How to Become an Early Childhood Educator
In the teaching sector, early childhood education is one of the most popular areas, but also one of the most demanding and rewarding at the same time. Early childhood education is typically defined as kindergarten through third grade. This is a period of tremendous, rapid development for children in this age group and, as such, requires specialized knowledge only acquired through an early childhood education program. However, admittance into most early childhood education programs is competitive.
Know Your State’s Requirements
Perhaps the first step need to take if you want to become an early childhood educator is to know and learn about your state’s requirements and the degree that is generally accepted to teach children of this age group. Many states require you to hold an associate’s degree in early childhood education to gain an entry level position in the field, although you may only be able to obtain a job at the assistant or teacher’s aide level with this degree. The associate’s degree in early childhood education is excellent preparation in case you do want to gain a few years of real-world experience in an elementary or pre-school, which helps bolster your resume after you finally do earn a bachelor’s degree in the field.
For full teaching positions, however, most employers require you to hold a bachelor’s degree in early childhood teaching and development. In some cases, you may be required to work while continuing your education in a master’s degree program in the field. Also, many places require that early childhood educators complete continuing education credits in the form of classes and workshops to maintain licensure.
Choose a School
As you can see, there are a couple different ways you can enter the field: either through an associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree in early childhood education. When choosing a university or college, you need to confirm that it offers a specialized early childhood program. Both traditional college programs as well as online early childhood education programs exist. For example, Grand Canyon University, a regionally accredited college of the Higher Learning Commission, offers an online bachelor of science degree in early childhood. This type of program makes you eligible for credentialing and licensure after you graduate.
Complete Program Requirements
The coursework in an early childhood education degree involves learning about child development and learning during this stage, which includes topics on language development, communication disorders, learning differences as well as assessment strategies. You’ll also learn how to plan curriculums for some of the most important subjects you’ll teach to children of this age group, including reading, science, language arts and math.
Most bachelor programs in early childhood also require you to participate in some form of internship or practicum course. This experience gives you first-hand knowledge of what takes place inside a classroom and essentially gives you a head start on some of the real-world situations you’ll encounter after graduation.
Once you complete a program in early childhood education, you’ll be eligible to work in a variety of work and school settings that educate children in the preschool through third grade age group. Whether you want to find employment in nursery school, daycare, public head start program, or even an elementary school that focuses on kindergarten through third grade, any of these options will be open for you.
Find out which accredited online colleges offer an Early Childhood Education Degree to get started on your new career today!