As a new graduate of an early childhood education program (ECE), it may be tempting to accept the first job offer that comes your way, but before you sign on the dotted line on your new employee paperwork, there are some quality standards you’ll want to investigate first. This will ensure that you’re working in a positive and supportive environment, allowing you to fully perform your job duties to the best of your abilities, as well as grow and thrive as the professional ECE that you are destined to become.
Professional Educators and Teaching Staff
One of the most crucial components of a quality Early Childhood Education program is the professionalism of the teaching staff currently employed. All ECE should have ample fundamental knowledge when it comes to child development and be able to lead activities and lessons that foster learning at various ages.
Teachers should be adequately trained and educated in early childhood education. If they aren’t interested in learning about your formal education and training background and experience, then that’s a red flag.
It’s also important to ensure that programs are adequately staffed and follow the regulations when it comes to the proper teacher-child ratios.
Good Physical Environment
Children need a safe physical setting to explore, roam and play, including both indoor and outdoor play spaces. The learning environment should be neatly arranged and organized to promote independence and explorative play based on children’s ages. For example, a toddler area should include toys that spark creativity, such as a play kitchen or mock grocery store set up.
In addition to having age appropriate activities set up indoors, there should be some safe outdoor space where children can run, exercise, and engage with nature.
Age Appropriate Curriculum
The best type of curriculum for ECE is research-based curriculum that is developmentally and culturally relevant for children of all ages. The curriculum should provide a guide for program activities, including teacher interactions as well as utilizing the design of the indoor and outdoor spaces available.
While structure is important, curriculum should provide some amount of flexibility when it comes to an individual teacher’s unique personality and implementation style.
Curriculum should be appropriate for children of all ages in the program, not just preschoolers. Infants and toddlers also need a curriculum that allows them the opportunity to explore and discover their surroundings with proper guidance and support of their caregivers and educators.
Family Engagement Activities
A high-quality early childhood education program recognizes the importance of family involvement and has scheduled activities and events in place to bring everyone together.
This can include parent teacher conferences, some type of daily communication between staff and parents, family open house nights, game nights, or whatever else will bridge the gap between educators and parents and get them involved and working collaboratively as a team.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions during the interview process. Their willingness to answer your inquiries openly and honestly should give you an idea of how management communicates with their educators.
By doing a little bit of homework on the background and quality of the early childhood work environment you’re interested in, you will hopefully be stepping into the ECE job of your dreams.
If you’re thinking that an ECE career would be a great fit for you, contact Athena today to schedule a tour and talk to someone in our admissions department. I’m sure you have a lot of questions about what to expect in an ECE program and we’d love to talk to you about it. Let’s get you started on a rewarding new career today!