Early Education and Care is a growing and ever changing field that includes the care and teaching of children from birth through age 7. The Early Education and Care program is a Chapter 74 approved comprehensive competency based 3-year program in which students will experience a combination of classroom instruction and hands on experience with children from ages 6 weeks through 6 years of age. Students in our program will understand and be familiar with many aspects of child development from infancy through elementary school years. They will be well versed in health and safety topics pertaining to children and become knowledgeable about current events and developments in the early childhood field. Upon completion of the program, they will have a thorough understanding of early childhood math and science concepts, music, movement, art, creativity and understand the ways in which children learn. Students will have classroom experience where they will interact with children and facilitate learning under the guidance of experienced teachers and their classroom instructors.
Students will be prepared to apply for the Department of Early Education and Care Teacher License upon successfully completing this program. This will include a minimum of 450 supervised hours working directly with young children. The Lower Pioneer Valley Early Learning Center is an onsite childcare facility that is the first multi-age early childhood classroom in Western Massachusetts. The Early Learning Center provides education and care for children ages 6 weeks through 6 years old, offering students the opportunity to obtain both a Preschool Teacher License as well as an Infant/Toddler Teacher License. Under the supervision of the High School Instructor, Early Learning Center Director and Lead Teacher, students will become familiar with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care Regulations for licensed programs. They will learn the importance of providing quality care and education to young children of various ages. In addition to learning about child development within their high school classroom, the students will gain hands-on experience in the state of the art Early Learning Center, with professional role models to help them develop the skills necessary to be successful in the Early Education and Care field. Students will be guided through the process of planning and developing curriculum for young children, creating activities and implementing lesson plans with the children in the Early Learning Center. Students will become familiar with a variety of childcare programs. Some of these programs may include licensed family childcare homes, center-based childcare programs, and public school programs. Students will be introduced to a variety of careers in childcare through field trips to various childcare facilities.
Using industry standards students will learn the following competencies:
♦ Knowledge of health and safety standards within the field
♦ Describe, at a fundamental level, how young children learn, what is taught, and how teachers work with children and their families
♦ Apply the guidance and discipline concepts applicable to young children’s behavior
♦ Develop and implement age-appropriate curriculum for young children, fostering creativity, social-emotional development, language and literacy skills, self-help skills, and physical development
♦ Demonstrate an understanding of the partnerships with families and others that teachers must create in order to achieve the best results for the children in their classroom
♦ Use data to understand and guide development
♦ Ability to examine and assess the effects the physical environment and materials have on children in an early childhood education program
♦ Select goals, objectives, and types of observation needed in early childhood education
♦ Determine the scope and need for quality early childhood education
♦ Knowledge of the Massachusetts Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS), and its objectives
♦ Create a professional portfolio
♦ Pediatric First Aid Certification
♦ Infant and Child CPR/AED Certification
♦ Hands-on training in onsite multi-age early childhood classroom
♦ Opportunity for offsite placement
♦ Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care Infant/Toddler and Preschool Teacher licensure preparation
Looking toward the future:
The need for childcare workers is expected to grow by 20 percent from 2010 to 2020, faster than the average for all occupations. Growth is expected because of increases in the number of children who require childcare and continued demand for preschool programs. Students completing the Early Education and Care program have the option of securing gainful employment, continuing formal studies at the post-secondary level, or pursuing a combination of both. The Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care offers additional licenses in the field of early childhood.
The Early Education and Care program has an articulation agreement with Holyoke Community College. Students have the opportunity to earn college credit in the Early Childhood Introduction to Programs for Young Children (3 credits) if they meet the criteria as outlined in the agreement. The student must complete the program with a grade of B or better, demonstrate that they are eligible for HCC’s English 101 by taking the Accuplacer® College placement Test, and achieve the required score on the section – Sentence Skills and Reading Comprehension.
Early educators learn to develop and implement curriculum that addresses children’s developmental levels and needs. Through inclusive practices students will that respect the rights and abilities of each child, and create positive relationships with children and families. Employment can be found in a variety of types of licensed programs, as well as in private homes.