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Practicum FAQs

What is a practicum?
Is there other course work besides spending time at the practicum site?
When do I take my practicum courses?
Do I have to take the practicums even if I’m already working in a child care center?
What will I do in the practicum courses?
Can I do my practicums in the center where I work?
Can I do two practicums at the same center?
Do I have to find my own practicum site?
Does my center qualify as a practicum site?
I work full time. How can I find time to do my practicum hours?
Will I get paid for my practicum hours?
What do I need before I begin my practicum?
How can I get credit for prior work experience?
Preparation for Practicum Checklist

What is a practicum?
A practicum course is a student teaching experience. You will be placed in a licensed child care center or school setting to learn under the guidance of a cooperating teacher. There are four practicums in the early childhood program. They must be taken in order and they are scheduled during the daytime (preferably in the mornings). That is the best time to experience and participate in a broad range of activities in centers. Students are required to achieve a grade of “C” or higher in the practicum courses to continue in or graduate from this program.

Is there other course work besides spending time at the practicum site?
Yes. Each practicum includes textbook readings, and assignments, similar to other courses. The practicum courses are offered online, which is where you will be reading and submitting assignments in and participating in online discussions.

When do I take my practicum courses?
If you are planning to complete the associate degree program in 2 years, you should take one practicum each semester. If you are planning to take longer to complete the associate degree, plan to take your practicum courses spread out during your time as a student. You can only take one practicum at a time, so do not wait to take all the practicum courses last. In the practicum setting, you will be able to directly apply what you are learning in your other early childhood courses.

Do I have to take the practicums even if I’m already working in a child care center?
If you have prior experience working in a licensed child care center, you may be able to get “credit for prior work experience” for Practicum 1. See the information below for this process.

What will I do in the practicum courses?
Each of the four practicum courses has a focus. View the practicum focuses.

Can I do my practicums in the center where I work?
You may do one of the practicums in your current work place, if the center meets the requirements for a practicum placement site, and if there is a teacher who is qualified to act as the cooperating teacher (be a good role model and mentor) for you. You may do this for only one of the 4 practicum courses. That means if you got Credit for Prior Work Experience for Practicum 1 for working at this center, you’ve already met this option.

Can I do two practicums at the same center?
Our policy is to give each student a broad range of experience by placing you in different settings and types of programs in the four practicums. So in most cases, we will try to place you in a different center or school for each practicum course.

Do I have to find my own practicum site?
No, the instructor or coordinator is responsible for placing you in a qualified site for each practicum. We will work with you to find a location that is within your geographic area, meets your preferences for type of setting, driving distance, etc. and that meets the needs of the practicum course.

Does my center qualify as a practicum site?
Perhaps. We follow the NAEYC guidelines for “field experience placements”, to place students in “a variety of settings that provide high quality learning experiences” for our students. Practicum sites will have been in operation for more than 3 years, not have a history of serious non-compliances with licensing codes, have staff with 2 or 4 year degrees in early childhood education or a related field whenever possible (or at least striving to improve staff educational levels – above the minimum requirements for lead teachers). Ideally, students will be placed in NAEYC accredited centers, Head Start, or early childhood programs within a school with highly qualified teachers that can mentor the student as well as offer excellent programs for children.

I work full time. How can I find time to do my practicum hours?
We realize the practicum requires a big commitment of time and dedication, but this is vital preparation to becoming an early childhood educator. We will share suggestions and ideas used by other students to make their practicum schedule possible. The “hands-on” experience you will gain during the practicum is an important learning experience.

Will I get paid for my practicum hours?
No. As a student in our early childhood association degree program, you are acting as a student learner in the center or school during your practicum hours. This is not a paid internship or cooperative work experience. You are a practicum student, not an employee of the center.

What do I need before I begin my practicum?
The state of Wisconsin and NWTC policies require students placed in practicum settings to have the following:

  • Be accepted into the Early Childhood Education Associate Degree program (fill out an application form for the program). Exceptions will be made based on availability of space in the course. Call 920-498-6255 or 800-422-6982 Ext 6255 for more information.
  • Caregiver Background Check . 
  • Health form and TB Test - You must have a TB test and have a doctor examine you and sign the form to confirm that you are free of communicable disease and are physically able to work with young children. (This must be completed 3 months prior to beginning your first practicum.)
  • A current CPR card (proof that you are trained to perform CPR). CPR courses are offered regularly at NWTC and may be taken elsewhere, such as Red Cross or American Heart Association. Early Childhood Education students should take a “lay rescuer” course. 
  • Program Shirt - Students are required to wear a program polo to represent NWTC when working at your practicum center. Sample shirts are available in the lab for sizing purposes. Click here: http://theelitegroup-nwtchealth.com/earlychildhoodeducation.aspx to order your shirt. (Please note that these shirts tend to run small. If you typically wear a medium, you may want to order a large.) 
 

How can I get credit for prior work experience?
A student with at least 1,000 hours of experience working in a licensed child care center or family child care home and initial certification can do the following for Practicum 1:

  1. The student requests a “Credit for Work Experience” form from Stacey Felton (920-498-6255 or 800-422-6982 Ext 6255 or stacey.felton@nwtc.edu), Student Services, or the Call Center at 800-422-NWTC. Student sends (in return envelope) or brings portfolio to the Health Sciences and Education office (HS310) at the NWTC Campus the following items:
    1. Cover page with student contact information and student ID number.
    2. Proof of employment of at least 1,000 hours in a licensed child care setting,
    3. Proof of initial certification as an assistant teacher.
    4. Copy of the license of the center or family childcare the student is working in to the early childhood department for approval.
    5. Completed information form on Credit for Work/Life Experience.
    6. Check payable to NWTC in the amount of $90.00.
  2. Once the program has received the completed form and the portfolio is present with appropriate information, the faculty approves and signs the document and credit for work experience is granted. This will show up on your transcript as Work Experience.

Practicum 1 is a 3-credit class. You will receive credit for work/life experience for the two-credit Practicum 1 course. You will also need to enroll in the one-credit Wisconsin Model Early Learning Standards (WMELS) class to equal the 3-credit course.

Preparation for Practicum Checklist

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