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Early Childhood Education

Industry Description
As the number of parents working outside the home increases, the need for quality childcare continues to grow both locally and nationally. Education and training has been identified as one of the key factors to decrease the current rate of staff turnover in childcare settings. Early childhood educators work with children from birth to age eight in childcare and early learning settings.

Paraprofessionals are assistants in classroom settings who provide instructional support for pre-K-12 classroom teachers. By providing students with individualized instruction, teacher assistants tutor and assist children in learning course materials. Teacher assistants also supervise students in the cafeteria and playground. They record grades, set up equipment, and help prepare materials for instruction. Teacher assistants are also called teacher aides, instructional aides, paraeducators or paraprofessionals. The federal legislation No Child Left Behind requires newly hired paraprofessionals to complete two years of college, obtain an Associate Degree, or to pass a rigorous test.

Certified teachers in the K-12 school system are required to hold a bachelor's degree, complete a state-approved teacher preparation program at a regionally accredited college/university, and pass a basic skills test and a test for each endorsement. A teacher is responsible for implementing required curriculum in the classroom, assessing student progress, managing classroom discipline, communicating with parents, working cooperatively with other professionals and adhering to all school district policies.
 

Department Overview
Early Childhood Education prepares students to enter the childcare and early learning field as highly skilled caregivers or early learning professionals who can immediately contribute to the development and growth of a child. The Early Childhood Education curriculum promotes high quality learning and play in early care and educational settings. Opportunities for the ongoing professional development of caregivers is also included. Students have the opportunity to apply newly acquired skills and knowledge through participation in cooperative work experiences. Certified teachers may apply specific courses towards continuing education credits. In an effort to accommodate currently employed students, Early Childhood Education courses are generally offered in late afternoon or evenings. Program curriculum is reviewed by an advisory board composed of local and regional early learning professionals.  

Degrees
Students may earn an Associate in Applied Arts and Sciences Degree in Early Childhood Education upon completion of the two-year program of study. This degree allows graduates to enter the workforce. A certificate in Early Childhood Education is available upon completion of one year of the program.

An Associate in Applied Science-Transfer (AAS-T) degree in Early Childhood Education is also offered for students planning to transfer to a four-year college or university.

Students may earn an Associate of Arts in Elementary Education (DTA) upon completion of a two-year program. This degree transfers to four-year university programs in Elementary Education. This degree also allows students to work as education paraprofessionals in the K-12 school system.


Career Opportunities
  • Pre-School Teacher or Assistant
  • Child Care Provider
  • Child Care Center Teacher
  • Child Care Center Director
  • Paraeducator


Scholarships
Washington Scholarships are available for students who are currently working in childcare and early learning settings.



Entrance Requirements
Students may begin their study in the ECE programs in any quarter. A placement test offered by the Student Development Center must be completed prior to admission to the program.

WSP criminal background check is required to enroll in the program. READ 088 is the minimum level recommended to enroll in ECE courses above 100 level and is required at degree completion. Some courses require permission of the faculty advisor to enroll.


Other Information
Early Childhood Education coursework is typically offered in late afternoon, evenings and on weekends to accommodate students who are working. WAOL courses are available every quarter.

For additional information including regional employment data, completion rates, student characteristics, and employment see http://www.wtb.wa.gov/etp.