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Effective leadership within the settings of early childhood is associated with the apparent thriving implementation of both the education programmes as well as high-quality care. With the mounting attention on the early childhood education, effective leadership plays an important role in order to prepare the children to help them in achieving their goals and to be successful in their lives (Palaiologou & Male, 2019). Early childhood education and care settings help children to learn, thrive, and grow and is characterised by high-quality relationships and interactions. Effective leadership has been considered as one of the most important drivers of quality improvement, organisational performance, and innovation (Megalonidou, 2020). This essay revolves around the concept of effective leadership in early childhood education and care. The essay will discuss the strategic planning and the vision for the future in the early childhood education, care along with developing a learning community, and how leader also acts as a learner along with the way they contribute to the program quality and helps in attaining positive outcomes for both the children as well as their families.
Strategic planning in the early childhood context is the most important as well as the initial step in achieving the goal of early childhood care and education. This entails empowering the leaders and the families of the children (Allred & Hancock, 2015). The leaders must be inspiring, encouraging, motivating, and visionary and should be common to the acuities of the participants (Munoz et al., 2015). The strategic planning needs to gather various important sectors as well as major stakeholders along with early childhood development experts. They shoulds work collaboratively for the identification of the major key areas that needs attention as well as an immediate action. The process of strategic planning will be operationalised and focused on the vision of the state regarding early childhood care and education. The strategic plan will contain a chart that will have a clear path which will be focused on coordinated, integrated and an aligned system of the programs of high. The plan should be focused on providing the support and services for young children as well as their families and promoting equity and diversity. It is very important to serve the children and their families and addressing their needs. Along with this improving access as well as availability across the program and services is also important. The strategy for this would involve firstly, the interest of the child, as it is of the supreme priority. Secondly, the needs and preferences of the parents along with the social as well as economic objectives should be focused and acknowledged (Farewell et al., 2020). The strategic plan is incomplete without a vision for the future. Early childhood education and care services’ significance and vision to look forward in supporting the child development along with facilitating appropriate and effective workforce participation as well as economic engagement. Along with this the vision of the future is not only providing support to the children but also to support their parents instead of replacing them. There should be access to early childhood care and education for the parents so that they can balance the care regarding their children with their decisions in order to take part in the workforce. Apart from this, the system should be easy to navigate. The transitions as well as the discontinuities between the early childhood care and educational services must be diminished for the parents and children. The impending for the good early childhood care and educational services will improve the early childhood outcomes, especially in disadvantaged children. The power strategies are considered as the measures that help in interacting with others when attempting in order to create changes. The strategies would also include educating and encouraging the family to develop a consistent routine of bedtime. This will advocate the children be to evaluate themselves and their eligibility to receive the early intervention services (Erchul et al., 2014).
Implementation and successful execution of the strategic plan are not possible until the development of the learning community does not occur. In order to develop a learning community, a clear, well-established, and well-understood mission, vision, and goals are required. This would be possible by the help of dedicated and committed leadership, solid volunteer workforce, and wide connections (Allred & Hancock, 2015). The effective leadership will help in developing a learning community as effective leadership is behind a successful workforce team and a successful workforce team would only be formed when the leader will educate the team. The effective leadership helps in educating a team regarding what a professional learning community means and how it could be formed. The development of the learning community means building a community that is focused on learning and improving. A professional learning community is not like other kinds of programs but it involves more collaboration and an ongoing process that is focused more on the learning rather than teaching. It will involve both the educators as well as the administrators to contribute equally in the way of improvement and to hold them accountable for the same (Vanblaere & Devos, 2018). Learning is a must here and if the educators learn they will enable themselves to improve children.
There are certain barriers also in building a learning community and the major barrier identified is collaborating educators of a different culture because it really becomes a difficult task to maintain harmony in such a situation. However, effective leadership also helps in overcoming this barrier and facilitation of harmonious learning community. This is done by fostering open and judgment-free communication between the communities; exchange of suggestions and ideas for the betterment. This will not only help in developing a harmonious learning community but will also allow every individual to grow professionally as they start learning from each other (Christensen et al., 2018). This will result in the better and positive outcomes of the child during the early childhood care and education. The setting of SMART goals is also a way that would help in achieving the goal of developing a learning community. Goal setting is one of the most important aspects. The set goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, results focused and timely and this would help the learning community to work accordingly. Learning-community programs go through some predictable stages of development. At first, the emphasis is usually on technical issues about the startup: recruiting and registering students, getting the support of key players for the new innovation, designing the curriculum. Later on, questions turn to more complex issues about program setting, design, and impact. Development of a learning community is not possible without effective leadership. This is so because it is the effective leadership only that also helps in the facilitation of the educator’s growth in an early childhood setting. The effective leadership will help the learning community to work as per the unifying conceptual framework that has been structured. It will help the community to adhere them together into the coherent program. The most stable learning communities are generally based on three foundations that are firstly on the culture-based human values, the capability to view and work as per the flow of the system; and a set of practices that will be focused on the generative conversation.
Not only for the educators but for the leaders also it is about learning and a good leader is always a good learner. Good leadership comes with experience and experience always comes from learning, learning either from the success or failures (Aas, 2016). Working in a childhood setting brings a lot of challenges and it is up to the leader only to plan, work, and execute the things efficiently and help the workforce team the achieve the set goals and overcome the barriers that come in the path of success. The important characteristics of an effective leader also come by continuous learning from the experience, work environment, staff members, and actually everyone around. The ability to deal with the ambiguity and to foster the engagement of everyone who is a part of the project is attained from learning. And, the ability to learn comes up with the ability to share the ideas and suggestions, and by research. The leader should be profound in learning how to use the failure and change it into success (Aas, 2016). Leaders are seen as the one who sets up the tone for an organization. The leaders should be agile in their responses as per the ever-changing needs and preferences of the children and their parents along with acknowledging their cultural needs (Aas, 2016).
Learning excels a leader and enhances his skills and it is considered as a huge part of the growth process of a leader (Aas, 2016). Learning as a leader could be understood as growth-focused learning and it could help in transforming the organization to a greater good. Learning as a leader comes in various forms such as learning to listen as a leader and learning to lead. Learning also brings the ability to use open systems thinking by the leaders effectively. It helps in effective analysis of ongoing internal and external processes to continue the improvement of the organization. Learning throughout the leadership leads to the leader’s personal as well as professional development. A leader must be a lifelong learner. The best leaders are always learners because they did not consider them the best and always look forward to being better by learning from others. Learning from the surrounding also helps the leaders to engage others with them. They enable themselves to pull them out from my challenges.
Early childhood education and care settings play a major role in children’s lives as it helps them to learn, thrive, and grow and helps them in building high-quality relationships and interactions. However, to make it a success, an effective strategic plan and development of a learning community are required. The strategic plan is important for the systematic working and execution of the plan in an effective and planned way in order to achieve the optimal and positive outcomes of the early childhood care and education setting. Development of a learning community is also important as it not only helps in the learning and development of the children but also helps in the facilitation of the educator’s growth in an early childhood setting. However, achieving success for both of the aspects is impossible without effective leadership. Effective leadership has been considered as one of the most important drivers of quality improvement, organisational performance, and innovation. Effective leadership in early childhood settings is linked with the implementation of education programmes as well as high-quality care in order to prepare the children in achieving their goals and to be successful in their lives. This is impossible if the leader does not keep learning. Learning as a leader is important for the effective facilitation of the leadership to achieve the set goals.
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