One local school system says it wants to meet the growing demand for childcare and early education.
Next year, students at Harrisonburg High School will have the option to take an early childhood education course.
Harrisonburg High School senior Emily Harper wants to work with children after college.
She says this course is a great idea.
"I would've done this because I think it's important to understand how the child grows and how they develop," says Harper.
Kathy Stevens will oversee the program and says the nation and our area are currently in a day care and early childhood education "crisis."
"So the more people we have trained and knowledgeable about child development and what is normal and healthy and what are good habits to give to young children and adults, it has to be helpful anywhere," says Stevens.
She says, the earlier you educate young children, the better start they have in life.
"And when we can have our high schoolers learn about this, the developmental stages and everything, it helps them to be better parents, but it also gives them a lot of career opportunities," says Stevens.
Not only will the students be learning in class, but they'll have hands-on experience at the on-site nursery, at preschool programs in the school system and also at other day care programs around the city.
"It's easier to be in the actual setting, and so from the classroom stand point you learn and then you apply it later," says Harper.
Stevens says, from pediatricians to teachers to parents, there are lots of opportunities with kids, and this gives you a real feel for the job.
"When you work with children and you see they cry and you change their diapers and they run away from you, you have a different understanding of what it is to work with children," says Stevens.
The school already has a lot of interest in the course and Stevens says they hope to grow the class to work more hand-in-hand with the community.
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