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Program to include professional development opportunities

December 6, 2007

The early childhood program is seeking approval to add to its program professional development opportunities.

There are over 160 students enrolled in early childhood courses, Gay Ward, associate professor of early childhood and literacy and coordinator of the early childhood program, said.

Some features of these opportunities include online and video conference courses, being able to expand knowledge and experience in educating early childhood, working with children from pre-kindergarten through age eight and emphasizing connecting children with nature through active exploration, according to the UW-River Falls Web site.

The early childhood program already consists of a minor program, which elementary education majors take to teach middle school or early childhood. Communicative disorders and psychology majors can also pick up the early childhood minor as a non-certificate. There is also a program for continuing education for professionals and a collaborative program with UW-Eau Claire in which UWEC students can receive dual licensure in special education and early childhood, and UWRF students can earn triple licensure, Ward said.

Dana Randall is an elementary education major, with a minor in early childhood. She is also earning special education certification through UWEC.

Expanding the early childhood program is important, Randall said in an e-mail interview.

“With inclusion becoming a big part of classrooms I think it is essential for all teachers to know more information,” she said.

The professional development courses have been approved, but the overall program approval is pending, Ward said, though some of the courses will be taught in the spring.

These courses include TED 325 Diversity in Early Childhood, TED 255 Reading Guidance for Children and TED 451 Integrating Alternative Methodologies of Early Childhood Education, according to the Web site.

Other courses that will be offered include TED 335 Kindergarten Curriculum and Materials, TED 424 Inquiry Learning:  Society and Environment Early Elementary and TED 326 Place-based Science for Early Childhood Educators.

It will take a few months for program approval, but Ward hopes the program will be able to begin in the summer.

“It’s a very unique offering,” she said. ” … that hasn’t been seen elsewhere in the region.”