There has been much written about what it means to be an advocate, as well as about the skills that are needed for effective advocacy. Most of these skills focus on activities, such as being informed, well-organized, and communication skills, however, as I have reflected on this, I feel that something more basic is missing. I know of people who have all the above skills, and yet, they still do not advocate, and what they are missing is the passion that comes from having to tell a story. I touched briefly on this in my last blog, but all advocates see a problem and feel that they must tell their story in order to make change. This passion and a sense that something must change underlies their work, and creates their motivation to advocate.
The work of advocates in any field is to promote change in order to address a problem that they see or to promote an activity or policy that will benefit those who are impacted by their issue. In Early Learning, this problem, activity, or policy can be anything from asking manufacturers to make a soap that doesn't say "Keep Out of Reach of Children" to parents understanding why play is important to rules and regulations governing Early Childhood Education to Child Care Assistance Program reimbursement rates. All of these things promote a better, more efficient system for caring for and educating young children.
The trick then to being an advocate is finding your passion- big or small. What is the thing that you want to change about Early Childhood Education , and how would this thing make Early Childhood Education better for children and families? What story do you want to tell? We all have one and we all love hearing stories. The news eats them up- so start telling yours. You will find that you will have a ready audience, and you will have become an advocate!