RESEARCH HIGHLIGHT: “We’re More than a Daycare”



Dr. Shayne Piasta, Crane Faculty Associate, co-authored a study investigating the labels used to describe early childcare (EC) professionals both by researchers and by professionals themselves. This research is of high importance because of the country’s recent efforts to professionalize the field of early childhood.

Study authors wrote, “as EC professionals are the ones doing the work in classrooms, their views regarding their work and their role matter. For professionalization to be something more than a top-down process driven by researchers or policymakers, the perspectives of the EC workforce must be centered.”

Read the study published in Early Childhood Education Journal.


Researchers used three phases to conduct this study:

Phase 1: they reviewed a total of 52 researcher and practitioner journals to understand the terms that researchers used to describe early care professionals and settings.

Phase 2: involved interviewing 20 EC professionals on their perspectives of their roles.

Phase 3: researchers collected data through online surveys from 112 educators.


– 1 –

The most preferred term for role across all data sources was “teacher.” “Educator” was the second most common term but appeared less frequently.

– 2 –

During interviews, teachers expressed the sentiment that their work was teaching or educating young children within preschool settings to prepare them for formal schooling. This notion was strongly tied to participants’ views of themselves as teachers.

“I think we’re more than a daycare. Like, we actually—we’re teaching; we’re helping develop these young children into being able to be productive members of society and, you know, really giving them the tools they need to succeed in school.”