Early Childhood Education at Apex High

Last year, Apex High School introduced a new Child Development class. Now, it introduces the course’s second level, Early Childhood Education. This is the first year that Early Childhood Education is being offered at AHS, and it comes with many new opportunities for students to learn about working with kids. 

In this class, students gain a better understanding of the importance of early childhood education. Ms. Overdiep, the course teacher, stated that in the past few weeks, current students have found that “early childhood is the most formative time in our lives, and it is one of the biggest indicators of how successful we will be in the future.”

Maya Palacios, a student enrolled in the course, explained: “This class taught me more than any class I’ve ever taken about kids, how they develop, and how that impacts the future- not just of the kid, but of society too. If you have good child care, then that can lead to less crime and other things. I’ve learned a lot about the impact childhood educators have in general, because the kids they teach will grow up into adults that are the future of our society.”

The overarching theme of the class is that early childhood education is one of the most important things that our country should be focused on, but it is often underfunded. Recently, the students have studied all the different types of childhood education programs, including how they reach different types of people. Ms. Overdiep described: “Some programs are for low-income families. Some are geared towards every child in every community, no matter their income.” A couple programs they are learning about are federally and state funded, so they have also been looking at where the funding is coming from for these programs. “They are even learning about the differences to see who falls into what category and what is best for certain individuals,” said Ms. Overdiep.

The students have also looked at how COVID-19 has affected these early childhood education programs. Ms. Overdiep stated, “Some of them have been impacted for the better because they got more funding from it.” But on the other hand, “a negative COVID-19 impact has been that- like everything else- these programs are more expensive, and teachers are being paid less. One of the biggest crises in early childhood education currently is that there’s not enough teachers for the amount of kids needing early childhood education.”

To help with the need of early childhood educators, students in the class will be going into internships starting next week. In these internships, students will go off campus during second and third period to work in early childhood education centers. The goal is to assist teachers and take some of the load off of them by having another older body in the room to help manage kids. In addition, all of the students will have to teach a lesson plan by the end of the semester. 

Quite a few Apex High students will be going to local elementary schools and working with the kindergarten classes, but this is not the only option. Ms. Overdiep chose the child education centers and allowed students to choose which age group is best for them to work with. Students have the option to work in two year old classes, three year old classes, four year old classes, pre-k classes, and kindergarten classes.

These Apex students are very excited to take the course and develop their skills. Hailey Ricard, who hopes to be a teacher, stated, “I’m excited to take this class because I love working with kids. It’s really interesting to me to see how their brains work and develop. Early Childhood is the most important time for that so you really get to see them learning and they’re skill sets developing.” Another student, who will be interning at a pre-k, explained: “I want to be a Pre-K teacher, so I’m taking this class to learn how to be a better one.”

In preparation for their upcoming internships, all the Early Childhood students got CPR and first aid certified for infants, children, and adults last week. They also got background checks and Tuberculosis tests, since they are working in early childhood care centers.

Right now, those in the Early Childhood Education class are learning about classroom skills- collaboration, creativity, communication, and critical thinking. Most recently, they were using magnet tiles to see who could build the tallest tower. Ms. Overdiep described that, “A lot of the class isn’t just learning about how to be a teacher, but learning why you do some of the things you do. Just like in Child Development, this class gives students an understanding of how the world works and why school is the way it is.

The course teacher, Ms. Overdiep, would recommend this class to anyone who wants to be a teacher or work with kids in any capacity; however, it is required that students have taken the course’s prerequisite- Child Development. After completing the Early Childhood Education class, students are also eligible to take Early Childhood Education II.

An exciting development with the course is that Early Childhood Education is now an honors credit; furthermore, students can earn college credit for the class if they successfully finish with an A. This would give them a college credit for a general education Early Childhood class. These new credit offerings act as further motivation for students to sign up.

With the new addition of the Early Childhood Education course at Apex High School, students will be going out into the community, with the potential to make a difference. It is exciting to see what the future holds for this course, as well as its students.

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