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How Do I Choose the Best Early Childhood Development Online Classes?

Judith Smith Sullivan
Judith Smith Sullivan

The best types of early childhood development online classes will be from accredited educational institutions, meet your scheduling needs, and fit your budget. They will also have excellent, well organized instructors who can provide you with a syllabus on request. You can find early childhood development classes through traditional universities, online universities, community colleges, and some vocational schools.

Before you begin looking for online classes, consider your schedule. Although online classes offer a great deal of flexibility, they still require a significant amount of time for studying and completing assignments. Online classes are typically offered as asynchronous or synchronous. Synchronous classes have a virtual class meeting once or twice a week and all students must be present at a predetermined time. Asynchronous classes do not have regularly scheduled meetings.

Woman doing a handstand with a computer
Woman doing a handstand with a computer

Unless you are an unmarried, full-time student, you probably have work and family responsibilities which take up much of your time. To find out how much time you can devote to your online class, write down all of your commitments throughout the week. Don't forget to include the time you spend on personal hygiene, exercising, and sleeping. What you have leftover, you can use for your studies.

The general rule is to allow two to three hours of study time per credit hour. Therefore, if you take a three hour early childhood development online class, you need to allow six to nine hours of outside time to complete assignments, readings, and discussions. Online classes may actually require more time than traditional classes since all assignments must be typed, including class participation, which is typically assessed through discussion boards and chats.

After you've worked through your scheduling needs, determine your budget. Online classes are offered through a variety of institutions, including online universities, traditional brick and mortar universities, and colleges, community colleges, and some vocational training facilities. Usually, private universities and government funded schools that are outside of your region are the most expensive.

Contact the financial aid department for information on grants, scholarships, or loans that you may be qualified for. In many cases, scholarships are awarded to students from a certain geographical region, or to children of veterans, or based on other non-merit criteria. It is worth your time to find out what financial aid opportunities are available for you.

Only take classes through accredited early childhood development training programs. In many regions, individuals who wish to pursue careers in early childhood development must be licensed by the government. Licenses may not be granted to individuals who have completed classes or a program from an unaccredited school. In the United States, the National Association for Education of Young Children (NAEYC) is one such organization.

Often, you can contact accreditation organizes for lists of early childhood development online classes and programs to find high quality training in your area. These organizations typically list on their website all the institutions they have accredited. If you cannot determine whether an educational facility has received accreditation from a nationally recognized organization for early childhood development, simply call a representative of the program and ask.

Once you find a promising program, read the course catalog and the class schedule. The course catalog lists all of the classes the educational facility offers on a regular basis. The class schedule lists the classes that are being offered in the upcoming school term. Read the descriptions of the early childhood development online classes in the course catalog to determine if they meet your needs.

If you find a class that seems interesting and meets your scheduling needs, contact the instructor. Ask about class objectives and what he or she expects from the students. If you have any special concerns, especially if you anticipate a period of time in which you will be unable to complete your work, explain the situation to your instructor and see if it is still feasible for you to take the course.

Request a syllabus from the instructor at this time. A syllabus contains a detailed schedule of the class, including dates for class meetings, assignment deadlines, and grading practices. You should be able to determine if the class is appropriate for you by reading the syllabus thoroughly. If the instructor does not have a syllabus or seems reluctant to share it, keep looking.

Much of early childhood development training takes place in a theoretical setting. Typically, individuals will spend a significant amount of time learning about methods and practices before apprenticing in a classroom. Even so, the apprenticeship, which is also called an internship or student teaching, is a critical part of your education. If a program does not arrange an apprenticeship as part of your overall program, you should keep looking.

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