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Early Childhood Educations reforms are currently being pushed at the state level, in attempts to raise education standards and help students read at grade level throughout their time in Mississippi public schools.
The lack of sound reading skills has been touted as a top reason for high dropout rates and low probabilities of success for many students leaving schools after 12 years in this state.
If these reforms go through, not only might parents be forced to send their children to Kindergarten, but these new laws may put added pressure on daycare facilities to teach children at an even earlier age.
Students at West Point High School and in the community have the opportunity to participate in the Career and Technology Centerâ€™s Early Childhood Education program, which teaches not only basic skills when it comes to caring for their own children, but it also teaches business and management techniques that will be useful if any of them decide to enter the early childhood education field.
â€śI pulled the core curriculum, and they have to make lesson plans, and they have to teach,â€ť said Tanya Camp of her second-year students who go to the Headstart each week to get real world experience teaching children. â€śThey have to teach them a letter or do a puppet show or something like that. Itâ€™s not just a coloring activity.â€ť
Camp is the instructor for Early Childhood Development at the CTC, and she also sends her first-year students to the East Side Kindergarten each week so they can observe teachers and how they teach and interact with students that age.
â€śTheyâ€™re getting a lot of good information,â€ť Camp said.
Camp says that she recently took some students to Itawamba Community College to tour the early childhood training facility there, and she says that many of her students have expressed interest in taking classes and working in education.
One has to be 18 before they can get a CDA (Childhood Development Associate). This is the certification that allows someone to work in the education of young children professionally.
Each student at the CTC program has had to get CPR certified.
All of this training is equipping local students to work in or manage a daycare facility.
â€śI think itâ€™s pretty important, especially if there are going to be mandatory requirements,â€ť Camp said. â€śThey are learning what they need to know in order to run their own daycare or to get their own child prepared.â€ť
The life skills/business experience these students are receiving are invaluable according to Camp.
â€śThey are learning how a child develops,â€ť she said. â€śItâ€™s important to know how a child develops throughout the years.â€ť
For Campâ€™s second-year students, who were creating their own pre-school classroom on Wednesday morning, this may be one step away from a very successful business in early childhood education.