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An early child education practicum is a form of volunteer work experience that is a cornerstone of training in education, counseling and social work which involves work experience and supervision by a qualified supervising educator, therapist or social worker. There are many online programs offering degrees in early child education. Nearly every in-person early childhood education program has one or more requirements for a practicum, and these can range from short-term, specific assignments at child development centers to longer-term supervised work programs. There are several online early childhood education programs which do not. Instead, they offer capstone courses and other forms of in-depth work in the major to provide the necessary experience and individualized instruction to get you started on the road to becoming a child development teacher.
Early Childhood Educator Capstone Programs
In addition to courses covering theories and concepts in education for young children such as curriculum, teaching methods, and community collaboration, programs like University of Arizona Global Campus's online bachelor's degree in early childhood education incorporate a capstone project. This individualized class includes a final exam covering knowledge of standards in the field, and a written project that will incorporate the student's learning and interests in the field. Kaplan University's online bachelor's degree program for early childhood educators also includes a capstone project.
Steps in the Early Childhood Teaching Process
Requirements for becoming a teacher of young children vary from state to state. The reason many in-person early childhood education programs require a practicum is that they are preparing students to work in child care centers or preschool programs primarily in the local area. The process is streamlined for local residents and educators. If you receive your degree and have not performed a practicum, you will need to start work as a child care assistant under the direction of a qualified teacher, site supervisor or program director. Each state issues permits that will allow teacher assistants to work and gain experience under supervision. Once you have completed this process, you will be qualified to supervise other candidates and obtain additional education and certification.
You may already be a center administrator or lead teacher and want additional education and training. Most programs require teaching field coursework, which is not the identical requirement, but is often referred to as a teaching practicum. Many higher level programs such as Auburn University's online Master's degree programs in special education and early childhood education will arrange teaching experience and training individually. You can speak with a prospective academic program advisor to find out if you can fulfill online degree program requirements while working in the center where you already teach.
You can find many different online degree programs, including associate's, bachelor's and master's degree programs which do not require an early child education practicum. Advancing in the field of education for young children does depend on working in the system of supervising teachers and center directors. Unpaid work experience where you receive on the job training and guidance is an integral part of the education and teacher development systems. Teachers are sometimes put into classrooms with little experience, supervision or training, but this is not the ideal. Look for a program that combines online education and the ability to work as a classroom assistant in your community.
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