How to Become a Preschool Teacher Online
States have several different requirements for preschool teachers - from high school to specific college majors and certification. Online programs designed to qualify graduates for this position are plentiful and varied. Read about the types of online programs available, and check with state regulations to ensure these programs meet the necessary requirements.
Preschool Teacher Education Requirements
Every state determines what formal training, if any, is necessary at the postsecondary level in order to work as a preschool teacher. Those seeking degrees that can help them gain employment or advance might wish to pursue a certificate, associate degree or bachelor's degree in early childhood education. This field encompasses the education of preschool or pre-kindergarten students. Programs may focus on preparing caregivers to work with children from birth through age five, or they could train individuals to teach preschool students through elementary school or up to a certain grade, such as third or sixth.
Head Start Program Overview and Education Requirements
Private preschool institutions or childcare centers may have their own training curriculum and hiring requirements that are not governed by the state. For example, Head Start programs focus on the social and educational development of preschoolers and assists families nationwide. They're available through a wide variety of partner schools and organizations to provide nutrition, social interaction, education and health services for underprivileged and at-risk children. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Head Start teachers are all expected to have at least an associate degree, and at least half of these educators throughout the country are required to have bachelor's degrees (www.bls.gov).
Online Program Options
Distance-learning options in early childhood education are mainly available at the undergraduate level and are found at community colleges, four-year universities and career schools. Prospective teachers may need to complete local field experiences to earn their degrees, but online coursework can be completed in a virtual classroom housing lectures and assignments. They may also be interested in hybrid programs, which allow them to complete some classes and experiential components on campus.
Master's degree programs in early childhood education are also available online, but this level of training is rare for preschool teachers. Those who do choose to pursue graduate-level degrees must have a bachelor's degree prior to admission.
In less time than it takes to earn an associate degree, students can undertake an online certificate program to acquire the education necessary to prepare infants and toddlers for formal school settings. Some prior experience in the field may be necessary. Students may be able to specifically focus on preschool environments.
Associate Degree Program
Students in an associate degree program in early childhood development learn about youth development from birth through four or five years of age. Most of these 2-year programs qualify professionals for state licensure where applicable or help to secure jobs working with infants and toddlers in a care-giving setting.
Bachelor's Degree Program
Through special need and child development courses, aspiring teachers learn to work with parents and children to help them read, speak and write at appropriate levels prior to moving into kindergarten in a bachelor's program in early child development. Lessons discuss technology in the classroom, child development, literacy and student assessment. While on-campus courses are not required, students must complete fieldwork courses with preschool children. These programs typically last four years.
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