The Child Development Associate (CDA) credential is the most widely recognized credential for early childhood educators.
Teachers who have their CDA demonstrate more commitment, confidence and credibility as child care providers. These skills are reflected in their classrooms, in their interactions with children, and their communication with families.
As a director, providing CDA training for your team helps retain and attract good teachers, and parents know your center employs highly qualified, well-trained staff.
There are five types of CDA credentials:
- Center-Based Infant – Toddler
For work with children birth to 36 month
- Center-Based Preschool
For work with children ages 3 to 5 years old
- Family Child Care
For work with children ages birth to 5 years
- Home Visitor
For work conducting home visits with families of children ages birth to 5 years
- Military School-Age (MSA) or Child Development Associate® (CDA)
For work with school-age children on military bases.
Before applying, an applicant must complete the 120 hours of training in early childhood education that encompasses all eight of the CDA subject areas. With many choices available, you want an online CDA course that gives you the best training possible to prepare you for the CDA credential exam.
Finding the best online CDA course is simple when you know what to look for.
1 – Support from a real teacher
In order to get the most out of this training, and gain the skills you need from your CDA courses each week, look for a CDA course that provides one-on-one guidance and support from an experienced early childhood educator.
2 – Learning within a group setting
Being a part of a learning cohort means CDA students can connect with each other and grow together. The connection, learning and networking opportunities provided by a group cohort is unmatched in an individual program.
3 – Comprehensive and in-depth for CDA Subject Areas
A course that is comprehensive will include the right amount of training on the right material. The eight CDA subject areas, requiring 10 hours for each area within the 120 hours of study, are required for certification. Make sure your program covers all of the following subjects:
- Planning a safe and healthy learning environment
- Advancing children’s physical and intellectual development
- Supporting children’s social and emotional development
- Building productive relationships with families
- Managing an effective program operation
- Maintaining a commitment to professionalism
- Observing and recording children’s behavior
- Understanding the principles of child development and learning
4 – Experienced and inspiring teachers
Your CDA training hours must come from an organization with “expertise in early childhood education and teacher preparation.” Look for a reputable and experienced organization with teachers who are passionate and dedicated to elevating the field of early childhood.
5 – Portfolio development support
The CDA professional portfolio is a collection of materials related to your work with children and families that a CDA Professional Development (PD) Specialist will review with you upon applying for your credential. Your portfolio should be a representation of your hard work and learning throughout your CDA course. Look for a program that provides plenty of individualized support for developing your portfolio.
Many employers and organizations offer support to teachers who want to earn their CDA.
In Texas, the TXAEYC organization offers scholarships through the TEACH program. More information on Texas online CDA program scholarships can be found here.
Start your Online CDA Program Today
Green Space Learning’s CDA instructors have spent decades in childcare classrooms as teachers, directors, assistants, and trainers. They are passionate about the field of early childhood and are ready to help you advance your career in early childhood. Join our next CDA cohort, enroll online today!