Aspiring elementary school science teachers can enroll in an online bachelor's degree program in elementary education, early childhood education or a related area. Completion of the program generally results in the eligibility necessary to take state licensure examinations, which are mandatory for all elementary school science teachers working in public schools.
Although students may be able to complete all of their coursework online, teacher education programs offered through distance learning still typically require a certain amount of student teaching experience. It's important that prospective students check with their states to ensure that an online program meets their specific certification requirements.
Because most elementary school science teachers are also responsible for teaching other subjects, program curricula are not limited to science education courses. Instead, distance education programs in elementary teaching science offer a combination of subject-specific and general teaching courses. Online theoretical coursework instructs students in the following areas:
- Theories of teaching and learning
- Curriculum planning
- Developmental child psychology
- Diversity in the classroom
- Educational assessment
- Student engagement and motivation
Most programs also offer at least one course in every academic area for which an elementary school educator might be responsible for teaching. These subjects include math, science, English, social studies, geography, art and literature.
Didactic coursework is generally completed entirely online. Students access course materials via content management systems and participate in mandatory class discussions via message board postings.
Some universities and colleges offering online elementary education bachelor's degrees may admit students who have a high school diploma and meet standard admissions requirements, such as acceptable placement test scores. Some may admit students who have a high school diploma, but other distance learning programs could require applicants to have already completed general education coursework -- including some introductory courses in education -- through an associate's degree program. While bachelor's degrees typically take around four years to earn, those who already have an associate's degree could finish in about half that time.
Students who are ready to begin their student teaching work must pass a criminal background check. Some online programs require students to complete the student teaching hours through other institutions prior to admission. Others offer placement services that assist students in finding opportunities local to their geographical area. Still others require students to seek out their own student teaching positions, which must then be approved by the university or college. Those engaged in student teaching could be required to develop a sample curriculum and also prepare portfolios covering their classroom experiences.
Aspiring elementary teachers can earn their bachelor's degree entirely online, with the exception of required student teaching experience. Distance learning offers students the opportunity to study subject-specific content and general teaching courses.