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What is Early Childhood Education?

South Carolina's Early Childhood Education just got a big shot in the arm. In early 2019, the state government voted to provide over $1 million to a total of 15 school districts statewide. The budget initiative, slated solely for 4-K students, is sure to have a large impact.

Young students and their parents will benefit from the boost to their local PreK programs, but their city and state economy will benefit, too. University of Chicago economist James J. Heckman contends that communities reap great economic rewards when they invest in preschool. Heckman's research has shown that the return is between 7 and 10 percent. Heckman was quoted saying, "The highest rate of return in early childhood development comes from investing as early as possible, from birth through age five, in disadvantaged families. Starting at age three or four is too little too late, as it fails to recognize that skills beget skills in a complementary and dynamic way."

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Steps to Become an Early Childhood Education Teacher in South Carolina

The first step to becoming an Early Childhood Preschool Teacher in South Carolina is determining whether this is the career for you. You will literally have the lives of youngsters in your hands. Though the children may seem to have no long-term memory, preschool forms the foundation for all future learning and development. If you have heard the call to work with children as your career path, your first step is to achieve a formal education in the field, verify your learning with exams, and then complete other legal formalities. The steps are:

Teaching is one of the most difficult, underappreciated jobs our culture has to offer. Yet, it is necessary for the upcoming generation. Everyone needs teachers in order to achieve what they want out of life. Despite the occasional feeling of being under-appreciated, teaching is one of the most rewarding professions out there.

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When you hear the calling to teach Early Childhood Education, you are likely thinking of the joy and importance of offering nurture and intellectual stimulation to a young child. Issues such as pay, benefits, and other's opinions are likely the furthest thing from your mind. That's why you should teach – because you have a true desire to do the work of facilitating success in our future generations.

Step 1. Earn Your Degree

The first major step towards teaching in a classroom is to complete an accredited, teacher-preparation early childhood education program from a South Carolina college or university. Most such programs are, in fact, state-approved and your advisers and other faculty will be there to help make sure you are prepared for your future classroom as well as the state's licensure requirements. These programs will culminate in a bachelor’s or master’s degree. As you work through the degree, you might take courses that include, but are not limited to:

  • Human Development
  • Exceptional Children
  • Early Childhood Education
  • Classroom Management

Step 2. Pass Your Exams

Around the time of your graduation, you should schedule to take the PRAXIS II subject test. This is a requirement for all teachers who must demonstrate competence in their subject areas before taking command of a classroom. Thus, biology teachers take the corresponding biology test, etc. For Early Childhood Education, you must take Education of Young Children (test code 5024). This test covers the following areas:

  • Childhood Development and Learning – 17%
  • Observation, Documentation, and Assessment – 13%
  • Developmentally Appropriate Practices – 13%
  • Professionalism, Family, and Community – 13%
  • Content Pedagogy and Knowledge – 24%
  • Knowledge of Teaching – 20%

If you wish to expand your scope and become certified for Elementary School, you can take, Elementary Education: Multiple Subjects (test code 5001). This test covers the primary areas of academic life and is broken down into those four subtests:

  • Reading and Language Arts Subtest (5002)
  • Mathematics Subtest (003)
  • Social Studies Subtest (5004)
  • Science Subtest (5005)

You can sign up to take all four at once (5001) or, if you'd rather take them individually, you can sign up under their corresponding codes. To qualify for a teaching credential, you must pass all parts.

Step 3. Standards and Qualifications

The final portion of the process involves a background check and fingerprinting. Both the FBI and South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) need to provide a report. If you have any infractions on your record, you will want to include a letter that details how you have handled the matter, including any court documents or receipts of fines paid, time served, or probation completion.

You will also need to have any and all official transcripts sent to the South Carolina Board in sealed envelopes or directly from the school. Your education department will also need to submit a letter that recommends you for the license.

Popular Career Choices

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

Additional Specialization Certifications

  • Special Education (SPED) :

    This is a very special certification that will open a new world. Your classroom will be full of students who might come to you with profound cognitive problems, emotional disturbances, or some form of sensory deprivation. To attain this certificate, you will need to pass the PRAXIS II exam associated with your particular specialty area. Some specialty areas include:

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    • Education of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students
    • SPED: Preschool/Early Childhood
    • Emotional Disabilities
    • Mental Disabilities
    • Severe Disabilities
  • Teaching Reading:
    By taking the PRAXIS II test, Teaching Reading, you can qualify to work as a Literacy Coach, Literacy Specialist, or Literacy Teacher. To attain this certificate, you will need to pass certain courses and receive state approval for the specialty.
  • Art:
    Art opens up cognitive pathways that other subjects cannot. In fact, some students are so visually oriented that they primarily work with information when it has a pictorial representation. This certificate will enable you to teach your students to work with visual 2-D and 3-D art.
  • Music:
    As a music teacher, you might find that you are called to also work as a band leader, or to provide lessons on specific instruments. If you work in a high school, you might be popular as a guitar teacher, for instance.

Top Early Childhood Teacher Preparation Programs in South Carolina

  • Initial Certificate:When you land your first teaching job in South Carolina, your first three years will proceed under an initial certification. This indicates that you have completed your bachelor's degree, passed the PRAXIS II, and satisfied all other requirements for licensure.
  • Professional Certificate:To advance from an Initial Certificate to Professional status, you must take another PRAXIS II exam: Principles of Learning and Teaching. You must also complete the ADEPT/TAP ADEPT evaluation process. Your TAP evaluative results, as well as your PLT scores will be added to your database file. When your file is complete, the system will automatically upgrade your certificate to the professional status. A Professional Certificate lasts six years.

The South Carolina Department of Education has a strenuous set of criteria for the colleges and universities it approves for teacher-preparation. That means that when you graduate from a teacher-preparation program in South Carolina your degree is more likely to be acknowledged nationwide. You should also be eligible to move on and study for additional degrees from other likewise accredited/approved institutions. Here is a brief list of teacher-preparation programs in South Carolina:

  • Anderson University
    Degrees Offered:
    • Elementary Education and Teaching; Bachelor's
    • Special Education and Teaching; Bachelor's

    Accreditation By:

    • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
    • South Carolina Department of Education
    • NCATE
  • Benedict College
    Degrees Offered:
    • Early Childhood Education and Teaching; Bachelor's
    • Elementary Education and Teaching; Bachelor's
    • Preschool/Kindergarten Education and Teaching; Bachelor’s
    Accreditation By:
    • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
    • South Carolina Department of Education
    • NCATE
  • Clemson University
    Degrees Offered:
    • Early Childhood Education and Teaching; Bachelor's
    • Elementary Education and Teaching; Bachelor's
    • Educational Leadership and Administration; Master's & Dr.
    • School Counseling and Guidance Services; Master's & Post-grad Certificate
    • Reading Teacher Education; Master’s
    • Special Education and Teaching; Bachelor’s, Master's, & Dr.

    Accreditation By:

    • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
    • South Carolina Department of Education
    • NCATE
  • College of Charleston
    Degrees Offered:
    • School Counseling and Guidance Services; Master's & Post-grad Certificate
    • Early Childhood Education and Teaching: Bachelor's
    • Elementary Education and Teaching: Bachelor's
    • Special Education and Teaching; Bachelor’s, Master's, & Dr.

    Accreditation By:

    • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
    • South Carolina Department of Education
    • NCATE
  • Converse College
    Degrees Offered:
    • Early Childhood Education and Teaching: Bachelor's & Master's
    • Education/Teaching of Individuals with Hearing Impairments Including Deafness; Bachelor’s
    • Education/Teaching of Individuals with Mental Retardation; Bachelor’s & Master’s
    • Education/Teaching of Individuals with Specific Learning Disabilities; Bachelor’s & Master’s
    • Education/Teaching of the Gifted and Talented; Master’s
    • Educational Administration and Supervision; Master’s & Post-grad Certificate
    • Elementary Education and Teaching: Bachelor's, Master's, & Post-grad Certificate
    • Elementary Principal: Master's
    • Reading Teacher Education; Master's & Post-grad Certificate
    • Special Education and Teaching; Bachelor's & Master's

    Accreditation By:

    • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
    • South Carolina Department of Education
    • NCATE

Where You Can Work as an Early Childhood Education Teacher

  • Public Schools
    This is perhaps the most popular career path for education students in teacher-prep programs. South Carolina public schools are located in every city and town, they provide ample salaries, and you even can receive health and retirement benefits. This path also allows you to grow in your career. You can add endorsements or new certificates to your credentials so that you can teach a different grade, subject area, or even move up into administration.
  • Private Childcare
    With a degree in Early Childhood Education, you will be a highly sought au pair or nanny for private families who need help with their childcare. You might spend time playing with the kids, but the family might want you to also teach early reading, foreign language skills, or even math/science subjects.
  • Private Schools
    This career path is much like that of a public-school teacher, but you it’s possible you won't need a license. Unfortunately, private school teachers are often paid less than their licensed, public school colleagues. However, private schools offer more flexibility in terms of classroom management, curriculum, and often offer smaller class sizes. Each private school is unique, so make sure you apply to those that suit your educational philosophy.
  • Search Programs Offering Early Childhood Education Majors

  • Head Start Programs
    This federal program has been bolstering communities with preschool services since the mid 1960's. Economists have hailed low-income preschool expenditures as excellent investments that pay a return up to 10%. You may or may not need a full teaching credential to lead a Head Start classroom, but it will certainly help.
  • Community-Based Programs
    If you love working with children but don't have a license, community programs offer excellent educational benefits to the kids who participate. These programs come in all shapes and sizes, offering programs in diverse areas such as: art, music, theater, sports, and inclusive after-school programs.
  • Faith-Based Programs
    This career path is perfect if you wish to bring your faith into the classroom. Many synagogues, temples, and churches have Early Childhood Education, after-school, and even full scholastic programs for parishioners and other children.
  • Military Programs
    With a South Carolina teaching credential, you can apply to teach on a military base. This is an exciting opportunity to travel the world teaching military children. There are innumerable opportunities worldwide and you don't even need to complete military boot-camp.

Potential Careers and Salaries for Graduates

  • Preschool Teacher
    This is often an underpaid position that belies its true importance as perhaps the most valuable of all the educational professions. A great preschool teacher can have far more long-term impact on a student than her third-grade teacher.
  • Elementary School Teacher
    You'll need to demonstrate competence in the four main academic subjects to take your own Elementary classroom. Your career might entail a life in one single grade/age-group, or you might choose to switch grades from time to time. There are few professions with this sort of flexibility.
  • Professor of Education
    After a career in teaching, you might want to attain a doctoral degree and take a position at a local university. On the other hand, many professors devote themselves to the theory and research involved in improving educational standards. Regardless, you will impact students by providing them with highly-qualified young teachers.
  • School Principal
    To take command of an Elementary School, you'll need significant experience teaching, a graduate degree, and satisfactory scores on your PRAXIS II examination. Once you sit in the Principal's office, you'll be able to help guide teachers, mold curriculum, and otherwise manage one of society's finest institutions – a school.
  • Special Education Teacher
    This is a demanding, yet highly rewarding career. SPED students are not all the same, however, and you may need special credentials for individuals in your classroom. For instance, you will need special qualifications to work with blind students, and entirely different credentials for emotionally disturbed children.
  • ESL Teacher
    When families arrive in the United States, they frequently don't have adequate English-language skills to help them adapt to our English-dominant society. You can help their children acquire a new language. These kids frequently become translators for their parents, and thus very important and responsible members of their communities.
  • School Psychologist
    Children need more than academic instruction in schools. They are growing and developing and need help navigating disturbances at home, among peers, and elsewhere. Your master's degree and experience will help them navigate the world with aplomb.
Occupation Entry-Level Mid-Career Late-Career
Preschool Teacher $25,200 $31,900 $29,100
Elementary School Teacher $39,800 $41,800 $48,100
Professor of Education $50,400 $104,400 $104,400
Special Education Teacher $38,500 $41,400 $50,800
ESL Teacher $39,500 $40,500 $50,600
School Psychologist $54,200 $61,000 $73,300

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