If you enjoy working with young children, early childhood education is a field that allows you to help little learners from birth through age eight grow and develop. Although you don't necessarily need a teaching certification to work in child or day care centers, some preschools -- and most kindergarten through second grade programs -- do require licensure. Working in an early childhood position that requires certification means having at least a bachelor's degree from an accredited teaching college and taking the PRAXIS exam.
The PRAXIS series of tests is a set of standardized exams that pre-service teachers typically must take before gaining state certification or licensure. The test is administered in three segments: Core, Pre-Professional Skills Tests and Subject Assessments. The Core and Pre-Professional Skills Tests examine the test-taker's skills in math, reading and writing and are used as an ability assessment for enrolling in teaching school or gaining certification for an entry-level teaching job. The early childhood PRAXIS exam is part of the Subject Assessment tests. This measures the soon-to-be teacher's knowledge of early childhood development and care.
Understanding the Test
Simply knowing what the PRAXIS is, while helpful in planning your schooling and career, isn't enough to ace the exam. Prior to taking the test, get a grip on what is on it and what the test-makers expect of you as your first step to prepping. According to Educational Testing Service, the company that creates and administers the PRAXIS, the early childhood subject assessment measures knowledge in six content categories, including language and literacy, mathematics, social studies, science, health and physical education, and creative and performing arts. You have two hours to complete your test, which comprises 120 multiple-choice questions.
The primary source to prep for your PRAXIS early childhood education is the test-maker itself. ETS offers a few test prep options. The "Praxis Study Companion, Early Childhood: Content Knowledge" is a free online study guide that provides background on the test, help in developing a study plan, tips for success, sample questions and answers for the questions with explanations. Additional free test prep on the company website includes an online testing demonstration video, a strategies for success video and a video on what to expect on your testing day. ETS also offers an eBook study guide. You'll need to pay for this prep aid, but it will provide you with content outlines, strategies, practice questions and answers. Use one or more of these products to familiarize yourself with the test questions, how to take the exam and what to expect when you actually take the PRAXIS.
While ETS provides a bevy of prep information, you can also study for the exam using a non-test-maker product. Sites such as Test Prep Review, PraxisEarlyChildhoodEd, PRAXIS II testquestions and PraxisPrepInfo.com all provide free practice exams. These free-to-use Web-based practice exams and others like them provide sample multiple-choice questions that are similar to ones you'll find on the test. These sites also provide answers to the sample questions along with explanations. Before taking the real test, visit one or more of these sites and take the practice exam to assess your level of knowledge and determine what topics you need to study.
Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.