BLOOMINGDALE — Classes have begun at the Jefferson County Joint Vocational School’s Early Childhood Education Preschool Program, giving high school students a chance to gain experience for the working world.
Instructor Becky Kelley said her 18 juniors and seniors help 3- and 4-year-olds in the state-approved preschool to prepare them for potential careers in child care and education.
“We started on September 12 and have a full class. It operates four days a week Monday through Thursday from 8:45 a.m. to 1:45 p.m. Kelley said. “It’s a good hands-on experience for high school students because they’re training to be an educator or a teacher. This gives them the chance to have experience before having a career.
Teenagers spend their time working with toddlers on learning activities to prepare them for kindergarten and a playground is also on site for physical activity and fun. Kelley said some JVS students learn on the job outside of the institution, with one student already enjoying it and another perhaps getting a similar opportunity. Students must gain 480 hours of experience working with children – which includes their time in preschool – to earn a Child Development Associate credential needed to join the workforce, in addition to 12 points for graduation.
Additionally, they earn American Heart Association Heartsaver Certification for CPR and First Aid, Communicable Disease Recognition Training, and Child Abuse Recognition Training. The CDA is optional, but can also earn them points for Step Up to Quality ratings in private service and child care. Students also create developmentally appropriate lesson plans and follow the Ohio Department of Education’s Early Learning Developmental Standards so children have what they need before they start kindergarten. They further gain experience in conducting assessments and assessments on young people and formulate plans to meet their needs.
During this time, students participate in the Family Career and Community Leaders of America organization and have participated in state and national competitions. ECE is one of the original programs dating back to the school’s opening in 1975, and since then it has put scores of graduates into classrooms and daycares.
Kelley said classes cost $25 per month in the learning lab. For more information or to register, call (740) 264-5545, Ext. 408.