Rhode Island Looks at Early Childhood Education

Early childhood education gives young students the tools they need to succeed in kindergarten and elementary students. Teachers who earn an early childhood education degree will have a great career where they help children prepare for their education.

Nationally, Rhode Island trails most states in early childhood initiatives. It is one of only 12 states that does not offer a public pre-kindergarten program to 4-year-olds. Instead, parents must pay for private preschool, offered in family daycare settings, child-care centers or nursery schools. It's a costly proposition made even more difficult after lawmakers cut child-care subsidies to many working families in 2008.

The quality of programs and teachers varies widely, say early childhood specialists, with some children stuck in low-quality or mediocre environments. The state does not currently require pre-kindergarten teachers to have a bachelor's degree or an early childhood specialization " two credentials many educators say are essential.

A small pilot pre-K program the state Department of Education is launching in September will serve about 100 low-income children and will require teachers to possess both qualifications. The pilot marks the first time the department is developing an early childhood program. Officials say they hope to develop a high-quality model that can be replicated throughout the state.

Earning an early childhood education degree online will prepare you for a career of working with kids. Holding an associates degree is appropriate for childcare and teaching positions, where a bachelor's degree would be necessary for elementary teaching.

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