Pre-school teachers make a difference by engaging in tough conversations on social issues that affect young children and their families (Part Two)

By Lesleann Whiteman

[This is Part Two of the article Pre-school Teachers Make a Difference by Engaging in Tough Conversations on Social Issues that Affect Young Children and Their Families. To read Part One, please click here.]

Supporting Parents: Interactive Workshops

Based on the theoretical and philosophical underpinnings previously discussed on the significance of creating genuine parent-teacher relationships in the best interest of young children’s developmental outcomes, I have always taken into consideration the well-being of children and families who may be challenged to provide healthy snacks and lunches for their children. Due to the mutual trust and respect between the families and myself, some of the parents felt comfortable confiding in me when they were unable to provide a healthy snack/lunch for their child and in such cases I used the following strategies:

Pre-school teachers make a difference by engaging in tough conversations on social issues that affect young children and their families (Part One)

by Lesleann Whiteman

As a trained pre-school teacher I was taught to adopt the philosophy: young children enter early childhood programmes with their families. If there were any social issues such as poverty, or life-style related diseases impacting the family, it would also impact upon the child’s holistic development. Therefore, I learned how to engage parents in tough conversations on societal issues by working in partnership with them, sometimes with the support of specific community organisations, to overcome issues such as poverty. In this article, I will share the practical strategies I used to address the societal issue of poverty or limited socio-economic resources encountered by some families and children. Hopefully, these strategies can be applied to other early childhood programmes within the Caribbean as early childhood professionals frequently work with children and families who are faced with societal issues that could sometimes impede children’s holistic development.  

The Early Childhood Care and Education Teacher - The unsung hero of society. By Patricia Bissessar

By Patricia Bissessar


None will dispute the fact that the move toward provision of pre-school education for all who require it in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago is undoubtedly a profitable investment in our human capital formation. According to economist and Nobel Prize Winner Jack Heckman (2012), exposure to early childhood experiences in pre-school years are not only fundamental to the success of each child in life, but it is a cost-effective strategy for promoting the economic growth and stability of a country. Empirical evidence is also available from around the world to show that sufficient financial investments made in pre-school education can increase primary school readiness, lower repetition and dropout rates, reduce teenage pregnancy rates and decrease dependency on social welfare benefits (Lamy, 2013).

Play’s importance for children: Links to learning By Dr. James Johnson

By Dr. James Johnson

A current important issue facing educational professionals in the Caribbean region is how to improve the understanding of play and learning during the early years and how to apply this to enhance the quality of programs for young children (Logie, 2013).  The place of play is contested. One reason for opposing play in early education is the ambiguity that often surrounds the term ‘play’.

Specialty Community Paediatrics in the South West Regional Health Authority of Trinidad and Tobago: Providing services and advocating for children with disabilities

By Dr. Ravi Ragoo

Specialty Community Paediatrics is a new and expanding arm of the paediatric service provided within the public health system of Trinidad and Tobago. A good community paediatrician recognises that there are several forces such as social, spiritual and cultural beliefs that impact favourably and unfavourably on the child’s health and functioning. He/she uses all of the community’s resources in collaboration with other professionals and agencies to achieve optimal care.

Under the United Kingdom health system, Specialty Community Paediatrics covers six (6) core areas of care: developmental paediatrics, medicals for education, child protection, looked after children or children in foster care, health promotion and general paediatrics. In Trinidad and Tobago, mandatory medicals for looked after children are not yet the norm; this is an area that needs greater attention as we improve services.

Are we meeting the needs of children with disabilities in Trinidad and Tobago?

By David E. Bratt CMT, MD, MPH

Trinidad and Tobago is now in the third Phase of Child Health. The first Phase lasted approximately from around Independence (1960) when the first local paediatricians arrived home, until around 1980 and was characterized by improved and expanded immunization programmes and the decline of infectious diseases including gastroenteritis and pneumonia.

The second Phase lasted until the start of the 21st century.  During this period cardiac problems, haematological illnesses, paediatric cancers, various neurological entities and improvements in the care of newborns and “preemies” came under some sort of control.

The third Phase started at the turn of the century and is defined by Psycho-Social-Paediatrics. The problems now are those of childhood obesity and its adult effects (diabetes, heart attacks, high blood pressure & strokes); violence - both outside and inside the home; educational and above all, children with disabilities.