This is a time of great change, challenge, and opportunity for teachers. Current brain research has raised the expectations of what young children can learn in the early years. This, in turn, has raised the expectations we have of ourselves. Here are my ABC's for teaching young children in today's world.

A is for aptitude. A teacher must have the ability for understanding young children.

B is for benefits. Teachers deserve fair compensation.

C is for compassion, understanding the social, political, and economic contexts that frame each family.

D is for developmental. We all need to have knowledge of the physical, social, emotional, and cognitive development of each child. E is for environments, taking advantage of both indoor and outdoor spaces as learning places.

F is for family. It's imperative to involve the child's family in the educational process.

G is for growth. Good teachers are committed to their ongoing professional development.

H is for highly qualified. Teachers should meet the highest educational level of the profession.

I is for innovative, interactive instruction, bringing new ideas into the classroom.

J is for Jones. Betty Jones has written extensively on developmentally appropriate practice. She feels adults should have the kind of learning experience that they are expected to provide for children.

K is for knowledge. Excellent teachers are on a continual quest for knowledge.

L is for literacy. We must learn all we can about literacy to provide a stimulating blend of activities.

M is for mathematics. We must understand how to teach math to today's young children.

N is for narrative story structure. Understanding what a story is encourages the enjoyment of reading.

O is for "outside-in domain." Children must connect concepts we introduce to their own experiences.

P is for phonics, phonemic awareness, and phonological sensitivity. A teacher must know what role each plays in the development of literacy.

Q is for a quality learning environment, one that provides opportunities for self-directed activities.

R is for research. When we know how children learn, we can help them reach their potential.

S is for a society that recognizes the right of all its children to achieve their potential.

T is for teachers. We hope to see a renewed interest in the teaching profession.

U is for "user friendly"-educational advances must be accessible with minimal frustration.

V is for vocabulary development-assess each child's vocabulary and make sure children feel good about the vocabulary they come to school with.

W is for words-pay attention to how children pronounce their words and note if the child's language lends itself to a standard phonemic structure.

X is for xenophobic, something a teacher cannot be. She must embrace the richness and pluralism that is part of the changing national landscape.

Y is for young at heart-never lose the wonderment and excitement of learning.

Z is for the zoo. View this old standby field trip through new eyes and think about possibilities for literacy and numeracy activities.