First Year Goals As An Early Childhood Educator

As an early childhood educator, there are several goals you will want to achieve as you advance your career. The first year of your career is often the most difficult but you’ll still want to make sure you can sure you can hit certain goals in order to become a more successful educator. Early childhood educators play a fundamental role in the social, academic, physical, and emotional development of children. When making your list of first year goals as an early childhood educator, consider the following suggestions.

  1. Building a relationship and building trust with your students.
    Some say that this is the most important first year goal of an early childhood educator. When you build positive relationships with students, your classroom becomes a nurturing and welcoming place for them. When children feel safe and secure, they are more open to learning.
  2. Teaching children to make friends.
    When a child attends a daycare, preschool, or pre-k, it is often the first time that they will be interacting with a lot of other children from all walks of life. As an early childhood educator, you should make it a first year goal to teach your new students how to build relationships. Building relationships revolves around sharing, resolving conflict, and expressing themselves with effective communication.
  3. Helping children develop confidence.
    The more confident children are, the more opportunities they’ll have to grow and thrive. Giving children activities that can help them build confidence and then praising them with success is a great way to do this. Confident children also tend to become more independent as they age.
  4. Developing a positive relationship with your student’s parents.
    Next to students, parents are the people that an early childhood teacher will interact with the most. Parents want their children to learn in a safe and nurturing environment. It should be a first year goal to show parents that you are not only providing their children with a wonderful learning environment but also a place that is safe from harm.
  5. Helping children learn practical skills.
    A great first year goal is to help your students learn practical skills that will help them gain independence as they grow older. Helping children learn skills such as shoe tying, buttoning their coat, putting together a puzzle, or even feeding themselves helps to build their confidence in and out of the classroom.

Atlas Training is a CDA Training program in Child Development. It offers Competency-Based Education (CBE) to participants on an interactive learning platform and is an alternative to the traditional online model of watching videos and taking a multiple choice quiz to demonstrate knowledge.

Six Teaching Stations that Every Early Childhood Learning Center Should Have

Every early learning center has a responsibility to provide a safe, fun, and educational place for children to grow. When setting up different early learning teaching stations, there are six areas that should be set up so that children can experience different subjects. Each of these areas should have learning tools on hand that children and teachers can use. Whether you have an established early learning center, are an employee of one, or are looking into opening one, these are six teaching stations that every early childhood learning center should have.

A Music Station
Set up an area where children can explore music. Music instruments are a great way to teach children how to explore different sounds and different types of music. They can also learn about beats and dancing. You should keep a media player close by so that kids can also listen to music and mimic the rhythms. Listening to the music can also help children to learn the different sounds of the instruments they’re playing with.

A General Play Area
The main purpose of a general play area is to encourage the children to use their imagination. Make sure you provide a comfortable area for the children to sit on. A large rug is usually fine. All the toys should have a storage space that children can access when they are told to put the toys away. You should label the bins with the name and picture of the toy that goes in it. Popular toys for learning areas include wooden and plastic blocks, Duplo Lego Bricks, puzzles, and toy food.

An Art and Craft Station
Art is a great way for young learners to express themselves creatively. Crafts are great way for a child to learn how to follow directions. When setting up your craft area, make sure you get the essentials such as crayons, paint, construction paper, safe scissors, glue, and markers. You should also keep some staple craft supplies such as popsicle sticks, yarn, cotton balls, feathers, and pipe cleaners. Make sure you have paper towels and smocks on hand so things don’t get too messy.

An Outdoor Play Area
Getting children outside is very important for their development. It is also helpful in keeping children and staff safer in the pandemic. Depending on your budget, your outdoor play area can be simple or elaborate. Children can easily play with typical outdoor toys such as hula hoops, trikes, balls, and jump ropes. Once you have a larger budget you can purchase swings, sandboxes, playscapes, and other larger equipment.

A Quiet Reading Area
Even though most young learners are not adept at reading quite yet, it is important for them have an area where they can look at books and be read to. This is especially important for early learning centers that allow children to nap in the afternoon. Reading to children before their nap relaxes them and gets them to focus better. You can also make the area into a library where children can “check out” books that they want their parents to read with them.

A Science Station
This part of the early learning classroom can be used to teach the basic of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). Early learners can learn basic science experiments about nature, weather, and even chemistry. Science combined with excited kids can get messy so be sure to keep cleaning products close by the area!

About Atlas Training Center

Atlas Training is a CDA Training program in Child Development. It offers Competency-Based Education (CBE) to participants on an interactive learning platform and is an alternative to the traditional online model of watching videos and taking a multiple choice quiz to demonstrate knowledge. 

Participants enrolling in Atlas Training work through one module at a time and demonstrate that they understand and can apply what they learn prior to moving on to the next module. Progress is based on demonstration of proficiency and/or mastery of the 13 functional areas of the national CDA and is measured through assessments that include discussions, assignments, reflections and multiple choice quizzes.

Though Atlas Training is a nine month program, students have flexibility within each month to complete work at their own pace. Content mastery is the focus, rather than students completing training just to earn hours to use towards the credential. 

CDA vs College

As a professor and academic advisor, I often meet with early childhood teachers to learn about their background and professional goals and tailor their learning plans accordingly. What I have learned throughout my career as an educator is that choosing your education path wisely can make all the difference.

But that path looks different for everyone, and different paths address different knowledge and career needs.

For example, while a higher education degree should be a long-term goal for most educators, it is not always the best starting point. It is my view that someone new to the field should not have to wait three semesters to learn about health and safety or child development. These are skills that matter on day 1 of employment, and all teachers should have a foundational understanding of early childhood when they work with children.

State priorities have shifted considerably over the past twenty years, with more spending devoted to college credits and degree obtainment across most states. For many teachers, this shift is hugely beneficial, enabling members of the ECE community to advance professionally without absorbing huge costs in a field that does not pay well in the first place.

While I applaud the advocates and political leaders who have worked tirelessly to provide funding for these college programs, I believe that this orientation should be tempered with caution in the name of practicality.

The reality that seems to get overlooked is that college is not necessarily the right choice for every teacher, and even if it IS the right choice, it is not always the best place to start.

Consider, for example, that it can take six or more years for a full-time teacher to earn an associates degree in early childhood. In the mean time, there may be significant attendance gaps – sometimes even years – in which a teacher does not advance. In the mean time, the teacher’s level on the state’s registry may reflect very little in the way of qualifications.

I also challenge the assumption that college is the best educational format for everyone. During my career as a director, I knew MANY teachers who performed exceptional work with children, but who repeatedly failed college courses due to challenges with writing. Should these teachers’ quality be overlooked and undermined by our existing college orientation, or can we, as a field, consider, that alternative pathways, such as the CDA, provide an acceptable level of skills validation?

Another consideration is that many teachers never complete their degrees or, as is becoming increasingly common, they leave the classroom entirely once they do obtain one.

Thankfully, I believe the field is beginning to return to a more moderate perspective on professional development. CDA credentials are now accepted for college credits, and funding for them continues to grow. As you move forward, please take time to reflect on what path is best for you. If it’s the CDA, we hope to see you in our program. Learn more by emailing us.

-Maureen Hogan PHD