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What is Early Childhood Education?

If you are interested in a teaching position, then you may want to consider a career in early education or as a preschool teacher. This particular job will allow you to work with children from infancy through the third grade which is typically about eight or nine years old. Being an early education or preschool teacher means that you will play a very significant role in the development of children's feelings and beliefs about education and lay the groundwork for the rest of their educational career.

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Steps to Become an Early Childhood Education Teacher in Connecticut

Anyone who pursues this career path will find that it is both rewarding and challenging. It will mean that you will need to have a great deal of integrity, you will need to be dependable and you will have to be adaptable. Because the majority of teachers who choose this career path do so out of a genuine love of learning and teaching, they will find the opportunity to work with children to be the most rewarding. Having this significant impact does mean accepting tremendous responsibility and will allow you to visibly see the impact you're having.

Teachers of all age groups and levels play a very significant role in the lives of their students. But there is no teacher that has more influence and impact than those who work with very young children. The reason is that these children are at an age when their personalities are still developing and their beliefs about education and other areas of life are formed and this means that the teacher has a direct and significant impact on the children they work with.

Here we'll take a look at the steps you can take to become a preschool teacher or early educator in Connecticut.

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Popular Career Choices

  • Preschool Teacher
  • Kindergarten Teacher
  • Elementary School Teacher
  • Special Education Teacher

Online Accredited Teaching Preparation Programs

In Connecticut, there are over 6,000 Preschool teachers and they all must meet the minimum requirements for the position. The Board of Education within the state wants these young children to have the chance to participate in quality preschool programs. Teachers will need to be certified to work in public settings.

Step 1. A State Approved Educator Preparation Program Must Be Completed

There are two program types to choose from in the state of Connecticut. The first allows you to work with children from infancy to kindergarten; called endorsement 112. With this certification, you are able to work with special education children as well as regular children from the age of birth through kindergarten.

The second choice is endorsement 113. This also allows you to work with special education children and regular children, ages 3 through kindergarten, and allows you to work with regular students that are in grades 1 to 3. You will need to choose the certification program that matches your goals.

Connecticut has four programs for early childhood education: these include ages birth to kindergarten that can be obtained at the undergraduate level, two additional choices at graduate level, and finally, one for post-baccalaureate level. To be accepted into one of these programs you will need to provide the state with proof that you have taken an SAT, GRE, ACT, or PPA exam. Another choice would be to take a PRAXIS 1 exam and score at least 172 on the reading, 171 on the writing, and 171 on the mathematics section.

There is an alternative certification process. Anyone who already has a bachelor's degree in early childhood education, that they received from a regionally accredited college or university, while maintaining a 3.0 GPA or higher, might qualify for certification. There are four main components of certification which include: student teaching, pre-program activities, program completion and certification, and program activities.

There is a chance that, even if you don't have a 3.0 GPA, you could still qualify under the alternative route if you have 24 semester hours of graduate-level coursework. This could qualify you for the ARC program and could allow you to get a temporary permit to teach preschool. Within this certification, you would choose either birth to kindergarten or nursery to grade 3.

Step 2. Pass the Praxis Exam

Those who are being certified for the age groups of birth to kindergarten will not be required to take the Praxis II exam but those who want to be certified for nursery to grade 3 and above must do so. This will mean taking Content Knowledge for Early Childhood (5022) and Education of Young Children (5021). To pass you will need at least a score of 156 on the Content Knowledge exam and at least 158 on the Education of Young Children exam.

These exams will be taken and monitored at an approved testing center and are computer-based. You can get information about their requirement for certification in Connecticut through the ETS website. You can also find out how to register and schedule the exam there.

Step 3. Get Your Initial Educator Certificate

Once you have met the other qualifications, it will then be necessary for you to apply to get your IEC. This will mean you must register with the Connecticut Educator Certification System. Once you've completed that process you can then apply for your IEC. You will need to pay a $50 application fee and that can be done online. The process will require you sending all of your official transcripts to the department. The Bureau of Educator Standards and Certification is available to answer any questions you might have when it comes to the application process or registration.

Step 4. Get Your Provisional and Professional Educator Certificate

Once a participant’s initial certification expires, they will then need to obtain their Connecticut Provisional Educator Certificate. This certification is valid for a full eight years. While holding the certification, it will be necessary to attain a minimum of 30 school months of experience within early childhood education and you will also need to complete 30 semester hours of coursework that is beyond your bachelor's degree. These qualifications are necessary in order to receive and retain your Professional Educator Certificate.

Because Connecticut has particularly strict requirements, most teachers will enter their postgraduate or master's degree program to help them meet the necessary requirements. As of the summer of 2016, the Department of Education mandates that all teachers must have a master's degree before getting their Professional Educator Certificate in Connecticut.

Alternative Programs to Teaching in Public Schools

Although Connecticut is fairly strict in its qualifications for teaching within public schools, there are some alternative choices. Each of these alternatives has their own requirements for preschool teachers. Child care centers that are licensed through the Connecticut Department of Public Health hire head teachers that either possess CDA credentials or who have a minimum of 12 credits in early childhood education along with 1080 hours of documented experience.

There are School Readiness programs that are run through child care centers and these teachers can possess similar credentials to the ones listed just above or they can have a bachelor’s degree along with 12 credits in childhood education or development to qualify for the position. Federal Head Start programs employ preschool teachers with a four-year degree,and private schools each have their own minimum requirements. Family child care homes that are licensed by the state require that a person be at least 20 years of age and they need to have six hours of first aid training.

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To get the Child Development Association credential you will need to contact the Council of Professional Recognition. It will be necessary to finish 120 hours of professional education along with gaining 480 hours of professional experience. You'll also need a professional portfolio if you want to get this credential which is nationally recognized.

Potential Careers and Salaries for Graduates

The figures vary substantially depending on where you’re hired, the qualifications of the teacher, and the years of experience. The lowest 10% can earn as little as $20,000 a year while the top 10% can earn over $60,000 a year. A teacher in the state averages a little over $35,000 a year and the state has a plan in place to increase that over 14% between now and the year 2022.

Connecticut is currently in the top 5 States for the highest number of preschool teacher jobs available according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Over 90% of the teachers in the state are employed in the public-school system and the highest paid teachers were those in public administration. These teachers make an average median salary of over $40,000 a year.

Occupation Entry-Level Mid-Career Late-Career
Preschool Teacher $25,100 $31,9500 $39,700
Elementary School Teacher $37,000 $58,000 $79,000
Professor of Education $60,200 $83,600 $134,500
Special Education Teacher $55,400 $61,000 $79,100
ESL Teacher $38,400 $41,200 $55,900
School Psychologist $60,600 $61,000 $73,400

Top Early Childhood Teacher Preparation Programs in Connecticut

  • University of Hartford

    The campus has 320 Acres and is located just five miles away from Connecticut's capital. This is a private non-profit institution and has more than 7,000 students and a faculty ratio of 14 to 1.

    Degrees Offered:

    • School Counseling and Guidance Services, M.S.
    • Early Childhood Education and Teaching, B.S. & M.S.
    • Education/Teaching of Individuals with Hearing Impairments Including Deafness, M.S.
    • Educational Leadership & Administration, EdD
    • Elementary Education and Teaching, B.S. & M.S.
    • Special Education and Teaching, B.S. & M.S.

    It offers a BS degree in early childhood education and can prepare you for endorsements for both the birth to age 5 or the nursery through grade three endorsements. The school offers real-world opportunities to gain teaching experience and helps with local placements. If attendees maintain a 3.5 GPA,they will be able to participate in an honors program that includes an internship. If you want to get ahead on your coursework you can even take online classes during the summer term.

    Accredited By: General Accreditation by the New England Commission of Higher Education

  • Eastern Connecticut State University

    This is the state’s second oldest run institute and was established in 1889. Its campus is 182 Acres and is ranked as one of the best values when getting your degree. It is also ranked in the top 100 colleges and in the top 30 best public schools. As well as offering all the necessary programs that lead to teaching credentials, it allows the candidates to select a major in sociology, English, liberal studies, mathematics, or psychology.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Elementary Education and Teaching, B.S. & M.S.
    • Kindergarten/Preschool Education and Teaching, B.S. & M.S.
    • Physical Education Teaching and Coaching, B.S. & M.S.
    • Reading Teacher Education, M.S.

    The university requires that candidates apply for admissions to the Committee on Admission and Retention and Education known as (CARE), and they must complete their studies in a way that meets the Connecticut Common Core requirements. There are 38 credit credentials that include primary writing, literacy, child development, play therapy, and inclusive special education. You will be required to pass the CT Early Childhood test before you can exit the program successfully.

    Accreditation By: General Accreditation by the New England Commission of Higher Education3

  • Central Connecticut State University

    This is a 314-acre campus located in New Britain. The university has over 12,000 students and is a regionally accredited 4-year public institution. The Association of American Colleges and Universities named it one of the top ‘Leadership Institutions’. Itis often ranked as a top public school and it has a program designed to grow the pedagogical skills of licensed teachers in the state.

    Degrees Offered:

    • School Counseling and Guidance Services, M.S.
    • Educational Leadership & Administration, M.S. & EdD
    • Elementary Education and Teaching, B.S. & M.S.
    • Kindergarten/Preschool Education and Teaching, B.S. & M.S.
    • Physical Education Teaching and Coaching, B.S., M.S. & Post-grad Certificate
    • Reading Teacher Education, M.S. & Post-grad Certificate
    • Special Education and Teaching, M.S. & Post-grad Certificate
    • Superintendency and Educational System Administration, Post-grad Certificate
    • ESL Language Instructor, M.S.

    Part of its program includes a learning assessment, learning about school diversity, educational research, and curriculum design. Teachers will then be given the opportunity to choose a specialization in leadership or directorship. They can also choose to work with urban education or families. They will have a Capstone that is devoted to a research project that helps local elementary schools.

    Accreditation By: General Accreditation by the New England Commission of Higher Education

  • University of Connecticut

    This is a premier flagship public institution with over 31,000 students. It has over 4,400 acres that make up its campus and is rated by Kiplinger as one of the top universities. U.S. News says that it is one of the top 20 Public Schools and is considered to be one of the top 75 best-accredited education programs in the US.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Education, General & Other;Post-graduate Certificate
    • Education/Teaching of individuals in Elementary Special Education Programs, Post-graduate Certificate
    • Educational Leadership & Administration; M.S., EdD & Post-graduate Certificate
    • Elementary Education and Teaching, B.S.
    • Physical Education Teaching and Coaching, B.S.
    • Reading Teacher Education, Post-grad Certificate
    • Special Education and Teaching; B.S., M.S., EdD, & Post-grad Certificate

    The Bachelor of Arts offered here in Early Childhood Development is structured so that students develop a foundational knowledge needed for preschool teachers. Undergraduates specialize in serving either private or public programs.

    Accreditation By: General Accreditation by the New England Commission of Higher Education

If you have the desire to make a career in early childhood education or as a preschool teacher, then any one of the universities listed above would make a fine choice. The state of Connecticut has substantial opportunities in this segment of employment and it is expected to grow over the next decade. This makes this career path in the state a solid and stable choice.

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