What is Early Childhood Education?
Despite constant changes, early childhood education remains an evolving field. Children's development is understood better as we learn more about teaching methods and approaches for young children. Students who earn an early childhood education degree are prepared to work with children from birth to age eight in child care centers, preschools, and elementary schools.
It is true that early childhood education cannot be applied one-size-fits-all, but most programs focus on providing safe and nurturing environments for children. A child development program teaches instructional strategies, behavior management, and child development. As well as gaining experience in classrooms, students gain practical experience in other forms of education as well. Graduates of early childhood education programs can pursue careers as educators, administrators, or researchers.
Steps to Become an Early Childhood Education Teacher in Maine
While ECE teachers are some of the most important parts of this equation, other professionals also play a major role in a child’s cognitive development. Caregivers, family, and friends all take part in starting a young child’s learning. In Maine, ECE staff offer resources to educational staff in Head Start centers and preschools. Even when a child is playing with blocks, art supplies, and other toys they are learning. Maine’s ECE staffers know this.
Step 1. Earn Your Degree
Your early childhood education career begins in the classroom. No matter whether you begin in an associate or bachelor’s program, you need to gain the education and information you’ll need in your career as an early childhood educator.
If you’re already a working professional, look for an off-campus program that allows you to earn a B.S. in Early Childhood Education. Each educational program will focus on a particular developmental area in the life of a child — birth to three years, birth to five years, toddler to first grade and so on.
Make sure that you pay attention to the program you join. Not only do you need to complete a bachelor degree, but you also need to finish a teacher preparation program. The majority of bachelor degree programs make sure that this is included, so your degree culminates in a teaching license, but you’ll still want to double check with every school you consider, to make sure they’re offering exactly what you need. So, when you graduate, you’ll be ready to look for teaching jobs.
However, if you complete a bachelor’s degree, but not a teacher preparation program, all is not lost. Maine allows degree holders to be certified as early childhood teachers if they complete certain extra college coursework. If your degree was in anything child-related, your college coursework you’ve already completed may cover much of it.
Step 2. Pass Your Exams
After you graduate, you’ll have to take at least one required licensing exam. Every state has different requirements, with most states requiring recent education graduates to take a national PRAXIS exam. In Maine you must complete the PRAXIS I and II, which covers Core Academic Skills for Educators: Reading, Writing, and Mathematics; and Education of Young Children.
Once you’ve passed both tests and obtained a Provisional Teaching Certificate, you’ll need to upgrade it after the first 2 years. Plan on taking continuing education hours so you’ll be able to keep your license active.
Step 3. Apply, Renew, and Upgrade Your Licenses
You’ll apply for you Provisional Teaching Certificate by filling out the form you can find online. There is a fee, and you’ll need copies of your credentials, including college transcripts and test scores.
After your initial certificate runs out, you will upgrade to a Professional Certificate. You will need to have completed your new teacher induction, taught full-time in Maine for 2 years, completed the action plan that you put together with the help of your school district, been given a positive review by your district, and finished 6 credit hours in early childhood courses. The professional license is valid for 5 years.
Popular Career Choices:
- Preschool Teacher
- Kindergarten Teacher
- Elementary School Teacher
- Special Education Teacher
Online Early Childhood Education in Maine
ECE students at the community college level are required to meet specific standards as set by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). In Maine, successful graduates are required to start a record with the State Bureau of Identification (SBI) and have a child protective report on file with the community college they attended. Students at this level can go on to earn an Education Advanced Certificate. With this certification, students will be ready to work as a K-12 Education Technician III or an educational professional.
Students can opt to earn an early elementary (K-grade 3) teacher certificate. To obtain a full Maine certification, the student should complete a Baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited university.
A bachelor’s degree in early childhood education allows you to gain real-life practice in classroom skills, current curriculum, classroom observation, and assessment tools. Upon graduation and licensure, you’ll be ready to work in the Birth to Five-year Infant Care/Preschool/Public Pre-K areas; or the K-3rd grade as an Elementary/Primary Grades teacher.
Accredited Early Childhood Educator Teacher Education Programs
As you check out early childhood education degree or certificate programs, you should also look for each school’s accreditation status. The entire college or university should have an institutional accreditation. Your ECE program should be accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) or another similar agency such as NCATE or TEAC. Once you find this, you’ll know that the teaching material and faculty are both of the highest quality.
Top Early Childhood Teacher Preparation Programs in Maine
The importance of accreditation can never be overstated. Your entire career as an early childhood educator rides on that official recognition given to the school of your choice.
If you compare an accredited program with an unaccredited program, you’ll soon realize that accreditation gives you something of a safety margin. CAEP accredits early childhood education programs at all institutional levels; trade schools, community colleges, undergraduate and graduate-level programs.
Another accrediting organization is the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).
- University of Maine – Farmington
- Early Childhood Education and Teaching; BS. & MS.
- Education/Teaching of Individuals in Early Childhood Special Education Programs; BS.
- Education/Teaching of the Gifted and Talented; Post-grad Certificate
- Elementary Education and Teaching; BS.
- Special Education and Teaching; BS.
Accreditation By: The New England Commission of Higher Education; CAEP
- University of Maine
- School Counseling and Guidance Services: MS., Dr., & Post-grad Certificate
- Early Childhood Education and Teaching; Post-grad Certificate
- Elementary Education and Teaching; BS., MS., & Post-grad Certificate
- Reading Teacher Education; MS., Dr., & Post-grad Certificate
- Special Education and Teaching; MS. & Post-grad Certificate
- ESL Teaching; Post-grad Certificate
Accreditation By: The New England Commission of Higher Education; NCATE
- University of Southern Maine
- School Counseling and Guidance Services: MS. & Post-grad Certificate
- Teaching of Individuals with Hearing Impairments Including Deafness; Post-grad Certificate
- Teaching of Individuals with Specific Learning Disabilities; Post-grad Certificate
- Teaching of the Gifted and Talented; Post-grad Certificate
- Elementary and Middle School Administration/Principalship; Post-grad Certificate
- Montessori Teacher Education; MS.
- Multicultural Education; Post-grad Certificate
- Reading Teacher Education; MS. & Post-grad Certificate
- Special Education and Teaching; MS. & Post-grad Certificate
- ESL Teaching; MS. & Post-grad Certificate
Accreditation By: The New England Commission of Higher Education; TEAC
Potential Careers and Salaries for Graduates
|Elementary School Teacher||$44,200||$49,400||$52,100|
|Professor of Education||$83,600||$105,100||$134,500|
|Special Education Teacher||$41,200||$46,400||$58,000|
Maine Preschool Teacher Careers Options
- Public Schools
If your goal is to become a preschool teacher in a public school, you’ll be able to encourage your young students how to develop their ability to engage with others. You’ll also foster an encouraging and creative learning environment within your classroom and teach your students using interactive methods, so they learn their numbers and letters. Expect to work with children from the ages of 2 to 5.
- Private Childcare
if private childcare is your goal, you’ll work with a small number of young children or just one child. You can earn an associate degree in Early Childhood Education, then begin working as a teacher in a private home. Once you’ve gained some teaching experience, you may qualify to apply for a childcare center position.
- Private Schools
Working in a private school, you’re required to earn your degree in Early Childhood Education or a related field. Depending on the facility, you should have prior preschool teaching experience in one of several educational styles (Montessori, Reggio Emilia, or another discipline). You should be skilled as an early childhood educator, able to connect easily with your students.
- Head Start Programs
Working in a Head Start program, you’ll be working with children whose parents have low incomes. With a high-quality education, you’ll be prepared to teach your Head Start students by exposing them to a variety of experiences and subjects. As an Early Childhood Education teacher in a Head Start Center, you’ll work with children from the ages of three to five years.
- Community-Based Programs
Community-based learning is civic engagement learning. Very young children are easily capable of learning in a community-based program. The material you teach to your young students will be culturally responsible. It will help you make your classroom engaging and inclusive. It will help if you can support dual-language learners.
- Faith-Based Programs
Faith-based programs need Early Childhood Education teachers. Along with teaching your students numbers and letters, you’ll teach them Bible stories and relate them to real, current life. You’ll also engage them in other activities related to the faith topic that you have been teaching.
- Military Programs
The Early Childhood Education courses that you take if you plan to teach in a military Early Childhood Education program will be the same as those taught to students who plan to teach in a civilian school.
You may add learning material that is based on the country in which you and your young students are based, such as Japan, Germany, Spain, Italy, or Portugal.