals?

To me, Early Childhood Development is the foundation for further education and socialization. It’s where children develop the language, skills, knowledge, and behavior that will guide their choices later on in life. During the early years is when connections are formed in the child’s brain that last forever.

CSUN’s M.A. program not only prepares early childhood professionals with practical knowledge that they can directly use in the field with children and families, but the program also challenges you to think outside the box, follow your heart, and create change. It challenges you to be an innovative and passionate leader.  

 

How important is music to the development of young children? How do you use music while working with young children?

I love music! Children can learn so much through music. Besides concrete concepts such as math and literacy, music is great for socialization, connection, and celebrating culture! When I was a classroom pre-k teacher, we used music to build routines, teach patterns, increase language use and just DANCE! The children always loved music and movement as it provided them with an outlet to freely express themselves!

 

With the rise in childhood obesity and with COVID here to stay, fostering a healthy lifestyle for our young children has never been more important than it is today. What are some simple, realistic, tips for busy families to encourage healthy nutrition and fitness habits for their young children at home?

Some of the ways that children and families can stay healthy in these unpredictable times is to create simple routines that are fun and engaging for the whole family. Weekly routines like “FIT Friday” or “Walk Wednesday” can help families stay on track and remain accountable for their own health. Pair vegetables and other healthy options with their favorite healthy snacks like fruit, raisins, and nuts. Invite children to help you prepare family meals and encourage them to try new foods along the way.

One thing my son and I have started doing is GARDENING! I find that he is more willing to try the vegetables he helped grow. As a plus, it gets us from in front of the TV to enjoying the great outdoors!

Khadijah Williams’ son Noah and his best friend Christopher, both age 6, gardening. 

 

What are your go to building toys and what are some of your favorite re-purposed building toys (i.e. couch cushions, Tupperware, empty boxes, etc.). Can you describe an impressive creation from one of the children you have worked with?

Children love to build! It encourages their creativity and independence! As a classroom teacher, I found that the children really enjoyed the regular wooden blocks! From train tracks, to skyscrapers the possibilities are endless.

However, as a mother and educator, I’ve learned that the power of an empty box is not to be underestimated. One of my favorite classroom studies was RECYCLING! This is where children (and their parents) really shined! I was always blown away by their creations from what some would consider JUNK!! 

 

Recycling building project from Ms. Williams previous pre-k students

Please share a summary about your thesis.

I developed a website with activities aimed at connecting young children and law enforcement with an emphasis on black and brown children. The goal is to hopefully increase their positive perceptions of the police (and vice versa) to combat police brutality and criminal offending.

Khadijah and her son Noah posing for graduation photos

 

Finally, how have you advocated for children during the pandemic and what can others do to advocate for young children post-pandemic?

The pandemic magnified inequities that still exist in today’s education system. During the pandemic, educators were finally able to get a closer look into children’s home lives and circumstances. As an advocate for less advantaged children, I spent much of the pandemic sharing ideas and suggestions to teachers and parents to ensure that all children and families had the same quality learning opportunities, experiences, and resources. Advocating for things like free Wi-fi, electronic devices for all students, free meals, and other community resources was essential. Writing letters to legislators, attending planning meetings, and completing offered surveys/questionnaires are just some of the ways parents and educators can continue to advocate for children post-pandemic.

To learn move more about the M.A. in Early Childhood Education visit our webpage