Although having an Early Childhood Education (ECE) degree is not absolutely necessary in order to become a preschool teacher, it does have its benefits. The experience that you gain from an ECE degree is unmatched and will open the doors to better employment opportunities as a preschool teacher. The goal of any high quality education program is to ensure that teachers receive adequate preparation to feel confident in their ability to teach effectively for multiple learning styles.
Of course, like any degree program, not all ECE degree programs are the same. To find a high quality Early Childhood Education degree program, that will have you the most prepared for working with young children, look for these qualities.
Small class sizes means that you will get a more personalized experience. The professors will know you and you will be able to work and collaborate with them on a different level than you would with large lecture sized classes.
Having extensive opportunities for experience in a variety of early childhood settings is the number one most important part of your degree program. There should be several practicum and student teaching opportunities throughout the program, not just at the end, for you to gain observable hands-on practice. The more hands-on experience that you are able to gain through your degree program, the more prepared that you will be when you are teaching in your own classroom for the first time.
When considering different degree programs it is always a good idea to compare the amount of flexibility in each program. If you have already completed some course work through another program, you will want to know if those credits will transfer to the early childhood education degree program that you are considering. Most students also have to work while pursuing a degree, so consider whether or not the course schedule is flexible enough to allow for that.
WELL ESTABLISHED PROFESSORS
Who will be teaching and guiding you through this process matters a great deal. You need to know that the professors are well established not only in the field of early childhood education, but in preparing new teachers for their future work in the classroom as well.
When an education program is accredited it shows that it is a high quality program. Finding a program that is accredited through the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) is a sure sign that the program prepares upcoming teachers to be ready to teach effectively.
When looking into any degree program, it’s important to know the rate at which graduates are able to find employment after completing their degree. It is even better if the program offers assistance with finding teaching jobs. Other services that are very useful to have would be test prep services, so that you have support when going through the process of getting ready for and taking your state licensing exam, if you choose to go that route.
After deciding to continue your education and pursue a degree in early childhood education, choosing the right high quality ECE degree program for you is vital to your career path. The degree program that you choose should prepare you for working in a variety of early childhood settings and give you the confidence, knowledge, and practice you need to be an effective teacher.