What online degrees for a special education teacher's aide are available?

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Answered by: Audrey, An Expert in the Distance Learning Basic Category
A special education teacher’s aide assists a teacher with helping learning disabled children or children with behavioral disorders learn class materials. Employment as a teacher’s aide usually only requires a high-school diploma and experience, but some public schools may require a degree. The most commonly awarded online degrees for a special education teacher's aide is an Associate’s in Science in Early Childhood Education.

Associate programs in early childhood education are usually a division of a school’s education department. Online programs focus on working with special-needs children. Students in these programs learn how to manage classrooms and assist teachers with planned curricula.

Early childhood education associate degree programs require 2-years of study. Students must complete general education coursework in the humanities and sciences as well as early childhood education classes. Classes specific to working in an early childhood classroom provide instruction in the emotional and physical health needs and teaching techniques for young children, including those with special needs. Most programs require a minimum of a 3-credit hour practicum at a local school or childcare facility.

Students in early childhood education associate degree programs learn how to assist a teacher with planning and teaching a curriculum for young children. Identifying, handling and managing the instruction of special needs children is commonly addressed in these programs. Additionally, most programs require that students be proficient in computer usage and complete a course on the use of technology in special education classrooms.

Online degrees for a special education teacher's aide often include an early childhood education course. Students in this course learn the challenges and difficulties faced by children with emotional or behavioral disorders. Identifying and managing these disabilities in a learning environment are discussed. The legal aspects of teaching special needs children are included. Another typical class is one focused on the development of a young child. Students in this course learn the timing and proper growth of the health, safety, nutrition, social and emotional development of children.

Instruction includes identifying and managing the development of gifted or developmentally disabled children. Facilitation of friendships, management of separation anxiety and identification of emotional problems is discussed. Finally, a learning disabilities course is usually included. This course describes the behavior and management of children with attention deficit disorder, Asperger’s syndrome, autism, aggression disorders or a traumatized child. This course may be separated into multiple classes. Students learn how to identify and teach children affected by these problems.

Graduates of an early childhood education associate’s degree program can work as a teacher’s aide in a regular or special needs classroom. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that, in 2008, teacher’s aides earned an average salary of $24,000 (‘’www.bls.gov’’). Demand for special education teaching assistants is high and expected to increase over the 2008-2018 decade. Because working in a special needs classroom is more strenuous, most schools pay slightly more to teaching assistants specializing in special education.

Some states require training and certification prior to working as a teacher’s aide in any or a special needs classroom. The American Federation of Teachers and National Education Association contain paraprofessional divisions that detail required or voluntary certifications for paraprofessionals, a grouping that includes teacher’s aides.

Students may also choose to continue their education and earn a bachelor’s degree in early childhood or special education. A bachelor’s degree requires 4-years of study, two years of which are dedicated to general education courses. Some or all courses completed in pursuit of an associate’s degree may be transferable to a 4-year institution.

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