Competencies describe the specific knowledge and observable skills or attributes needed by the practitioners. The Core Competencies establish a set of standards for professionalization of the field.
The Core Competencies are divided into eight content areas:
- Child Growth and Development: Includes understanding how children acquire language and creative expression and develop physically, cognitively, and socially.
- Learning Environment and Curriculum: Covers establishing an environment that provides learning experiences that meet each child’s needs, capabilities, and interests.
- Child Observation and Assessment: Teaches how to observe and assess what children know and can do in order to provide curriculum that meets their developmental and learning needs.
- Families and Communities: Helps professionals work collaboratively with families and agencies/organizations to meet children’s needs and to encourage the community’s involvement with early learning.
- Health, Safety, and Nutrition: Covers how to establish and maintain an environment that ensures children’s healthy development, safety and nourishment.
- Interactions with Children: Includes establishing supportive relationships with children and guide them as individuals and as a part of a group.
- Program Planning and Development: Covers establishing, implementing, and evaluating an early learning program.
- Professional Development and Leadership: Helps professionals serve children and families in a professional manner and participate in the community as a representative of early childhood care and education.
The Core Competencies provide a framework of the knowledge and skills for each of the five levels of professional preparation:
- Level 1 includes the knowledge and skills expected of a professional new to the early education field with minimal specialized training/education.
- Level 2 includes level 1 plus the knowledge and skills learned while earning a Child Development (CDA) credential, or equivalent training/education.
- Level 3 includes the previous levels plus knowledge and skills learned while earning an associate’s degree in early childhood education or child development.
- Level 4 includes the previous levels plus knowledge and skills learned while earning a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education or child development.
- Level 5 includes the previous levels plus knowledge and skills learned while earning an advanced degree in early childhood education or child development.
The Core Competencies may be used in a variety of ways by various positions within the field:
- Early education professionals may use them to assess their level of knowledge and skills in the content areas/levels and identify future professional education needs.
- Directors and Administrators may use them to develop staff training and specify training requirements, establish salary scales or develop job descriptions.
- Training organizations may use them to plan, organize and promote educational opportunities.
- Higher Education may use them to assess, design and coordinate course and degree program content and to facilitate transfer and articulation agreements.
- Government agencies may use them to develop and implement policies that will enhance professionalism in the field.
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