Caring for and educating young children is an awesome responsibility filled with challenging moments and difficult choices. Preschool and kindergarten teachers, as well as day care providers, contend with many issues and considerations that can challenge their consciences. The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), in its more than 80 years of developing and supporting early childhood education, has developed a model of ethics on which early childhood educators can rely.

Collective Wisdom

Educating young children is as much an art as a science. The NAEYC believes that how you treat children is more important than any particular curriculum or project you might offer them. The beliefs and core principles of the people who pioneered the early childhood education field have been compiled and refined into a document that elaborates their vision. It continues to be revised and updated using the collective wisdom of NAEYC members to account for new situations in an ever-changing world. NAEYC offers membership to anyone who cares about early childhood education, so Code of Ethical Conduct input comes from both highly educated specialists as well as those who may have more experience and caring than they do degrees.

Responsibilities To Children

The NAEYC approach centers around responsibility to children. The code calls for educators to put children's interests first and to take ownership of the important role they play in the lives of young children. This manifests itself in many forms including how they approach education itself, avoiding anything that can be considered degrading to a child, reporting child abuse and protecting children's physical and emotional safety. The code also calls for teachers and day care professionals to collaborate with parents and anyone else relevant in children's lives to inform, make decisions and work in their best interests.

Responsibilities to Parents

Being a parent is a difficult job and even the most ready and capable need help. Teachers and day care professionals play a pivotal role in a child's development and according to the code, should act as resources and partners to parents and guardians. Early childhood educators have a responsibility to collaborate and consult with parents and respect parental approaches to child-rearing -- particularly religious and cultural beliefs and practices. When educators have concerns about a child, they have a responsibility to discuss it with parents and guardians to inform and work with them for the betterment of the child.

Responsibilities to Community

Ethics often merge into standards of professionalism. The NAEYC is a group that furthers the interests of its industry and advocates for the advancement of early childhood education. Therefore, the Code of Ethical Conduct addresses the role that early childhood educators should play in the community, which includes offering useful, nurturing and positive educational programs wherever and for whomever they work. Among many things, the code tasks educators with furthering community knowledge and understanding of early childhood education, its direction and new research and findings. Educators should also play an active role in forming and working for policies that support early childhood education, as well as lobbying against policies that pose a threat to children's best interests.