Children deserve to be cared for every day

Young children in the Cayman Islands deserve the best that we can give them.

Week of the Young Child, 21-28 April, was a time to recognise the needs of young children and thank the adults involved in their education and care. Parents, teachers, caregivers, and other adults play important roles in the lives of young children, and Week of the Young Child celebrates their efforts. The theme for this year’s celebration was Today’s children…tomorrow’s leaders…invest wisely!

We can show support for early learning in our communities by promoting early literacy and early numeracy programmes, thanking teachers who care for our children and working to ensure that our public policies support early learning for all young children.

In the Cayman Islands, we are particularly concerned about the lack of legislation that would ensure effective developmentally appropriate practices, protect our children by means of child protection policies, ensure compliance of health and safety laws, which include car seat safety and biking safety, become more aware and knowledgeable about the negative influence of television and media violence, stand up for justice for all crimes committed against children, plan and prepare nutritious meals, learn and practice effective positive discipline, select and provide appropriate toys, make available more supervised opportunities for young children to play (ie indoor, outdoor and traditional games) and to enjoy and learn more about the natural environment such as the names of trees, animals, insects, birds, fish and sea creatures.

Week of the Young Child is a time to remind us that early years are learning years. Children in our Islands depend on adults in their lives to nurture them, care for them, spend valuable time with them, talk with them, sing with them, play with them and invest money in early programmes and activities that will benefit them and their families.

The Cayman Islands Early Childhood Association acknowledges the valuable work that is done on behalf of young children in our Islands and expresses thanks and appreciation to all early childhood staff, teachers, caregivers, medical personnel, parents and community partners and volunteer organisations.

We urge you to take time to express thanks and appreciation to parents, teachers, caregivers and other adults who play important roles in raising, nurturing, teaching and guiding our youngest citizens. To build a nation, we must start with our young children. Here are two ways that you can help:

First, do no harm, but invest time daily to listen, to talk, to read, to sing, and to play with young children.

And invest your money in local college programmes to guarantee an increase in the number of locally qualified early childhood professionals.

Reina Jefferson

President, Cayman Islands Early Childhood Association