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Early Childhood Education Journal

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Early childhood teachers -- Training of, Early childhood educators, Career development


In the US, recent efforts have focused on professionalizing the field of early childhood. One way to indicate professionalism is through the terms used to describe both the field and the workers. However, few have examined how practitioners or researchers describe early childhood professionals’ work. Using multiple data sources and analytic strategies, we examined the ways that those working with young children described their role and setting, as well as how these were described in research and practitioner journals. “Teacher” was the preferred term for both journals and professionals, and terms for setting reflected traditional K-12 school structures. Professionals linked these terms to the idea that early childhood education was teaching and preparing children for formal schooling. Many contrasted their work with daycare and babysitting, noting that planning, curriculum use, expertise, program quality, funding mechanisms, professionalism, and early childhood as an important developmental period all contributed to their roles as teachers in preschool settings. Implications are discussed.


This is the post-print version. The final published version is available from the publisher, © 2021 Springer Nature:



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