The Head Start program is a comprehensive effort to provide various services to low-income families and young children. To become part of this venture, you can help out in the classroom as a Head Start teacher’s aide. A certain amount of schooling, experience and general knowledge is required for educators participating in this federally funded program.
General Job Description
You must have general knowledge of the Head Start program, child care and development if you want to be a teacher’s aide. Since you are there to support and back up the lead teacher, you must be able to understand and follow oral and written instructions. You will be lifting and carrying children, so you must be able to physically lift 20 to 50 pounds. Be prepared to provide guidance, interact, stand, squat, push and pull for long hours.
As an entry-level teacher’s aide, you must at least have a high school diploma or General Educational Development certificate. In addition, an assistant teacher must have a child development associate credential or a state awarded certificate that meets or exceeds the CDA credential. To receive a CDA, a CDA assessment must be completed, and you need to provide documentation of training and experience in the field of early childhood care and education.
Since you are dealing with young children, you must be aware of various safety, environmental and educational issues. The facility you work for will have its own list of requirements that you need to complete before entering the Head Start classroom. Child first aid and CPR is required when you’re working with children. Blood-borne pathogen training may be part of your job description. Supplemental training, such as career development training or additional child development courses, may also be part of your requirements.
An associate degree will get closer to your career goal and increase your chances of getting hired for this type of position. Go for an associate degree in early childhood education or a related field. If your long-term goal is to become a lead Head Start teacher, you will need even more schooling. A bachelor’s degree in early childhood education is desirable, and a master’s degree is even better. You can hold a teacher’s aide position while you further your education. This also helps you acquire work experience, which looks good on your resume.
- National Association for the Education of Young Children: Head Start
- Montana Office of Public Instructions: Preschool Teacher Qualifications -- Head Start
- University of Michigan: Head Start
- Government Jobs: Head Start Teacher, Assistant
- U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration: Bloodborne Pathogens
- STARS Training: Successful Solutions Training in Child Development
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