I wouldn’t come right out and say I work in the early childhood field, but depending on how you look at it, I am one of those early childhood people. I consider myself a non-profit person. An administrator of programming. It just so happens that my programs are all centered around early childhood development and quality child care practices. I, by no means, consider myself an expert in this field, far from it, actually.
My start in the early childhood field stems from a long history of working with children in different situations, my first legitimate job was an assistant dance teacher at the age of 14. Essentially, I just did what I did in my other dance classes, but with a bunch of toddlers running around my feet. That sparked years of babysitting gigs, followed by working in a licensed child care center in college, and then I somehow managed to make that limited experience into a quantifiable skill that lead me to a job with my current employer. I have been told that it was the skills and experience that I gained in my first “real-world” job that moved me to the “interview” pile and inevitably landed me the “Group Facilitator/Mentor” position. I knew enough about early childhood that the content was relatable to my experience working with children and after I fell in love with training, it all made sense. I developed some content expertise and have somehow taken on the role of an “early childhood person”.
To keep me grounded and connected to the work that my program does, I try to insert myself into the Instructor mix. I enjoy training and usually have a great time with the groups of people we get to interact with. Last weekend I had the opportunity to take on the role of Instructor for one of our Super Saturday training sessions. I was responsible for facilitating our Social-Emotional Development workshop, which, until that morning I had never facilitated. Quite honestly, I had not really even seen the content in-depth, which usually would scare me, but I have no fear of going into a training without a plan. So, that’s what I did. I used the training agenda and powerpoint as a skeleton and went rouge. I was shocked by some of the conversations that came out of those two sessions. Most interesting was a conversation that we ended up having about millennials and early childhood trends that sparked their generation’s tendency to lack common social skills.
Before the twitter-verse, my young relatives, colleagues, and the rest of the world start lighting their pitchforks – technically, I AM A MILLENNIAL. I do not intend to group all young people between the ages of 21 and 35 into this negative category, nor do I intend to imply that everyone of my generation exhibits these seemingly negative traits. So, cool your jets.
In my experience, and after doing some reading I have come to some conclusions about this millennial generation. While they are incredibly tech savvy, intelligent, globally conscious, trendy, and thoughtful, they can also be lazy, ignorant, self-absorbed, and incredibly lacking in their social skills. Awkward Alert.
This begs me to develop some curiosity around what was happening in the early childhood world 15-20 years ago when this generation was developing their social-emotional skills, ie: their ability to function and relate to the world around them.
I did some research, not much, because let’s face it, the internet is a black hole of information and finding credible data is getting harder with each new website that is launched. In my minimal search around the interwebs, I found very little connecting early childhood education and the general characteristics of the millennial generation. That doesn’t mean their isn’t a correlation, just that:
1. I haven’t found it.
2. People haven’t asked the question yet.
I’m leaning toward numero uno.
I did find this report put out by the White House outlining a TON of data on the millennial generation and their comparison to those that have come before them. As someone who has employed several millennials, I was surprised by this set of data:
While, my usual assumption would be that millennials would job-hop more than the generations that paved the way, however this set of data, as well as my personal career are a testament otherwise. I suppose that this contradiction could disprove my theory that something truly is different about the millennial generation. Maybe it’s not that they are lacking specific skills, perhaps they manifest themselves in different ways. I can appreciate that.
I’m still curious about early childhood education trends from the 90s and early 2000s, so stay tuned as I start to do a little digging with the experts I have at my disposal. Maybe I’ll get a new training out of this idea.