Scholarships help toddler education training
SUMMIT COVE – A child’s first five years are among the most critical for development, so local child-care advocates are making sure Summit County’s young ones get the best possible care.The Reading Early Always Learning (REAL) project is offering thousands of dollars in scholarship money to local educators seeking to hone their skills in early childhood training.”Professional development gives you more confidence,” said Amie Damonte, a home child-care provider in Summit Cove. “You learn all kinds of things you wouldn’t otherwise know, from how the brain develops to little things like the signs of teething.”When educators participate in ongoing training, the benefits extend all the way into children’s homes.
“Most parents are parents for the first time. You don’t get a manual,” Damonte said. “When both parents are working, they don’t have the time or the links into the early childhood community. So they rely on their providers to do the research, give them insights and help them solve problems. We’re far more than baby-sitters – we’re an important part of raising children.”REAL project coordinator Elizabeth Lowe said many local early childhood educators have financial barriers that can hinder their ability to seek additional training.”Everyone knows that teachers are not paid enough,” Lowe said. “But not everyone realizes how little early childhood teachers are paid.”In Summit County, the starting wage for a child-care center teacher is about $9 an hour. The average local home provider makes about $6 an hour.”In a private child-care setting, there is often no financial incentive for a teacher to further his or her education. One of the goals of the scholarship program is to help teachers who are serious about working in this field,” Lowe said.
The REAL project has already awarded more than $5,000 in scholarship money to local providers, including five Summit County Preschool teachers.”A teacher who has an academic background in early childhood education is definitely going to be more prepared to handle a classroom,” said Kristin Radloff, Summit County Preschool director. “And having a group of teachers working toward degrees and credentials has made them more of a team. They use each other as resources.”Damonte has taken her program to new levels through scholarships she’s received for additional training.”I took a college course on curriculum development, and thank goodness it was paid for through a grant. It really opened up how children learn and what they’re learning at different stages. It helped me offer the best preschool program I can,” Damonte said.Another of Lowe’s goals for the scholarship program is to reduce turnover among early childhood educators.
“Research shows that the more a teacher has invested in the field, the longer he or she will choose to work in this area. This has been an ongoing struggle for programs in the county,” Lowe said.REAL scholarship money is available to those already working in early childhood education as well as to those planning to enter a licensed program in Summit County. To apply for a scholarship, contact Lowe at Early Childhood Options at (970) 513-1170, ext. 305.Julie Sutor can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 203, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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