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Introduction

Advocacy leadership involves long-term planning and vision that is used in reforming public regulations and policy in the Australian education system. The constructs are aimed at providing alternative perspectives when it comes to leadership in early childhood education. The main concern is the opportunities that advocacy leadership provides to be implemented and developed leading to an impact on early childhood education (Bhopal & Rhamie, 2019). So many opportunities and possibilities become available, especially with the introduction of new policy frameworks. Educators' perspectives must be focused on advocating for proper leadership in early childhood development. This must also be in line with the national quality framework for early childhood education and school-age care as outlined by the Australian government.

Advocacy and Activism in Early Childhood

This concept evolves from multiple disciplines such as those related to care development and education when it comes to children from birth to around 8 years. Advocacy is defined as a proactive promotion leading to awareness and raising of a course barrier (Bøe & Hognestad, 2020). The barriers can be in the form of participation, inclusion and equity. The main reason for advocacy is to be able to create change in the way of thinking while creating micro and macro contexts within the family educator relationships. Considering that there are so many challenges and tensions when it comes to the conceptual differences in understanding the concept of advocacy and activism the government structures must be followed to help in eliminating resistance.

The reconceptualist theory has been used in the past to advocate for activism and advocacy in early childhood development. This is because it overlaps between the children and families leading to proper mobilization of advocacy and activism (Braun & Clarke, 2019). The theory uses activism related to early childhood topics like quality leadership, social justice and even professional identity. The professionals involved in an international context when it comes to issues affecting children such as childhood obesity and other health care professionals, educators and social care workers are supposed to be integrated into this concept (Campbell-Barr & Leeson, 2015). The aim is for them to be able to meet the children's needs and improve their outcomes with the help of their families. In this case, advocacy and activism by children and families are considered important when it comes to writing initiatives that can provide quality education, especially for children who are experiencing disability.

Leadership remains very important when it comes to child care. It is also a key concept when it comes to providing quality education and sustaining the quality of care in early childhood development. This is because leadership can create a stimulating environment that will be conducive for both the children and the staff (Clark, 2020). This is because successful transformative leaders can connect and influence people to achieve common goals. Leaders are supposed to act according to their values and motivations to be able to direct their followers. It becomes even more compelling when professionals have to lead children with the intent of creating satisfaction with human needs and expectations (Coleman, Sharp, & Handscomb, 2016). Communication therefore remains a key concept for quality leaders who must form a relationship and create a rapport with their efforts to help in understanding their children.

In early childhood development, leadership comprises two main functions administration and pedagogical development. Administrative leadership requires management operations which are strategic in terms of planning and staff management while pedagogical leadership aims at supporting the pedagogical processes that help in the implementation and promotion of curriculum and assessment and creating a trusting environment and relationship for professional growth and overall well-being of the child (Creswell, Shope, & Plano, 2019). Leadership remains contingent and a context of specific settings in terms of administrative management and building organizational routines. Transformational leadership is one of the most important leadership traits that has changed and transformed organizations because they can assess followers, motivate them, satisfy their needs and treat them accordingly. As a director, the leadership style used to affect the stakeholders like the children, parents, teachers, administration and even the community is transformational leadership (Cuttler, 2022). A transformational leader is supposed to empower multiple stakeholders, focus groups and other organizations to help in achieving positive outcomes.

Transformational leaders are known to motivate their followers and impact them positively by propagating positive work performance. ECE professionals are supposed to transition their mindset to that of transformational leadership to be able to comfortably chat with the cause of the organization and provide a quality education that adheres to the recommended policies. Having a transformational leadership mindset helps in working with the knowledge of the child to be able to develop their moral purposes, personal traits and even skills (Davis & Dunn, 2019). Transformational leaders are increasingly important when it comes to providing high-quality provision for the early years. As the director, I am supposed to develop a child care-driven purpose and process clear vision to motivate and communicate the leadership styles to the staff. In addition, there must be a collaboration with the community and other stakeholders (Hammond, 2018). Transformative leaders must also engage and promote family engagement in the running of the school. The ability to process these skills and traits helps them to establish appropriate programs that will provide early care for the children.

Advocacy in leadership requires transformational leaders to be able to reflect on the policies and make decisions that have an impact to support staff training, credentials and accreditation through licensing standards and decent salaries to be able to help early childhood education. These policies are supposed to contribute a regulatory reform on behalf of the children, families and even the community. Moreover, the leader is supposed to be able to practice education leadership in terms of teaching learning and curriculum supervision. This is to ensure the establishment of clear goals and expectations that are in tandem with teaching and learning. Leadership in early childhood development requires educators to be able to engage in a range of leadership responsibilities.

A good transformative leader can establish organizational conditions that positively influence the process and quality of staff engagement while also inculcating continuous professional development and growth. Leadership is very important because it develops the child's learning environment for starting their overall well-being (Heikka, Pitkäniemi, & Kettukangas, 2021). This transformational leader needs to be able to mitigate stress that may be emerging from different areas of work like accommodating children with special needs and working with groups of large children while documenting their development and administrative work. Considering that the demand for early childhood development has increased there are a lot of stress and barriers that are affecting proper leadership.

The ability of a transformational leader to be able to engage with parents is one of the key pillars when it comes to providing quality education in early childhood development. Previous research has shown that a strong association between children and parents when it comes to early childhood education leads to better academic success and social-emotional development within society (Langford, Richardson, & Albanese, 2018). It is also observed that good communication between the parents and early childhood education staff is very important because it enhances knowledge about the children who might have a disability and also allows for a proper understanding of the children’s home environment. In addition to this engagement in terms of community and partnership also helps in providing the children with a holistic environment for property development. Different services such as daycare, health care services and child services when brought together create a continuum of services that are very beneficial to the children and help in reassuring the parents of the quality of education (Bøe & Hognestad, 2020). Corporation between the early childhood development centers together with community services is very important when it comes to transitioning between the early childhood setting to the primary school and this is also influencing the trajectories of the school the children will be picking for their positive future outcomes.

It is also important to note that with recent technology education is also being disrupted with technology. This requires educational leaders to be able to adapt to changing technology to meet the needs and demands of the children. Due to uncertainty and changes in the expectations in the education sector education leadership must dwell on theoretical approaches to come up with policies that are accountable and increase focus on best practices for early childhood education. (Creswell, Shope, & Plano, 2019) This means that there is a need for a lot of training and exploration of the complexities that are being brought about by technological advances. There is a need to support explorations when it comes to early childhood education and improve their educational perspectives as a catalyst to bring changes that can meet the current environmental challenges that are being observed.

Conclusion

Early childhood education is a volatile period that requires proper leadership and advocacy. This type of leadership is effective in establishing a quality environment for the children and staff. Positive leadership engagement with parents, community, government and other stakeholders plays a vital role in providing a balanced continuum and holistic environment for the children. Technological advancement is the major threat when it comes to education and hence ECE leaders must be in tandem with current technology to provide relevant education that remains worthy of praise for the children.

References

Bhopal, K., & Rhamie, J. (2019). Initial teacher training: Understanding ‘race’, diversity and inclusion. Race Ethnicity and Education , 17(3): 304–325.

Bøe, M., & Hognestad, K. (2020). Directing and facilitating distributed pedagogical leadership: Best practices in early childhood education. International Journal of Leadership in Education , 20(2): 133–148.

Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2019). Reflecting on reflexive thematic analysis. Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health , 11(4): 589–597.

Campbell-Barr, V., & Leeson, C. (2015). Quality and Leadership in the Early Years: Research, Theory and Practice. London: Sage.

Clark, A. (2020). Towards a listening ECEC system. In Cameron C, Moss P (eds) Transforming Early Childhood in England: Towards a Democratic Education. London: UCL Press.

Coleman, A., Sharp, C., & Handscomb, G. (2016). Leading highly performing children’s centres: Supporting the development of the ‘accidental leaders. Educational Management Administration and Leadership , 44(5): 775–793.

Creswell, J., Shope, R., & Plano, C. V. (2019). How interpretive qualitative research extends mixed methods research. Research in the Schools , 13(1): 1–11.

Cuttler, M. (2022). Pedagogical leadership in practice with babies. In: Sakr M and O’Sullivan J (eds)Pedagogical Leadership in Early Childhood Education: Conversations from Across the World. London: Bloomsbury.

Davis, B., & Dunn, R. (2019). Professional identity in the infant room. Australasian Journal of Early Childhood , 44(3): 244–256.

Hammond, M. (2018). The contribution of pragmatism to understanding educational action research: Value and consequences. Educational Action Research , 21(4): 603–618.

Heikka, J., Pitkäniemi, H., & Kettukangas, T. (2021). Distributed pedagogical leadership and teacher leadership in early childhood education contexts. International Journal of Leadership in Education , 24(3): 333–348.

Langford, R., Richardson, B., & Albanese, P. (2018). Caring about care: Reasserting care as integral to early childhood education and care practice, politics and policies in Canada. Global Studies of Childhood , 7(4): 311–322.

 See our related work: Leadership in Early Childhood Education - Essay Writing

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