Preschool Teacher Education Requirements
Every state determines what formal training, if any, is necessary at the postsecondary level in order to work as a preschool teacher. Those seeking degrees that can help them gain employment or advance might wish to pursue a certificate, associate degree or bachelor's degree in early childhood education. This field encompasses the education of preschool or pre-kindergarten students. Programs usually focus on preparing caregivers to work with children from birth through age five; however, some offer courses that cover education methods for students through roughly third grade.
Head Start Program Overview and Education Requirements
Private preschool institutions or childcare centers may have their own training curriculum and hiring requirements that are not governed by the state. For example, Head Start programs focus on the social and educational development of preschoolers and assists families nationwide. They're available through a wide variety of partner schools and organizations to provide nutrition, social interaction, education and health services for underprivileged and at-risk children. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Head Start teachers are all expected to have at least an associate degree, and at least half of these educators throughout the country are required to have bachelor's degrees.
Online Program Options
Distance-learning options in early childhood education are mainly available at the undergraduate level and are found at community colleges, four-year universities and career schools. Prospective teachers may need to complete local field experiences to earn their degrees, but online coursework can be completed in a virtual classroom housing lectures and assignments. They may also be interested in hybrid programs, which allow them to complete some classes and experiential components on campus.
In less time than it takes to earn an associate degree, students can undertake an online certificate program to acquire the education necessary to prepare infants and toddlers for formal school settings. Some prior experience in the field may be necessary. Students may be able to specifically focus on preschool environments.
Associate Degree Program
Students in an associate degree program in early childhood education learn about youth development and how best to teach different grade levels based on such. Most of these 2-year programs qualify professionals for state licensure where applicable or help to secure jobs working with infants and toddlers in a care-giving setting.
Bachelor's Degree Program
Early childhood education bachelor's degree programs teach students how to best educate young children before they begin elementary school. Lessons discuss classroom management, child development, literacy and student assessment. While on-campus courses are not required, students must complete fieldwork courses with preschool children. These programs typically last four years.