Saturday, 27 December 2014

Why do early childhood education programs need professional teachers?

There was a time when early childhood education meant finger painting, coloring and building blocks with mom while watching morning teaching shows. Some kids went to "preschool" while others were left to play at home. It was not until kindergarten that the kids received some formal "how-to" when it came to learning. However, with the increased awareness of how a child’s brain functions and grows, early childhood education and professionalism is being given its due importance.

The significance of having educated and professionally qualified pre-school teachers:

There are several reasons why preschool teachers should undergo professional education before being allowed to teach young children. Here are some of the main benefits:
  1. Professional pre-school teachers help in developing problem solving abilities in kids:
  2. Early childhood programs entail engaging children in learning activities by making them participate in social plays and helping them develop physical, social, and intellectual ways to handle problems. This form of development and engagement is only possible if the teacher has the right training and qualification.
  3. Teaching children the three “R’s”:
  4. While reading, (A)rithmetic and (W)riting are the three main "r's" when children reach grammar school, there are three important "r's" that are just as significant while the students are on their way. These "r's" are readiness, resilience and relationships. Loving relationships offer security and confidence to children. Some kids overcome hurdles better than others. Teaching them to be resilient, helps them succeed in challenges that come their way as they grow older. Readiness for school involves good relationships, good health, and good learning activities. Early childhood educators who have professional training and support in all these areas give their students a boost towards school.
  5. Preschool teachers help in developing healthy parent-child relationships:
  6. Parents play an important role in the development of their child’s personality. Early childhood "professionals" are individuals who offer guidance to parents. They teach them how to stay involved in the lives of their children to make their kids responsible and emotionally secure. Several paths are available to those who want to gear their career towards the under-eight set. Apart from two- and four-year degree courses, professional development is offered by organizations such as California College of Early Education. The association is known to provide a variety of certifications and practical training under qualified mentors. The programs offered by the agency are recognized and suited for both beginners and those seeking to advance their careers as pre-school teachers.  

Friday, 21 November 2014

Early childhood education: An ever evolving career option!

A lot of people have reservations about the importance of early childhood education. A great number does not agree with the need to use tax payer funds to back mandatory pre-school programs. However, with the results of research that continuously show how children are more successful if they are positively affected during their primary grades, has changed the mindsets of several parents. They now agree that exposing their kids to pre-kindergarten education can make a world of difference.

The sudden awareness has also opened up early childhood education as a great career option for those wanting to pursue teaching. The main goal of early childhood educators is to help toddlers, below the age of five, make a smooth changeover between home and school. They hold knowledge about health, food, and nutritional needs of the kids and are required to undergo special training and certification to qualify for the job. Nutrition education plays an important role in establishing a healthy attitude in children.

Certification courses from California College of Early Childhood Education

For those looking to further their career in early childhood education, California College of Early Childhood Education offers face to face and online courses designed to provide research-based and in-depth training on important areas for early childhood professionals.

Program benefits:
  1. Enhance your skills and knowledge working with toddlers, infants, and young children.
  2. Discover interesting and interactive ways to engage young kids in active learning.
  3. Provide nutrition education.
  4. Get certified upon completing the course.
With preschools developing at a faster rate, there are ample opportunities for preschool or early childhood teachers who have undergone professional training and certification to teach young enthusiasts. California College of Early Childhood Education’s Certification in early childhood education and care is one such accreditation. The course intends to provide teachers with a strong base of principles of early nutrition and education to open up routes into teaching.

The growing need for early childhood education

Early childhood education mainly covers preschool and kindergarten. If a child’s learning styles and needs are not addressed during this time, some of these kids under perform throughout middle school and high school and the results follow into college life.

Unfortunately, pre-kindergarten education is still a misunderstood subject by some who think it only involves fun activities, and no serious learning. Although educators try to make learning fun for children, entertainment is not the only anticipated result. The beginning of math, reading, science and social studies starts at this tender stage. Early childhood is where the base for all future learning is laid. Painting, coloring, and singing are utilized as tools to influence learning.

Becoming an early childhood educator requires a lot of skill and patience. In fact, almost all elite schools demand these qualities from their teachers. For that matter, it is important to enroll in a renowned college such as California College of Early Childhood Education to ensure you get the right training and understating of child psychology and behavior.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Getting a Certificate in Early Childhood Education

If you are one of those people who loves being with young children, have an affinity for working with them and are able to empathize with them, a career in early childhood education may be the vocation you were born for. It is one of the most rewarding professions in the world – where else can you influence the future generations and thereby help to shape the future of mankind?

Preschool teaching is now a very specialized field and if you want to enter the profession and grow in it, you need to have the right qualifications. Getting qualified can be tough – not so much in terms of the course content and the amount of study required but also because many of those who are already working find it difficult to find the time to study. A long work day and a difficult commute are not the ideal platforms for getting a certification that could change your life. However, there are ways around this. One is to enroll at an institute like California College of Early Childhood Education. Besides being a leader in the field of early childhood education and preschool teacher training courses, the college offers a flexible learning schedule that will allow those who have time constraints to study and learn at their convenience and obtain the certification that will launch them on their new careers.

The California College of Early Childhood Education Advantage

The College offers both traditional “Face to Face” classroom learning as well as online virtual classrooms. While the flexibility of online learning is well known, the college has devised a “Face to Face Schedule” study program that is also flexible and designed to enable those working full time to study for a new career without disrupting their busy schedules or compromising on the quality of the education they receive. Among the benefits available to students are:
  • Enrollment is available at any time during the year so you can start when you want to.
  • Transfer units can be applied towards the college certification.
  • Once the requirements are met, a certificate in early childhood education is awarded.
  • The college is associated with Temp Child Care Staffing in the San Francisco Bay Area to assist students in finding employment.
  • The course meets the State of California, Department of Social Services, Community Care Licensing Division requirements under Title 22 regulations for preschool/day care center teachers and directors.
  • The director and guiding force behind the college has over 30 years of experience, multiple advanced qualifications and is dedicated to the cause of promoting and improving the standards of early childhood education.
Take Control of Your Future in 2015

To get certification from California College of Early Childhood Education all that is needed is to keep your Saturdays free. Classes are held from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM and within a year you will be able to complete the courses and become eligible for certification. The college brochure provides detailed information on the course content, duration and the class schedules for 2015. No single document will be able to cover all the bases, so if you have any questions about any aspects of the courses, the teaching methods or anything else, contact the college and they will be happy to answer all your questions.

The courses offered by the college are not only meant for aspiring teachers but also for those who are already teaching and want to enhance their skill sets in order to advance their careers.

Classes are held in the college campus located in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Teaching and caring for young children is not for everyone. If you are among those interested, check out the college website and get all the information you need to make an informed decision about your future.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Get a Preschool Teacher Certification Online

If you want to get into the immensely rewarding field of early childhood education but do not have the time to attend classes or if commuting distances make attending them impossible, online learning offers you a way ahead. There is a great deal of flexibility in the study timings and no long commutes to eat up your time. However, there are two major issues about online learning that need to be considered. The first is the nature of the organization offering the courses and the second is how good / useful / effective they are.

California College of Early Childhood Education is a leader in its field and the reputation it has earned for itself guarantees that the courses offered are among the best available. As for the online classes themselves, the facilities available to the student are superb. The college meets the State of California, Department of Social Services, Community Care Licensing Division requirements under Title 22 regulations for preschool / day care center teachers and directors.

High Tech Virtual Online Classes

The curriculum and system of pedagogy are designed to provide teaching of the highest quality.
  • Online classes are scheduled on Saturdays from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM.
  • Teaching is done in a real time virtual interactive environment.
  • The instructor is present in the virtual classroom to not just teach but also to provide students with any help or guidance they may need.
  • The virtual interactive study halls are open 24/7 so that students can work at their own times.
  • One on one personal interactions with the instructors can be scheduled using the virtual classroom portal or on the phone.
No special equipment is required to be part of the online learning experience. All that students require are:
  • High speed internet access
  • A web cam
  • A headset with a microphone
  • Basic computer skills
If you have these, you are good to go and there is nothing to stop you from enrolling in the online course. Enrollment is open year round so you can get started when it’s convenient to you. If you would like to see the course descriptions and the online class schedule, download the college brochure.

Why Online Learning?

Although online learning has become widespread, many people still question whether it is as good as face to face teaching. A look at just a few of the benefits that online learning offers will show you how effective it is.
  • The quality of education provided online is second to none. A study conducted by the U.S. Department of Education shows that higher education students who are enrolled in online courses perform on par with those who enroll in traditional on campus courses.
  • Students have a great deal of flexibility in planning their work schedules. This enables them to study at the times that suit them which in turn leads to greater understanding and internalization of the subject matter.
  • Studying on their own, albeit with the complete support of the educational institution, makes students more independent. This in turn, gives them an edge when they venture out and begin their professional careers.
  • Computer literacy is now essential in almost every profession, including early childhood education.  Online learning provides students with real world experience and proficiency in using the internet, typing and the use of a variety of software programs and communications protocols.
  • The time and money saved on commuting can be used to support the study process.
There are many more benefits from online learning. These will vary from individual to individual. If a career in early childhood education is for you, go to the California College of Early Childhood Education website and find out more about the college, online classes and if you prefer, face to face classes.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Using Interactive Media in Preschool

For the 50 plus generation, computers and the internet are things they must learn. For those between 20 and 50, these are things they have grown up with, so using them comes easily. For the preschoolers of today, computers and the internet are integral parts of the world they are born into and using them comes as naturally as watching TV and eating cookies. With this in mind, using interactive media in preschool is more than just a good idea. For many preschool teachers and administrators, it is essential.

The old saying that “The medium is the message” holds very true here. Everyone accepts that the more comfortable a student is with the method of, and tools used for instruction, the easier is the learning process and the greater is the internalization. Why not use interactive media for instruction when preschoolers find it as natural as turning a light switch?

Evaluating Media

Obviously, the media used must be designed for this age group. That means not just that the content must be age appropriate but, the manner of presentation must be that which is easily accepted and understood by preschoolers. Evaluating the media used for teaching is an important part of a preschooler teacher’s job. Here are a few parameters that are commonly used when selecting media for preschool use.
  • Content: What is the basic aim of the media? Is it designed for the target age group? Does it have the repetition that preschool learning requires? Is the repetition over done to the extent of being boring? Are new ideas and concepts properly introduced and highlighted to provide the needed emphasis?
  • Context: Who is interacting with the children? Is it being done in a manner that the children will easily accept? Are the children going to learn things from the media experience that can be applied in other activities? Are the children talking about the experience and what they have learned from it?
  • Child: Is the level of stimulation being offered appropriate? Or is it too little and boring or too much and leading to over excitement? Is the experience triggering interest and curiosity in the children’s minds?
These are just a few broad parameters. It is important that each school and each teacher use their own evaluation systems based on their understanding of the children they are teaching and their learning needs.

Using Media

Interactive media is a powerful tool; but, it is not a magic bullet. It cannot replace the value of human teacher – student interaction. The information that interactive media presents to children is something that they will accept gladly. But, guiding the interpretation of the information they have been given with and helping them in internalizing what they have learned is something that requires the teacher.

The teacher’s role begins once the interactive experience is over. As far as possible, the teacher should not be an interface between the children and the ongoing media experience. As already said, this is something that comes naturally to the children and any interaction by the teacher during the experience will be a distraction. The teacher steps into the picture once the interaction is over to discuss about the experience, clarify any doubts and spur the innate curiosity that the children have so as to encourage further interactive media ‘adventures.’ That is what the interactive media experience should be – an adventure that is engaging and fun.

Friday, 18 July 2014

What Makes for a Good Day Care Facility

The numbers of children in childcare are increasing every day. The main reason for this is that as the economy continues to revive, both parents are now working. In some cases, children are placed in childcare because the parents feel that it will provide a better development environment than being exclusively at home. Whatever the reason is, parents are very particular about the type of childcare facility that they put their children into – nothing is more precious to them and they will take no avoidable chances with the child’s safety and development. The types of questions that parents ask can be anything from “Will my child be happy here” to “What system of pedagogy and psychological development and evaluation do you use?” There are a few general assumptions and concerns about childcare that those involved in the field must be aware of so as to address the common parental concerns.

Children Cared for at Home Develop Faster – A Myth

There is a common perception that the dedicated care of a mother at home is the best environment for a child. However, study conducted by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) found firstly that there is no difference in the development of children who are exclusively cared for by their mothers and those who are in the care of other. Secondly, the study found that parental and family characteristics have a stronger effect on child development than the type of childcare provided. In other words, parents who are concerned about how “right” it is to leave a child in childcare can be told that there is no difference between home and professional child care in terms of the child’s development. Additionally, the influence of the family is what molds the child, irrespective of whether care is given and home or outside.

Childcare Offers a Better Cognitive and Social Development Environment

This is another widely held belief that parents often want reassurance about. What they are asking is if taking the child out of the home helps him or her to learn faster and develop social skills rapidly. The answer to this is both yes and no. According to the NICHD study, when compared to children in home care, those in childcare:
  • Are a little better in language and cognitive development
  • Are better at letter and numbers
  • Have fewer behavioral problems up to the age of 3
  • Have more problems, like aggression and disobedience from the age of 4 ½ onwards
It is the responsibility of the childcare professional to inform parents that while childcare offers significant benefits for the child, the active involvement of the parents in behavioral and other issues is very important.

What Makes one Childcare Facility Better than Another?

Most childcare settings provide a warm, supportive and safe environment for the children who go there. This does not translate into promoting and stimulating development. For this to happen, the NICHD study has listed various imperatives. These require that caregivers and / or teachers to:
  • Always display a positive attitude
  • Respond to the vocalizations of the children in their care
  • Maintain positive physical contact with the children
  • Encourage children to do more
  • Ask and interact with the children
  • Read books and sing songs with them
  • Encourage positive behavior
  • Discourage negative behavior and interactions
When dealing with unsure or nervous parents, it is not enough for the childcare professional to offer assurances and platitudes. Parents want the best for their children and they will be reassured by facts and reputable studies and research. Being aware of the current research on the subject and staying abreast of news from the NICHD and other such organizations will prove that the organization and the people in it are dedicated professionals with detailed knowledge of what they need to do and why.

Friday, 27 June 2014

Five Toddler Teaching Tips

The speed at which toddlers learn can be amazing.  Speech, language and cognition are all increasing, almost overnight. The baby babble of last week could be real words today. The problem with the rapid pace of toddler development is that adults often tend to think it is a continuous linear process. It is not. The pace at which understanding and internalization occurs, varies from day-to- day and from subject to subject. Adults do not consciously put pressure on the toddler to learn quickly. But young kids are very sensitive and often they instinctively know when adults are disappointed in them. A toddler’s emotional development may be at a nascent stage, but he or she can sense when an adult is disappointed. This can have a negative impact on the developmental process.

Here are five things that parents and teachers can do to support a toddler’s development.
  1. Slow down. An adult’s need to achieve targets, adhere to schedules and meet deadlines is beyond a toddler’s understanding. When talking to toddlers, the pace at which communication is done is as important as the words that are used. A toddler will appreciate the meaning of the words, but not their import. And this can lead to confusion in the developing mind. When talking to children, either individually or in a group, ensure that you are communicating not at the speed you want, but at the pace that they are happy with.
  2. Do not talk down. This does not mean do not be rude to a toddler. Talking down is used here in a literal sense. For a toddler, an adult is a huge person with immense power to do what they want, even if what is being done is not understood. This is why adult movement and actions are often blindly imitated.  This is natural and harmless. But interaction with a toddler is not something that the child should think of as another unfathomable adult activity. Do not talk at a child. Talk to him or her. This includes literally going down to their level. It is not possible for an adult to communicate with a child only when kneeling down or lying on the floor. But going down to the child’s level as much as possible means something like making eye contact; it is easier and increases the focus on the message that is conveyed.
  3. We live in a world of instant responses. Whether online, at work or with friends we demand immediate answers. This does not work with toddlers who have their own pace. When asking a question or telling the child to do something, be patient. Give enough time for the child to understand what is being asked; and to demand clarification by asking things like ‘Why’, ‘When’, ‘How’ etc. This is how obedience becomes understanding.
  4. Do not evaluate a child’s development based on the number of new words learned. Children learn new things at their own pace and no two toddlers are the same. What is more important is to appreciate how well they can use the words they do know and how coordinated they are in the movements they can do. Do not push a toddler to do or learn more than he or she is comfortable with. Often a slow learning speed turns into a strong foundation for rapid learning later on.
  5. Upgrade toys regularly. Infants love brightly colored plastic toys that light up and make sounds. But these toys do everything on their own instead of requiring inputs from the child. This is fine for an infant but a toddler needs to have toys that stimulate the mind and require some kind of inputs from the child. The change should be gradual but in time the toys that require inputs will become the favorites as the challenge of playing with them increases the enjoyment.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Must Have Qualities of a Good Preschool Teacher

While no two teachers are the same, two qualities they all need to have in common are love for children and passion for teaching. But these in themselves are not enough to make a person a good teacher. If you are planning for a career in early childhood education, here are a few of the qualities you will need to be successful in your future profession.
  • Patience is not a virtue, it is a necessity. You will be asked the same questions over and over again; and you might face the same problems time after time. There is a great deal of repetition in caring for young children and without the patience to cope up with it, you and your students will have a hard time.
  • A preschool teacher has to cover a range of subjects. You should have a solid understanding of the subjects you will be dealing with. Remember that young children can often ask the most difficult and awkward questions and you need to have answers for them.
  • Teaching is a rapidly changing profession in terms of both teaching methods and course materials. You will need to have the commitment to staying abreast with all the latest developments in your field to have a successful career.
  • You must have the kind of personality that enables you to relate to the children you are teaching. You must be able to communicate and talk to them, not at them. Every aspect of teaching is based on the ability to communicate in a variety of mediums.
  • No amount of training will prepare you for all the problems you will face on the job. You will need the ability to think on your feet and stay cool in a crisis in order to reassure the children that you are in control.
  • Young children have short attention spans and get bored easily. You will need to be innovative in the way you communicate and teach to retain their attention.
  • As you progress in your career you will have a large number of students to deal with, many subjects to cover and a wide array of administrative work to handle. This means that you will need to be organized and methodical in the way you approach your work, failing which things may descend into chaos.
  • Try to approach your work and problems as matured as you can. It is this that will earn you the respect of your students and coworkers as well.
  • You must be a good listener. One of the best ways to develop rapport with children is to let them know that you are a person who is ready to listen to what they have to say.
  • You need to be a leader. Without this quality you cannot expect your students to follow you and obey your instructions. Being a teacher gives you authority. But only being a leader earns you the respect that makes for a really good teacher.
Very few people are born with all the qualities needed to be a good teacher. Most of them either had a mentor who guided their development or learned on the job by trial and error. Experience is the best teacher, but knowing the qualities you need to succeed will enable you to learn the most from the experiences you will have as you begin your career. 

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

An Early Childhood Education Career

If you are among those who loves young children and whose idea of happiness is a career working with them, then you have probably considered a career in early childhood education. Many make the mistake of presuming that this means only being a preschool teacher, which is completely wrong. There are many roles to be played in early childhood education and success lies in finding the role that is best suited for you. Here are the basic outlines of a few to the career options available. If one interests you, take the time do find out more – there are plenty of resources available online.
  • A Certified Preschool Teacher:  This is a vocation that allows you to teach young children in a traditional school environment. The qualifications for this job vary from state to state but in general you will need a Bachelor’s degree and then complete a preschool teachers training program to obtain the required certification or license. This kind of job will suit a person who wants hands-on involvement in educating young children. The national annual salary for a preschool teacher is in the range of $29,000.
  • A Teacher’s Assistant: If you want to be a preschool teacher but do not have a Bachelor’s degree or have not yet obtained one, you can make a beginning by becoming a teacher’s assistant. Typically all that is required for this job is 12 college credits. You have the option of either remaining an assistant or continuing your education and obtaining your teacher’s certification to enable you to be a full-fledged preschool teacher. While salaries vary a lot depending on the part of the country, the national average salary for a teacher’s assistant is about $24,000 a year.
  • Program Director: From being a certified teacher, the next stage of career progression is to become a program director or administrator. This job requires teaching experience and often an advanced degree, which can be obtained while teaching.  Program directors/administrators can work in a variety of settings including private schools, public schools, special child care programs and facilities and home based programs.This job will take you away from direct interaction with children, but will allow you to play a larger role in their overall education. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that the national average annual salary of this type of position is approximately $61,000.
  • Professor of Early Childhood Education:  Many people, after spending some years teaching young children or administering programs, prefer to use knowledge and experience they have acquired to train others for the profession. This usually requires an advanced degree like an Ed.D. or Ph.D. While there is rarely any interaction with the young children themselves, this is a line of work that has its own rewards in terms of helping others to get into the important and satisfying profession. The salary for this kind of position can vary greatly, but the national average is about $64,000 per year.
A career in early childhood education is one that has a lot of potential for progress and achievement. It all depends on what your priorities are and at which level you feel the most comfortable. Whatever you may decide, any involvement with early childhood education can be rewarding and fulfilling experience for those who have an affinity for working with children.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

New Trends in Early Childhood Education

The changes in society and families are now happening at a faster rate than ever before. No part of our lives remains unaffected because of this and early childhood education is no exception too. Being aware of the trends in this field will allow those involved in it to stay that one important step ahead of their contemporaries. Here are a few of the fastest growing trends in early childhood education today.
  • Parents are now looking for full-day, full-year preschool options for their kids. Among the major factors influencing the growth in demand for this service is that parents, especially working parents, need a year round fixed routine for their kids. They do not have the time or resources to find other care and arrangement options for part of the day or for when the preschool is on vacation. In addition to this, many parents also fee  that full-day, full-year preschool will enhance their children educational foundation and give them a head start when they begin formal schooling. All parents want their children to do well academically, and this is one way that they feel is effective and which suits their lifestyles.
  • The use of technology is rapidly increasing. Many early childhood education programs are technology driven to help children improve their literary and cognitive skills
  • The use of testing to evaluate performance and achievement is being hotly debated. On one side it is felt that only by this kind of evaluation can a child’s specific education needs be assessed. On the other hand, many feel that this kind of testing puts unfair and unwanted stress on the children and the results of this kind of stressful testing are not accurate. In the future, the matter will be decided one way or the other and either testing as we know it today will stop or it will become even more formal an all pervasive.
  • The need for increased readiness for formal school learning is becoming an important issue. The trends of providing families with education on how to help the children academically and on children’s cognitive development are growing. Parents will become more involved in the education of their children. This does not mean that they will become part of the preschool routine but that they will be provided with the tools needs to play a more effective role in supporting the efforts of teachers.
  • Preschool learning has traditionally been based on the pillars of cognitive, physical, social and emotional development. There is now a feeling that the pillar of spiritual development must be added to improve the quality of moral education and character development.
  • Collaborative services are growing in importance. This means that schools are now working with professionals from other agencies and disciplines to avoid negating each other’s efforts or duplication of work. For example, schools are now working with social workers to help families and children meet their counseling, nutrition, clothing and other support needs.
  • Modern research on cognitive development and abilities reveals that literacy plays a hugely important role in improving both school and life success.  More and more programs are now being developed with the specific aim of helping young children improve their reading skills.
There are many more trends that are gaining ground and predicting what will happen in the future is almost impossible. Perhaps that is what makes early childhood education such a challenging and simultaneously rewarding profession.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

A Substitute Teacher Starter Pack

Teaching, especially if you are a preschool teacher, is not a job. Being a preschool teacher means that every day you are making an impact on and changing the lives of the children that you teach. Nothing can be more rewarding, but it is also a huge responsibility. What happens when the unforeseen occurs and you have to take time off?  Surely a substitute teacher will be brought in, but will he or she be able to provide the continuity in the learning process that is so important when dealing with young minds? Or will the whole system be disrupted, leaving the kids at a loss and you with a mess to clean up when you return? It’s not the substitute’s fault – if no guidance is given, he or she will have to use his or her instincts and hope for the best.

Guiding the Substitute

So how do you do this, if you are not at school and cannot meet the substitute? The answer is to prepare a Substitute Teacher Starter Pack. This should be available with the school administration and given to the person who is filling in for you.

Creating a Starter Pack

So what is a starter pack and how do you make one? The pack could be just a folder where all the documents that you need to explain what you want are kept. Or you could go high tech and create a CD. It’s up to you. The pack should contain:
  • A list of all the documents that are in the pack
  • A class list with as much information as you can give / as is relevant about the children in the class. Even a few sentences is often enough to provide the substitute with the base for dealing with a child.
  • A list of contacts – parents, emergency numbers, other teachers who can give guidance / advice, and so on. The school administration will probably give this anyway, but your doing it is a gesture that will boost the substitute’s confidence.
  • Details of the kind of discipline you maintain in the class and the methods you use. Provide information on the type of behavior you expect. This is critical because if the kids find that in your absences they can get away with more than normal, pulling them back inline on your return will be tough.
  • Details of class rules
  • A dismissal list
  • Either details of emergency procedures or information on where these can be found.
  • Anything else you can think of to make life easier for the kids and the substitute.
This kind of pack will keep the effects of your absence to a minimum. But do not expect to find on your return that it is as if you had not been away. The substitute is not you and even with the best of intensions, things will be different in your absence. And would you be happy if your children did not miss you?

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

What Early Childhood Education can Teach you

Studying early childhood education is not just a requirement for getting a teaching job. It is an education in itself and provides valuable life skills that will impact every aspect of lives. Teaching is not just the imparting of knowledge by teachers to students. It is a vocation that demands a range of special skills that enable the teacher to not just teach, but to educate.

Understanding the Learning Process

Obtaining an early childhood education degree or diploma means that the student has to learn about the special tools that are used to help a child to begin the learning process and to lay down an education plan for the purpose of future learning.

In other words, the student must understand the learning process from beginning to end. This is a skill that will help in every aspect of life where information or knowledge needs to be communicated.

Relationship Building

Obviously studying early childhood education includes learning how to communicate and build relationship with children.  What is often overlooked is the fact that an early childhood educator holds a very important position in the community. Parents look upon the preschool teacher as a vital component in their children’s’ lives and futures.

Learning and Using Hands-on Techniques

Teaching preschoolers cannot be done purely on the basis of books or verbal instruction. They learn how to use hands-on tools and techniques to enhance the learning process. This involves the use of sand, water, toys, and blocks as tools to teach to attract children’s undivided attention.

Being an advocate

An important part of studying early childhood education is learning to be an advocate for additional resources and new initiatives. In every life there are issues to be supported. The ability to advocate for children easily translates into the ability to advocate for adult issues.

The reason or studying early childhood education is of course, the desire to be a successful teacher of young children. But what is learned are things that go far beyond the preschool and which provide for the honing of many skills that are required to be able to perform as a contributing member of society.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Health Tips for Preschool Teachers

Anyone who has spent time in a room with a bunch of young children will know what it’s like to regularly come down with colds, coughs, runny noses and the like. The thing is that young kids are prone to catching all kinds of infections because their immune systems are still to develop. As an adult you have a greater resistance, but when in a room with kids who may be coming down with something, it’s easy for you to fall sick too. Being a preschool teacher is a great job, but it requires a great deal of energy to keep up with the kids as well as patience in dealing with them. Neither of these is easy and when you are not feeling well, it can be almost impossible.

The experienced preschool teacher knows that taking a little extra trouble every day to keep illness away is something that is well worth the effort. Not only does it make the day more enjoyable and keep you feeling good, it makes you a better teacher. A teacher who is healthy and happy gives off a positive aura that fosters a stronger connection with the children in her care. Here are a few tips on what you can do to stay healthy.
  • Make sure you get your Flu shot every year. Without this you are liable to come down with it each time one of your students contracts it.
  • At the end of each day – or at the beginning if that is easier for you - use Lysol or some other disinfectant to wipe down the tables, chairs, door knobs and other surfaces that the children are constantly touching.
  • Use alcohol wipes to wipe off the telephone and computer keyboard and other places were dirt and grime collect but where liquids or dampness could damage the equipment.
  • Young kids think nothing of coughing all over the place. At best they may cough into their hands. Teach them to cough into their bent elbows instead of the hands. This will reduce the chances of germs being transmitted by touch.
  • Have your own tissue box and keep it in a place where the children can’t get hold of it. Make sure you never use the same box as the kids do.
  • Always carry your own pencils, crayons, scissors etc. with you. If need be, wear an apron or other garment that has enough pocket space. This will allow you to avoid touching these things that are used by the children and could be full of germs.
  • It sound next to impossible, but try to avoid touching your face while in school. Especially do not rub your eyes or nose. It will take time to get out of the face touching habit, but when you do you will have reduced your chances of getting sick significantly.
  • As soon as you get home, wash your hands up to the elbows using a lot of soap. Do it like the doctors do – this is how they get rid of germs.
  • Change your clothes when you enter your house. This will prevent the germs in your clothing from spreading through the home.
  • Drink plenty of water. Being well hydrated helps your body to fight off disease.
Some of the ideas suggested here may seem a little extreme to you but if you try them for a while you will see that the frequent bouts of illness that you suffered from before will have reduced considerably. Remember that you are staying healthy not just for your own sake but for the children too.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Time Management for Teachers

You wouldn't be an early childhood education professional if you didn't love the work and spending time with young children. But sooner or later, every teacher starts to feel overwhelmed by the demands that are placed on him or her. If it happens early in the career, the teacher may give up and quit the profession. If it happens later on, the teacher could lose interest and early childhood education becomes just another run of the mill boring job. Either way, it’s not the way to build a career and get the most out of this rewarding vocation. It’s easy to say you should cut back and not take on more than you can comfortably handle. But we know it doesn't work that way. Too much work and not enough time is part of a teacher’s life. 
So if you can’t really reduce your work load, the other option is to manage your time better. You’ll be surprised at how much more you can do with a little organization and focus. Here are some ideas on how to manage your time better:
  • Keep a log of how much time you spend on different activities each working day – home, school, commuting, shopping, chores at home, exercising etc. Do this for a week. This will tell you how balanced your life is.
  • Like most teachers you probably don’t have enough “me” time. Try to rearrange what you can to create time for yourself. What about commuting? That’s time to yourself that you should make the most of.
  • Start using Post-its, or a planner to note down all the things you need to do. Use different colors to denote priorities. Tick off the jobs as they get done. Seeing the size of the list shrinking will give you a feeling of achievement and energize you. Be ruthless in allocating priorities. It’s easy to label everything as Important or Most Important. But that defeats the whole purpose of prioritization.
  • Accept the fact that you are not perfect and that you can’t be a perfectionist in everything. Some things can be left at being ‘good enough.’
  • Set targets that are achievable, not ideal. The target must have defined parameters in terms of quality, time and volume of work.
  • Everyone has a time of day that they feel the most energetic and empowered. Find out yours and try to do as much of the important or hard work as possible during that time.
  • Do not be afraid to reward yourself when you feel you have earned it. You have.
  • Talk to other teachers or even those in other jobs and find out how they manage their time. You never know the kind of valuable tips you can pick up.
  • Keep an eye on your health at all times. It’s easy to put off going to a doctor for a minor ailment, but when it becomes more serious and you are stuck in bed for a few days or more, all your plans go down the drain. Make sure you get enough exercise. Remember that the best of plan and intentions mean nothing if your body is going to let you down.
  • And finally, keep in mind that you cannot do everything. There are times when you will have to say ‘No.’ It’s not an easy thing to do but unless you learn the art of doing it with politeness and tact, the load on you will only increase and every aspect of your life will suffer.
If time management is able to ease the pressure on you, do not make the mistake of letting yourself be burdened by even more responsibilities. You need your “me” time and your relaxation. It’s what gives you the energy and patience you need to teach young children.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Keeping a Clean Classroom

It is obvious that a classroom must be kept clean. Not only is it necessary to create a comfortable learning environment for the children, it is essential from the health point of view. Young children have yet to develop the level of immunity that their elders have in regard to contracting disease and infection. The cleaner the classroom, the lower the chances of kids falling sick.

It is a good idea to involve the children in the cleanliness issue. Not only will this allow the teacher to explain, with practical demonstrations, the need for cleanliness and its importance; it will also help the children in keeping things like their rooms and toys clean. Once they have the ability to perform actions like cleaning up, children often like to show adults how much they can do.  Praise and positive reinforcement of these efforts must be given so that the activity does not wane as the novelty of doing it wears off.

Involving the Children

The best way to involve young kids in keeping the classroom clean is to divide them into teams. Each team will have one aspect of cleaning to do. For example, one team could be put on the job of cleaning the windows and other one cleaning the furniture. Since the amount of cleaning to be done by the furniture team will be more, it will need to be larger than the window team; or the furniture should be divided into small sections so multiple small teams can do the cleaning. The teams should be switched around / re-configured regularly so that the kids are involved with all aspects of the clean and also do not get bored with the daily repetition.

The Equipment Needed

No complex or possibly dangerous equipment is required to keep the class clean. What will be required are:
  • Trash cans. These should be small enough for the children to be able to open them and empty the trash inside, but not so small as to overflow. The cans should be segregated according to what they should contain. Typically, green cans are used for biodegradable waste and black ones for dry and non-degradable materials.  Teaching children about waste segregation at a young age will allow them to develop the self-discipline that will become an important component of their developing personalities.
  • Broomsticks and dustpans. Kids have small hands so the equipment should be small and easy to hold and use. Also, long broomsticks can be difficult for children to control and could lead to other kids getting poked or even more seriously injured. Avoid equipment made of wood – there is always a change of a child having a splinter pierce the skin. Plastic brooms and dustpans are the best option.
  • Feather dusters. These too must be small enough for the children to use comfortably and safely. If required, masks should be given to the children to prevent dust from being inhaled. Start the dusting exercise on larger unbreakable objects and teach the kids the right and wrong ways to go about the process. As they become more confident and adept in the work, they can be asked to dust smaller and more delicate things.
Avoid getting the kids involved in cleaning any classroom rugs. These are often very dirty and sticky with spilled food and drink. Vacuum cleaners are not safe for children to use. And anyway, usually washing is the only way to get them really clean, and this is not a classroom activity.

Cleaning materials can be expensive but if they are bought in bulk (say a semester’s supplies at a time) or combined with the purchases of other classes, significant discounts may be available.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Teaching Good Manners to Preschoolers

Teaching good manners to children is the responsibility of the parents. That being said, it is important to continue the concept of using good manners in preschool so that the children understand that manners are not only for the home. Parents can and should expect and demand good manners from their children, but preschool teachers should also encourage this. Not only is it good for children, it will make the classroom a happier and more effective environment for the children to learn in.

Learning to share, greeting others warmly and showing respect and consideration for others is a lesson that continues to develop and evolve throughout a person’s life. It is never too early to begin and even children who are yet to begin speaking and communicate by expressions and gestures can be taught what gestures are okay to use and what are not.

Encouraging Good Manners in the Classroom

The use of good manners in class is not something that can be achieved overnight. It takes time and patience, just like most other aspects of dealing with young children. There is a five step process that can help to make learning and using good manners simpler and more fun for the kids. Here’s how it can be done:
  • Begin with a few basic words and phrases such as “please” “excuse me” and “thank you.” Make it a rule that these words should be used not only in student to teacher communication but also in the case of student to student. It may be the cause of a lot of giggling initially, but over time the kids will accept this as a normal part of speech. As time passes, increase the number of words to be used.
  • Be both persistent and consistent in asking for and demonstrating good manners. This means keeping watch for when children slip up and correcting them. There will often be some resistance to the use of words and phrases that do not seem to come naturally and which may appear, to the young mind, to be unnecessary complications to communication. If the use of good manners is persisted with, it will become a part of their natural means of communications and expression.
  • Be an example. Seeing the practical use of good manners is a more powerful teaching process than simply telling children about it. As teachers know, children like to follow examples and to pretend to be older than they are. If good manners are considered to be a more “grown up” thing to do, it will be more readily accepted.
  • Use positive feedback to reinforce the importance of good manners. When a child is waiting quietly in line or is helping others to put toys away or other such “polite” acts, they should be told about how nicely they are behaving. Explain to them how they are making others feel good by their attitude and actions.
  • Make the use of good manners in the class fun. A “good manners week” with rewards for those who display the best manners is something the kids will enjoy. Stars and special mentions each day for those who have behaved the best will reinforce the idea of good manners and politeness. A “no manners” period every day for a week or so will allow the kids to have some fun while showing them how much nicer it is to use good manners.
Inculcating manners and behavior into young children is part of a teacher’s responsibility, but more than this, once the concept is absorbed, the way the kids behave in class will make life much easier for the teacher and everyone else.