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What is Early Childhood Education?

Delaware is a small Northeastern State that is trying to become one of the top performing school systems in the entire country. The state won the federal race to the top competition in 2010 and was given $119 million dollars in the form of a four-year grant that is to be applied towards education reform in the state. Additionally, the state won the race to The Top Early Learning Challenge. This was an achievement specifically aimed at improving early childhood education.

The state is funding professional development courses and opportunities that allow teachers to gain qualifications for career advancements and they are looking for ways to provide higher compensation. All of these factors are leading the way toward developing one of the best public-school systems in the nation.

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Steps to Become an Early Childhood Education Teacher in Delaware

Anyone who wants a career that will have a direct impact on children will want to seriously consider this choice. Those who work in early childhood education and as Preschool teachers have the chance to have a direct and significant impact on the children they work with. The best candidate for a job in early childhood education will have good communication skills, they will be service-oriented, and they will have well-developed listening skills. Other needed skills for this position are patience and integrity. A good candidate will have the ability to be adaptable and to adjust to new situations quickly. This state offers opportunities for adults who are already working to earn an appropriate degree online as well as through traditional avenues.

Step 1. Complete A State-Approved Educator Preparation Program

To get started you will need to successfully enter and pass a state-approved early childhood educator preparation program. This program will be offered through regionally accredited universities or colleges. The university you go to has to have accreditation by either the National Association of State Directors of Teaching Education and Certification or by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. The program must result in certification.

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Once you have completed the preparation program and earned an undergraduate or postgraduate degree in early childhood education you would then need to enter and complete a student teaching program that lasts for 91 days. The state of Delaware also offers alternative routes for earning your teacher licensure and certifications. These alternative routes will require you to have a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college. The major of the degree has to be related to early childhood education. The degree has to have included a minimum of 30 credit hours in early childhood education.

Another alternative would be to have a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited university with any major and then have enrolled in a state-approved teacher residency program. You will also be required to have passing scores on the Praxis 1 exam or similar examinations such as the ACT or SAT. Those wanting to use an alternative route for achieving their teacher licensure or certification will need to enter a summer institute and gain 120 instructional hours of training at the beginning of a teaching assignment.

If the teacher enrolls in Teach for America, they will need at least 200 hours of pre-service training. It's also necessary to get at least one year of full-time practicum experience, including at least a 30-week time frame where you receive mentoring and supervision on the job. During the first year of teaching, you will also need to get a minimum of 200 instructional hours and these will need to include student development, curriculum, and learning.

Step 2. Get A Passing Score on The Content Examination

Once a candidate has completed their teacher preparation, they will then need to pass the Praxis II content examination (5024). This test covers Education of Young Children. The exam will test you in areas of childhood development and learning, developmentally appropriate practices, assessment, documentation and observation, knowledge of teaching, content pedagogy and knowledge, as well as professionalism, community, and family. The minimum passing score is 160 and you will need to schedule the exam through the ETS.

Step 3. Register with DEEDS and Apply for Your Initial License and Standard Certificate

Once you register with the Delaware Educator Data System you will be able to apply for both your initial license and standard certificate. These have to be applied for at the same time. If for any reason you fail to meet any requirements for certification then the license would not be issued. Your first license will be valid for three years. The standard certificate is a requirement to teach preschool in the state. Anyone with a certificate has all the required education and training put forth by the state of Delaware. When you apply for your certificate you will need to provide official transcripts from your college and your PRAXIS 2 scores.

Step 4. Complete All State Requirements for Your Initial Licensure

At this point, you can be hired as a preschool teacher and you will begin your induction program. This takes place over a one-year timeframe. A mentor will help you during this time so that you become adjusted to the school and to the states teaching standards. You will also work with your mentor to develop your role as a preschool teacher. Your mentor will have to document a minimum of 30 continuing education hours (called “clock hours”) that you spend with them during this induction period. Once you've completed your first-year induction period you will then enter the next phase of your second and third years. Your employer will provide you with all the activities that you must attend.

Step 5. You Now Will Apply for Your Continuing License

Once your three-year initial license expires you will need to apply for your continuing license. In order to get this license, you will need to have received a satisfactory annual evaluation by your school during each of the three years you worked under your initial licensure. If you had more than one unsatisfactory evaluation you will not qualify to get your continuing license.

The continuing license will be good for another 5 years and you will be able to renew it as long as you have completed a minimum of 90 clock hours during the renewal period. These are satisfactorily completed with professional development activities that improve your performance with the students, the district, the school, or your profession but they must be pre-approved by your district or school.

Step 6. Get Your Advanced Teaching License

At this point, you are well established in your career. This makes you eligible to apply for an advanced license which will then be good for the next 10 years so long as you receive certification by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. You will then be able to renew this license as long as you maintain proficiency.

Popular Career Choices

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

Online Early Childhood Education in Delaware

Those who want to seek out other opportunities besides working within the public-school system will be glad to know that those opportunities exist. Early care and education and school-age centers provide early childhood education in particular settings. These centers are fully licensed by the state and are managed or monitored under the Department of Services for Children, Youth and Families.

The majority of these centers work with children ages 3 and 4 but there are some that work with toddlers. These centers will often work with the children both before and after school and during the summer recess. Some of them are part of a private community-based business and some are run by community or church organizations.

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There are also home-based programs that will offer very similar learning environments for children, but they are done within the home environment. Some of these programs also work with the children in helping them develop activities that allow the child to explore their own interests. To take full advantage of these opportunities you will need to possess all the state required certifications, including the Child Development Associate credential (CDA and possibly also a passing score on the TECE I and II. You'll also need several months of actual work experience with preschool-age children.

Top Early Childhood Teacher Preparation Programs in Delaware

  • Wilmington University

    This not-for-profit private institution is part of the state's only Teach for America Center. It provides a BS in early care and education which will qualify you to work with children between birth up to grade 2. It also meets the requirements for K through 6. You also have the opportunity to earn a master's in education which qualifies for K through 6 as well.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Early Childhood Education and Teaching, B.S.
    • Education, General; B.S. & M.S.
    • Education/Teaching of the Gifted and Talented, M.S.
    • Educational Leadership and Administration, M.S. & EdD
    • Elementary Education and Teaching, B.S. & M.S.
    • Reading Teacher Education, M.S.
    • Special Education & Teaching, M.S.
    • ESL Teacher, M.S.

    Accreditation By: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

  • Delaware State University

    At this University you can earn a BS in childhood education as well as a master of arts for curriculum and instruction of children of all grades. Students attending this school will be able to participate in the state's Early Childhood lab school. This is a facility that is on site and licensed to serve childhood learners from the local community.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Early Childhood Education and Teaching, B.S.
    • Education, General, B.S. & M.S.
    • Educational Leadership and Administration, B.S., M.S. & EdD
    • Elementary Education and Teaching, B.S.
    • Health Teacher Education, B.S.
    • Physical Education/Teaching and Coaching, B.S.
    • Special Education and Teaching, B.S.
    • ESL Instructor, B.S.

    Accreditation By: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

  • University of Delaware

    This is the state's biggest university. It offers a BS degree in early childhood education as well as a master's in instruction that is good for Pre-K through 12. For those who want to go on to earn their Doctorate in Education, they can do so at this university. This allows those individuals to seek out leadership roles in academia as well as outside those settings.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Early Childhood Education and Teaching, B.S.
    • Educational Leadership and Administration, M.S. & EdD
    • Elementary Education and Teaching, A.S. & B.S.
    • Special Education and Teaching, M.S.
    • Elementary Education and Teaching, B.S.
    • ESL Instructor, M.S.

    Accreditation By: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Potential Careers and Salaries for Graduates in Delaware

In recent years Delaware has had one of the highest concentrations of preschool teacher jobs available in the nation. This makes it a great state to consider entering this career. The Delaware Department of Labor says that the availability of these positions is currently considered excellent.

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The median yearly salary of special education and kindergarten teachers is upwards of over $50,000. Education administrators and those in the childcare industry that work in early childhood education earn a median yearly salary of over $38,000. The state currently employs over 2,000 teachers in Early Education and projections are good over the next several years for the state and its anticipated growth in this area.

Although Delaware is relatively small, it's opportunities in early education are above average. It ranks in the top 20 salaries when compared to the same position in other states. Anyone who puts in the extra effort to specialize will find that they have a choice of positions.

Occupation Entry-Level Mid-Career Late-Career
Preschool Teacher $21,300 $28,300 $35,300
Elementary School Teacher $34,900 $51,700 $54,000
Middle School Teacher $25,000 $43,000 71,000
Professor of Education $60,200 $82,600 $96,300
Elementary School Principle $73,500 $78,900 $86,500
Special Education Teacher $43,200 $47,400 $58,000

Although public schools do employ the greatest majority of people in the field of early childhood education there are a number of career paths that are related. Private schools, tutoring, and home teaching outlets are among those additional opportunities. The state of Delaware is doing everything in its power to become one of the best states in the Nation for public education. It is a great state to consider going into the career of early childhood education.

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