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What is Early Childhood Education?

Mississippi is often rated as having one of the worst public-school education systems in the country. They have developed a few programs to help combat this stigma. The state of Mississippi has created the Office of Early Childhood Education to better serve all children of prekindergarten age and their families. They have created policies and practices that will lead to a stronger educational experience for children, and they aim to increase demands on teachers by 2020. These initiatives have led to the prekindergarten program in Mississippi being one of the top eight programs in the country that meet national quality standards.

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Steps to Become an Early Childhood Education Teacher in Mississippi

The Mississippi Department of Education is working toward changing the standards and requirements for college education to ensure all potential teachers are career ready the moment they begin teaching. They are also working toward making parents a part of the solution by taking a more proactive role in the educational lives of their children. Additionally, all children are being exposed to technology skill development at a far greater rate than in the past. Employment opportunities will continue to grow. The number of preschool jobs is expected to grow by 10% as a national average by 2026.

Step 1. Earn Your Degree

In the past, teachers did not have to possess many qualifications or pass exams to become a teacher in Mississippi. This is quickly changing as the state is demanding more from their teachers and their students. By 2020, half of all teachers must meet the new qualification standards set forth by the Mississippi Department of Education. By 2022, all teachers must meet these requirements. Such requirements for early childhood education include possession of a Pre-K/K license, a K-3 license, a K-4 license, a K-6 license or complete a bachelor’s degree with an emphasis in child development. Teachers will also be required to complete the Praxis exam.

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Most licenses require the completion of some college credits, an endorsement and training courses. If a teacher wishes to teach children in special education, they will require a specific special education teacher license with the same college credits and training. All teachers must also pass the National Board Five Core Propositions and Standards as established by the Department of Education and teacher preparation courses. And all teachers will be subject to a background check due to the nature of the job.

For those individuals who wish to be an assistant preschool teacher, you will require an associate’s degree in early childhood education or a similar degree. Once the new rules have gone into effect, from 2022 and beyond, the state of Mississippi may begin to require additional educational standards and training for their teachers, such as certificates. If prospective teachers have a degree in another field, they will be required to take the Mississippi Alternate Path to Quality Teachers and have a minimum of 2.75 grade point average (GPA) in their major classes and a 2.5 GPA overall. They must pass the PRAXIS exams, or they can take the Core Academic Skills for Educators test and PRAXIS exam for their area of specialty.

Step 2. Pass Your Exams

Mississippi uses the PRAXIS national standard tests for teacher certification. For early childhood educators the sections you will need to study and pass are: PRAXIS II: Education of Young Children and Principles of Learning and Teaching for Early Childhood. There are testing centers all around Mississippi, and you can go to the Educational Testing Service (ETS) website for practice tests and other preparation material.

Luckily, there are no other tests to complete in Mississippi. However, you can earn a supplemental endorsement with your licensure by taking the appropriate PRAXIS subject assessment. There are several endorsement options which could be of help to an early childhood educator, such as: visually impaired K-12, Special Education K-12, Speech Communications, etc. You an find these on the state board of education website as part of their Guidelines for Educator Licensure.

Step 3. Get Your License

After your tests, you’ll need to actually apply for state licensure. You’ll use the Mississippi Educator Licensure Management System (MELMS) to apply and mail required documentation to the state Board of Education. The online application, or physical application if you request one, will provide you with all necessary information to help you finish this step accurately and quickly.

Step 4. Renew Your License

You may renew the lowest level of standard licenses through the completion of continuing education units (5) and semester hours that focus on job skill areas (3), or you can complete a higher amount of one or the other (10 CEUs, or 6 semester hours). You also have the option to complete the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards process (NBPTS).

The higher levels require half as much; 3 semester hours that focus on job skill areas or 5 CEUs. For these credentials you can also complete the NBPTS process.

Licensure for administrators and reinstatement of an expired license require significantly more effort.

Popular Career Choices

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

Additional Specialized Certifications

There aren’t as many accredited programs in Maine as in some states, but they still provide a range of specializations by way of degree or certificate courses.

There are, of course, the age group specializations. You’ll need to choose which age group you’d like to work with when you look to start your bachelor’s. The age-specific degrees available at CAEP, NCATE, and TEAC accredited schools in Maine are Early Childhood Education and Elementary Education. However, there are many other specializations.

  • ESL Teacher
    These teachers are responsible for teaching children English as a second language. They support the rest of the child’s life by giving them a good grounding in our country’s main language.
  • School Counseling and Guidance Service
    Though this often requires a higher-level degree (MS.), it is vital to the mental health and safety of some children.
  • Teaching of Individuals with Specific Learning Disabilities
    Whether this is autism or dyslexia, your specialized education will help you keep them on track with their education.
  • Teaching of individuals with physical impairments (deafness, blindness, mobility issues, etc.)
    Your courses will teach you everything you need to know to assist these special children and help them complete their classes and get out into the world with confidence.
  • Other specializations include
    Teaching the Gifted and Talented, General Special Education, Reading Teacher, Montessori Teaching, etc.

Top Early Childhood Teacher Preparation Programs in Mississippi

Mississippi is beginning to take education seriously and it has a tremendous impact on the colleges and universities in the state that offer early childhood education and education degree programs. The most prestigious colleges and universities have regional accreditation and their education programs are accredited. They also have memberships to reputable governing bodies and professional associations.

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  • University of Mississippi

    The University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) has one of the best online graduate degree programs in the country. In 2017, they were awarded $10.6 million in funding for research. Graduates of education programs have a 97% rate of successful completion on the Praxis II exam. Over 50% of graduates work in the public-school system in Mississippi. Ole Miss has an extensive degree offering, including degrees in early childhood education, elementary education, and special education. They also offer a number of certificate and endorsement programs for those seeking continuing education and those who do not yet meet the 2020 state requirements for teaching. For individuals who need to work while they complete their degrees, the University of Mississippi offers several reputable online degree programs.

    Degrees Offered:

    • School Counseling and Guidance Services: MS & Dr.
    • General Education; Dr.
    • Elementary Education and Teaching; BS.
    • Reading Teacher Education; MS.
    • Special Education and Teaching; BS.
    • ESL Language Instructor; Post-grad Certificate

    Accreditation By:

    • University of Mississippi - Southern Association of Schools and Colleges
    • Teacher Education Program - The Mississippi Department of Education and the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE)
    • The School of Education - Member of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education
  • Mississippi Valley State University

    Mississippi Valley State University has a strong early childhood education program. Students must complete general courses before they can enroll in the program. It is possible that applicants will not be accepted. All applicants must have a 2.5 GPA from their general courses to be admitted. They must also complete specific program courses prior to being allowed to enroll into method courses. It is important to note that the early childhood education program does not lead to licensures; however, all other education degrees do. The early childhood degree is designed for individuals who wish to work outside of the education system, such as to work at daycares, corporations, and in-home care.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Elementary Education and Teaching; BS. & MS.
    • Kindergarten/Preschool Education and Teaching; BS.
    • Special Education and Teaching; MS.

    Accreditation By:

    • Mississippi Valley State University - Southern Association of Schools and Colleges Education Degrees - The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE)
  • Mississippi State University

    Mississippi State University has extensive education degree offerings. Program participants benefit from small class sizes and hands-on experience. Each program aims to prepare prospective teachers, counselors, administrators, and others to be leaders. Programs focus on practice, knowledge, research, clinical training, and technology tools. Students will be trained to work in diverse working environments due to the continuing changing cultural makeup of the country and the world. Students can pursue bachelor's degrees, master’s degrees, doctoral degrees and educational specializations. Those who participate in these programs will have exposure to international opportunities. The faculty is always dedicated to teaching participants to be knowledgeable and to be as professional as possible.

    Degrees Offered:

    • School Counseling and Guidance Services: MS. & Dr.
    • General Education; Dr. & Post-grad Certificate
    • Elementary and Middle School Administration; Dr.
    • Elementary Education and Teaching; BS. & MS.
    • Special Education and Teaching; BS. & MS.

    Accreditation By:

    • Mississippi State University - Southern Association of Schools and Colleges
    • Education Programs - State Department of Education of Mississippi
    • Education Degrees - The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE)
    • Elementary Education - Association for Childhood Education International
    • Educational Leadership - Educational Leadership Constituent Council
    • Special Education - Council for Exceptional Children
  • Jackson State University

    The Department of Elementary and Early Childhood Education at Jackson State University focuses on preparing future educators to be able to work with all children regardless of their abilities, backgrounds, cultures, and ages. Graduates go on to become teachers, administrators, professors, state department employees, and consultants. This high caliber of employment is due to the stellar reputation of their elementary and early childhood education degree programs. The education department is one of the most popular degree programs at the university. The programs are dedicated to a personal approach and to actively participating in the community. The professors also advise program participants so that they are able to learn theories, become highly knowledgeable, and meet educational standards. Participants will spend time focusing on cultural influences in learning and curriculum creation.

    Degrees Offered:

    • School Counseling and Guidance Services: MS.
    • General Education; Post-grad Certificate
    • Elementary Education and Teaching; BS. & MS.
    • Kindergarten/Preschool Education and Teaching; MS. & Dr.
    • Reading teacher Education; MS. & Post-grad Certificate
    • Special Education and Teaching; BS. & MS.

    Accreditation By:

    • Jackson State University - Southern Association of Schools and Colleges
    • Education Degrees - Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation
    • Education Degrees - National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE)
    • Member of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education
    • Member of the Mississippi Association of Colleges for Teacher Education
  • Alcorn State University

    The School of Education and Psychology at Alcorn State University provides several degree programs to prepare prospective teachers for the unique and diverse environment in which they will work. The programs prepare participants to become highly qualified and to care about the well-being, health, and education of all students to be able to provide them with the greatest chance for success throughout their educational careers. The elementary education programs are centered around teaching, clinical experiences, classwork, and professionalism. All program participants will have an opportunity to be involved in internships to receive experience before degree completion.

    Degrees Offered:

    • Elementary Education and Teaching; BS., MS., & Post-grad Certificate

    Accreditation By:

    • Alcorn State University - Southern Association of Schools and Colleges
    • Education Degrees - Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation

Potential Careers and Salaries for Graduates

The salary prospective in Mississippi will continue to grow as funding becomes more available. The state is taking steps in the right direction to make the education profession on par with the rest of the country. People who work in support roles will make less than teachers. If you have a master’s degree, you will make more than someone with a bachelor’s degree. And if you wish to become a principal, you will likely require a master’s degree. Those who wish to become a professor will require a doctoral degree. Also, keep in mind that teachers who work in cities typically make more than those in rural areas, and private schools typically provide higher salaries than public schools.

Search Programs Offering Early Childhood Education Majors

Occupation Entry-Level Mid-Career Late-Career
Preschool Teacher $24,000 $32,200 $32,200
Elementary School Teacher $43,500 $49,000 $60,000
Professor of Education $80,300 $91,500 $99,000
ESL Teacher $39,300 $40,500 $50,900

Where You Can Work as a Maine Preschool Teacher

  • 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.

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