Classism in the Early Childhood Field


As an early childhood professional, I believe that classism is something that I have faced in my profession as well as my life.  For most of my career in this field, I have had a lack of insurance coverage, low wages, and many times felt that people did not understand the importance of the role I have in the life of children that I work with.  As a matter of fact, more than once I have been referred to as a babysitter.  And honestly, most families do not realize that I am educated and am working towards my Master’s degree. 

How does this effect the work that I do with children? I feel that I have come to accept the fact that I may never be paid wages that reflect my education, I love the work that I do and I feel that I do the best I can ever day in making connections and building relationships with the children and families that I work with. But it is also hard due to high staff turnover, because as a teacher I am always working with new people, and the children also have to re-adjust to new teachers. 

I feel fortunate that most of the families I work with now do apricate the work that I do with their children. They understand that I am more of a baby sitter, but this has also been made possible because of parent education as well as a level of professionalism that I try to show parents.  I feel that the issue of classism in the early childhood field is connected to many of the issues within our field.  Advocacy and parent information do help, but I would love to see where early childhood professionals are treated like teachers who work in 4-12 public school programs.


4 thoughts on “Classism in the Early Childhood Field

  1. Hi Cindy,
    I agree…Some people do think early childhood educators are just a babysitter. Some people don’t understand that these are crucial times of a young child’s life. Children will pick up a lot of habits (good or bad). Children needs the right educators in their life. The time a child enters into a daycare setting, the child is being exposed to a new world.

    According to (Derman-Sparks and Olsen-Edwards, 2010), a person’s early childhood years lay the foundation for a developmental and experiential journey that continues into adulthood. With appropriate adult guidance, this foundation will be a strong one, providing the base for next stages of healthy development and the skills a person needs to thrive and succeed in a complex diverse world.


    Derman-Sparks, L., & Olsen Edwards, J. (2010). Anti-bias education for young children and ourselves. Washington, DC: NAEYC


  2. Veryl Hines
    Re: Reply to Cindy

    Hi, Cindy
    The “ism” that you chose to speak on is one that most of us in the Early Childhood education field has faced. Instilling the importance of respecting Early Childhood Education as a vital part of a child’s overall development has been a challenge. According to the National Education Association (NEA), the field of Early Childhood is the best investment our country can make to prepare for our children’s success in life.
    Having to endure classism is similar to facing other isms such as racism or sexism because they are all some form of oppression. Even in today’s society, people are still treated differently because of class, levels of education, and money but as anti-bias educators, we have to make sure our attitudes are professional and non-bias. According to (Derman-Sparks & Edwards, 2010), one of the goals for anti-bias teachers is to increase awareness of their own social identity based on gender, race, ethnicity, or even their economic class and know the advantage and disadvantage we face because of classism.
    As we strive to be professional and provide anti -bias environment, we need to address the following questions; Does classism prevent us teachers from seeing our parents and children for who they really are? or Do we judge our families on how successful they are in society?


    Derman-Sparks, L., & Olsen Edwards, J. (2010). Anti-bias education for young children and ourselves. Washington, DC: NAEYC


  3. I so agree! I cannot count on my hands and toes how many times I have been referred to as a baby sitter because it happens so often. Until reading your blog post, I never really thought about this as being classism, but it so is. Within our profession, those that work in schools are considered the “upperclass”, those of us in the non-school roles (such as child care, before/after school programs, etc…) are looked at as “lowerclass”. So many of us have the same education, deal with similar situations throughout the day and really do have similar roles, but families just do not understand this. Those working with birth to five, have an even more important role because they are preparing these children not only for school readiness, but essentially for life. Social emotional skills are not worked on so much when children enter school (at least in my area, not sure about others), so this is a focus of our birth to five programs. Social emotional skills carry on past a child’s academic career and they cannot be successful in that academic career without them. Have you been following NAEYC’s Power to the Profession initiative? If not, check it out: I am hoping that this helps get the word out that all in the early childhood workforce are professionals.


  4. Hi Cindy,
    I felt the same when I moved from working with elementary children to head start. When working with head start, the hours are longer, which made me feel like this. But I realized that, “Learning to be an effective anti-bias educator is a journey.” (Derman-Sparks,2010) But your role is important because you have to prepare children for school readiness and it is not easy. I am prod of your faith on what you do, and dedicated to making a difference in the early childhood. great post Cindy.


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