Are you a director interested in learning more about childcare professional development? Are you seeking ways to engage your staff and help them achieve their professional goals? Keep reading!
Why is professional development important for early childhood educators?
Professional development refers to training, resources, and tools used to deliver knowledge and skills that can help educators improve the quality and effectiveness of their work. Professional development opportunities can improve staff skills, knowledge, attitudes, and career advancement. We cover ways to engage staff in and increase access to professional development in our course Staff Development and Motivation in Child Care.
We use the term staff development to mean the coordinated delivery of professional development to staff. Staff development is most effective when based on the needs of individual staff members.
Most states require that teachers receive training every year (or, in some cases, every two or more years). Professional development should be consistent with your state’s early learning, teacher competency, and licensing standards. Early learning standards are the concepts and skills children need to learn and develop between birth and kindergarten. Teacher competency standards are the knowledge, skills, and values required of teachers in early childhood programs. Licensing standards are the regulations your facility must comply with to maintain its license.
Professional development training topics
Staff professional development can cover various training topics. Examples include
- new staff orientation;
- topics such as child development, challenging behavior, special needs, nutrition, etc.;
- teachers’ skill-building opportunities (such as implementing curriculum or conducting a child assessment);
- problem-solving skills;
- communication between administration and staff;
- communication between staff members;
- developing community partnerships.
Professional development training comes in various formats: in-service training provided by a facility’s director, team meetings, peer support groups, webinars, conference workshops, adult education courses, college courses, and distance–learning courses. Make sure you choose a form of training that your licensing authority accepts.
To reach your staff development goals, offer professional development that
- covers topics relevant to each participant’s particular needs,
- is appropriate for all participants’ learning styles,
- stimulates participants’ creativity and enthusiasm,
- supports participants’ self-esteem,
- focuses on clearly defined goals,
- takes into account participants’ performance evaluations,
- is consistent with program performance standards and goals.
Professional development should be motivating and engaging. Present all learning activities as part of an ongoing effort to develop the best practices to help children reach their goals. Model this approach by communicating the benefits of continuous learning activities.
Childcare professional development funding
Some states offer funding to teachers that covers the expenses of specific professional development courses or opportunities. Reach out to your state licensor to inquire about funding opportunities or scholarships. We include contact information for licensors at the bottom of our state pages.
To learn more about approaches to coaching, strategies to improve program quality, and how to increase access to and engage staff in professional development, take our course Staff Development and Motivation in Child Care.
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