Aim4Excellence is an online national director credential available to early childhood administrators across the country. The credential includes nine self-paced modules that cover the essentials of early childhood program administration.
Individuals who are interested in attaining the credential must successfully complete all nine modules. Individuals who are not interested in attaining the credential but still want to enhance their professional competence, may register separately for one or more of the modules.
Undergraduate and graduate college credit options are available. Each module takes approximately 16 hours to complete and is equivalent to 1 semester hour of college credit.
MODULE 1 | Leading the Way
This module looks at leadership as a way of thinking about your role and the important work you do on behalf of children and families. You’ll learn about the importance of self-awareness and understanding your core values as you identify your unique leadership style. You’ll be introduced to a model of facilitative leadership as a way to empower staff and support shared decision making at your center. And you’ll learn how to apply the principles of effective leadership to create a compelling vision for your program, become an agent of change, walk the talk of ethical behavior, and embrace the paradoxes inherent in your role.View module outline
MODULE 2 | Recruiting, Selecting, and Orienting Staff
Successful employment practices are a critical component of administering high-quality early care and education programs. This module provides a framework for effective recruitment, selection, and orientation practices. You will experience a shift in paradigm from thinking of recruitment as a dreaded event to a continuous process of community outreach. You’ll learn about “right fit” criteria and how to use these criteria for finding the right person for the job and for your organization. You’ll learn win-win strategies to empower staff and support shared decision making at your center at the same time you increase the likelihood of finding and, even more important, keeping the right person for the job opportunities you have to offer.View module outline
MODULE 3 | Promoting Peak Performance
The heart of effective staff relations is recognizing and appreciating individual differences. This module provides a comprehensive model for supervising staff, promoting their ongoing professional development, and creating a strengths-based team. You’ll learn about the importance of tailoring your supervisory style and professional development strategies to the individualized needs of each staff member, how to use performance appraisal as the catalyst for growth and change, and how to nurture a positive work climate that that promotes peak performance.View module outline
MODULE 4 | Managing Program Operations
This module introduces you to operations management and looks at the director’s critical role in managing the day-to-day operations of the program. You’ll learn about the necessary components of effective operations management including: systems and the importance of systems thinking; stakeholder analysis and management; the strategic planning process; how systems, policies, and procedures are interconnected and how they impact your ability to manage the program effectively and efficiently; and tools for making systems work and for taking charge of program operations instead of being managed by them.View module outline
MODULE 5 | Building a Sound Business Strategy
This module examines the key issues pertinent to managing a fiscally responsible early childhood business. You’ll study the legal requirements and tax implications that relate to the operation of programs with differing ownership status. You’ll be introduced to the language of accounting and work with budgets, calculations, and financial reports to practice making informed business decisions that are aligned with your program’s values and purposes. And you’ll learn strategies for promoting and maintaining a positive public image that is specifically targeted to the existing and potential customers of a local child care market.View module outline
MODULE 6 | Planning Indoor and Outdoor Environments
This module considers the importance of the physical environment in early childhood programs. It begins with an overview of the essential elements of environments and how to design and equip indoor and outdoor environments to support children’s development and learning. You’ll then learn how to ensure that the environment welcomes all children and adults, promotes health and ensures children’s safety, and is aesthetically pleasing. Finally you’ll learn how to create support spaces for adults, including administrators, teachers, families, and other ancillary staff.View module outline
MODULE 7 | Supporting Children’s Development and Learning
Supporting children’s development and learning is at the heart of why early childhood programs exist. In this module, you’ll learn about the interactive environment, how to ensure continuity of care, and the advantages and disadvantages of different grouping and staffing patterns. You’ll then examine the many facets of developmentally appropriate practice (DAP) and the role of play in early childhood programming. Finally you’ll learn how to design and implement curriculum and the importance of observation and assessment in achieving program goals.View module outline
MODULE 8 | Creating Partnerships with Families
This module will help you work with families in ways that empower them to partner fully with your program and become skilled, effective first educators of their children. It begins with an overview of the essential components of family-centered early childhood programming. You’ll explore the director’s role in planning and implementing family involvement programs, learn specific strategies for welcoming and working with diverse families, and consider new approaches to nurture open, two-way communication. Finally, you’ll be introduced to tools for evaluating the effectiveness of your family involvement efforts.View module outline
MODULE 9 | Evaluating Program Quality
Program evaluation plays an important role in the administration of high-quality early care and education programs. This module provides a framework for understanding and implementing effective evaluation practices. You’ll learn how to select appropriate evaluation tools to achieve your program goals. You’ll learn how to implement continuous quality improvement, the leadership practice of assessing program needs, defining desired outcomes, developing an action plan, and evaluating outcomes. Rather than being threatening, you will discover how evaluation can help you celebrate program strengths, increase staff collaboration, and improve your program’s quality.View module outline