When you’re looking for an early childhood education program, you need to be aware of some factors. First and foremost, you must check that the school is accredited. Don’t even bother applying to a school without this important component. Upon graduation, most employers won’t even look at your application if you attended a university without accreditation.
You should also check out the specifics of the program. Some schools will require that you have a second major to go along with it. You also should be aware of when you need to declare a major by. It’s unlikely that you’d need to declare one right away, but you’ll probably have to do it sometime in your second year. A program that allows you to go in as undecided lets you take some elementary education classes but also classes in other fields that you might want to pursue. Some programs might be tailored especially for little ones who are in nursery or preschool, and other programs may bundled early childhood education into an elementary education certification. Be sure that your degree will match the requirements of the state in which you want to teach.
Paying for school can be really tough. Therefore, it’s also important to review the financial aid options that the prospective school offers. You may also be eligible for some scholarships that are supplied through the school.
Most programs will require you to do some sort of student teaching and observations. During observations, you visit different classrooms and take notes about the various teaching methods employed. You’ll usually do these in your sophomore and junior years, and then you’ll student teach in the latter half of your senior year. Before enrolling in such a program, make sure that you have time for these commitments along with your other classes and job. These requirements can vary as can the curriculum. It’s always smart to browse through the program requirements and course descriptions before accepting entry into a school. You might find that the classes really don’t match your interests, or you may find special opportunities such as a five year program in which you receive both your undergraduate and graduate diplomas.
While you don’t need to attend the best school in the country to receive a good education, you should at least have a sense of the school’s reputation. Some schools are more well known for having the best education programs in the area, even if other programs at the school are not highly ranked. Look at the entire picture. Think about the future too. Does the school have a high success rate of students obtaining jobs once they graduate? Many schools have career centers that will help students with their resumes, cover letters and finding positions.
Before enrolling in a program, you must consider whether the location works for you. If you’re fresh out of high school, dorming is often an exciting opportunity. However, if you’re returning to school and you own a home or have children, this isn’t really an option. Will be you be able to get to school on time even with your job and with dropping the kids off at their schools? You may want to consider an online education if time is going to be a major constraint.
Even with online programs though, you have to be able to make a commitment to your early childhood classes. There might be scheduled online seminars, and there will be definitely be deadlines for papers and projects. Furthermore, it’s very difficult, if not impossible, to participate in an education program without doing observations or student teaching. When you’re going into teaching, you generally have to take state certification tests. These are often held at a local high school or other testing center on a weekend, so you’ll need to carve out the time to take care of this obligation as well. You’re likely not going to be able to complete every single course requirement over the Internet.