Career and Technical Education: The Building Blocks of Early Childhood Education

By Gibbs, Hope J. | Techniques, March 2004 | Go to article overview

Career and Technical Education: The Building Blocks of Early Childhood Education


Gibbs, Hope J., Techniques


Nationwide, there is a growing understanding of the connection between quality early childhood education and future academic success. In almost every article, study and report, the following words are found somewhere in the text: children who attend high-quality preschool are more successful in kindergarten and beyond-both academically and socially.

The focus and increased appreciation of early childhood education has picked up momentum over the past decade with the growing awareness by both parents and educators that the earliest years of a child's life can pave the way for his or her future educational success. In response, facilities have popped up all over the country to meet the needs of this growing industry, and that means opportunities abound for the students interested in a career in early childhood care and education.

According to the U.S. government's Occupational Outlook Handbook, employment of preschool teachers and childcare workers is projected to increase faster than the average for all occupations through the year 2006. High turnover, combined with rapid job growth, are expected to create many openings for preschool teachers and child-care workers. This is great news for the serious-minded student who has the desire to teach and interact with young children in their most formative years.

Educational institutions across the country are meeting the demand for individuals possessing the technical skills required for this growing career. The increase in programs that train the future teachers and child-care providers is evidence that this is one occupational field that will be around for a long time. Most importantly, with the focus on early childhood education on the rise, the quality of the provider is paramount. The National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) is one of the organizations stressing the importance of high-quality programs, and high-quality programs require certified and well-trained preschool teachers, assistants and childcare workers.

Early childhood education programs have not yet been required to meet specific state standards, as do grades from kindergarten and up, so much of the success and benefits of a program is left up to the discerning parent who investigates the providers' qualifications and weighs feedback from parents who have children in the program. The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and the National Association for Early Childhood Specialists in State Departments of Education (NAECS/SDE) have issued a joint position statement regarding the building of an effective, accountable system in programs for children birth through age eight (www.naeyc.org/resources/position_statements/pscape_full.asp). They take the position that "policy makers, the early childhood profession, and other stakeholders in young children's lives have a shared responsibility to construct comprehensive systems of curriculum, assessment, and program evaluation guided by sound early childhood practices, effective early learning standards and program standards, and a set of core principles and values..."

This is a sure sign for the future of the ever-expanding field of early childhood education and the growing need for the best technically skilled people to be working in it.

Career and technical education is answering the growing need for teachers of preschool and beyond in various ways. Schools across the nation are developing programs that allow students exposure to the world of early childhood education. Some facilities have working day care centers and preschools on the premises, giving the students the opportunity to see firsthand what it means to be a teacher or assistant. This is a winwin for all involved. The preschool or day care is monitored for quality, because its success means success for the educational facility housing it. Students exchange ideas and experiences in "real life" situations. In keeping with the spirit of career and technical education's approach of hands-on learning, these schools are producing students with the very best skills. …

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