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Florida: Early Childhood Education Outlook

Early childhood education is a growing career industry. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that employment opportunities in this field are expected to grow by 25 percent from 2010 to 2020. The median annual wage for preschool teachers was just under $26,000 in 2010 and entrance into this field usually only requires an associate degree.

Most early childhood kindergarten teachers, both in Florida and around the country, will need a bachelor degree. These teachers prepare students for entrance into first grade with instruction in math, reading and science. Kindergarten teachers earn a median wage of $48,800 and also enjoy a strong job market outlook.

For educators with a bachelor degree, teaching opportunities also include positions as directors and child care center managers. Administrator-Managers are responsible for the financial and operational activities at schools and child care facilities. The national median wage reported in 2010 was $42,960 for directors and the job outlook was strong with a 25 percent growth rate through the decade.

Florida: Early Childhood Education Programs

Birth to Age 3 Years

The Florida Early Head Start Program serves children from birth to age 3, as well as pregnant women, to promote better health and improve learning outcomes for children once they begin school. During the 2007-2008 school year, 3665 children under the age of three were enrolled in this vital program. Head Start aims to improve the social, emotional, physical and academic development of young students and to provide parents with support and skills training for better parenting.

Preschool for All Children 3 to 5 Years Old

For children from 3 to 5 years old, Florida early childhood education programs provide funding for the “Florida Kindergarten Readiness Screener” program. This statewide assessment tool screens children for reading readiness skills. Educators can identify both strengths and weakness in learning readiness and implement teaching strategies to enhance the educational success. The program is supported by professional development for educators and is enhanced by programs that reach out to migrant students, at-risk students from low-income families and students with special health or education needs.

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Early Childhood Special Education Programs

Florida Early Childhood Special Education programs for children ages 3 to 5 require that teachers have additional training in one or more specialty areas such as physical impairments, speech impediments, mental or cognitive deficiencies or speech-language pathology.

Florida: Kindergarten Policies

  • Kindergarten Entrance Date: September 1
  • Compulsory School Age: 6 (home schooled children are assessed for 1st grade readiness)
  • Minimum Hours/Days for Kindergarten: 4 hours per day—780 hours over 120 days
  • Admission Requirements for Kindergarten: The student must provide proof of immunization within 30 days of enrollment and may be required to have a TB test.
  • Kindergarten Teaching Certification Requirements: Kindergarten teachers must possess at least a bachelor degree and demonstrate Professional Preparation and Education Competence and Mastery of General Knowledge.
  • Early Childhood Training or Certification Requirements for Kindergarten Teachers: Special certificates and/or education are required for special education.

Early Childhood Education Program Outlook

The Florida Early Learning programs are a collaborative effort between the Office of Early Learning, the Department of Children and Families and The Department of Education. Educational efforts incorporate five key components for all lessons plans that include: physical development, approached to learning, social and emotional development, communication, language and emerging literacy and cognitive development. The Florida Department of Education appears to be well-funded and on the right path to provide a rigorous education for our children.

Additionally, in 2012, Florida was awarded a share of the 2012 Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge. This $133 million grant was established to enhance the quality of education and remove the barriers to educational access. Florida has received a total grant of almost $30 million to be dispersed over a four-year-period.

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