One of the main factors that show parents that the early-learning center complies with all modern standards and regulations is to get NAEYC Accreditation. That accreditation indicates that the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) confirmed that the center is well prepared and follows the guidelines to be highly qualified in early childhood education. NAEYC accreditation is not a formal destination but an important learning and self-assessment process. Although the accreditation process is transparent and structured, the center should pre-plan a schedule for how this process will be completed.
Four Steps of Accreditation
Thorough preparation of the process to apply for accreditation is critical for the center. NAEYC formulated a convenient model of 4 stages that guides educational programs on their road to receiving accreditation (“Accreditation Process for Early Learning Programs”). Firstly, the program should register on an accreditation platform and conduct a self-study to learn the requirement and standards. One part of this stage is a formal step of just starting the process by registering on the site and paying the fee for it. However, the self-study part is significant because it will impact how further stages will be implemented.
Secondly, the educational program needs to evaluate itself and fix the areas where the standards are not followed. This is an integral part of all application processes because it requires the creation of shared understanding in the team on the strengths and weaknesses of the center (“NAEYC Accreditation of Early Learning Programs Self-Study Cycle”).
After the weaknesses are fixed and documentation is prepared, the third step is to organize a meeting with an independent assessor from NAEYC, who will check the readiness of the program to get accreditation. The assessor can accept the accreditation for five years or decline the application due to detection of deficiencies, the number of which exceeds the minimum percentage. Finally, NAEYC urges to maintain fulfillment of the requirements and criteria constantly. In fact, this step is outside the application process as it reminds the obvious idea that accreditation was obtained not only for the purpose of having the accreditation itself.
Timeline of the Accreditation Process
A timeline prepared will guide the process as to how it should move and secure the center from missed deadlines. As for formal requirements, the time that educational organizations can spend on preparation is quite long. NAEYC gives 12 months for programs to move from the stage “Enroll and Self-Study” to “Apply and Self-Assess” and from “Apply and Self-Assess” to “Candidate for Site Visit” (“Accreditation Process for Early Learning Programs”). In other words, extensive limits help educational centers use their time freely. The center should not quickly change the stages because it can affect education quality improvement. The balanced timeline looks as follows:
|1st stage – Enroll and Self-Study||It will depend on the team’s capacities to examine the materials and summarize the crucial elements. Optimally, it can take 3 months.|
|2nd stage – Apply and Self-Assess||This is the most time-consuming step. The center should check and, if necessary, correct the issues. It will probably take 10 months.|
|3rd stage – Candidate for Site Visit||It depends on NAEYC assessors|
|4th stage – Maintain Accreditation||Accreditation is active for 5 years|
NAEYC accreditation is beneficial for early childhood education centers because it provides staff’s enhanced commitment to the work and parental satisfaction with the educational process. To obtain this accreditation, the program has to go a long way in self-studying and self-assessment. This process can take up to 24 months, but it is best for the center to shorten it and receive accreditation in 12-15 months.
Accreditation process for early learning programs. (n.d.). NAEYC. Web.
NAEYC accreditation of early learning programs self-study cycle. (n.d.). NAEYC. Web.