Service-learning is an integral part of the ECE curriculum and will be guided by the instructors. All students are required to work or volunteer in positions related to ECE while enrolled in the program. Several of your assignments will require that you apply what you have learned in a real-life setting with a group of young children, ages 0-6, and some assignments, especially in the Teaching & Learning pathway courses, will require that you work with children of a certain age (for example, 3-5-year-olds) for 3-5 hours each week. If you are currently a teacher, child care provider, director, or volunteer in an early learning setting (such as Head Start, preschool, family child care, or community-based organizations), you may complete your service-learning commitment and applied assignments in these settings. If you are not currently working or volunteering in a setting with young children, it is essential that you secure such a situation as soon as possible. If needed, we can provide resources and support for locating a service-learning site.

To meet programmatic requirements, you must find a site that meets the following criteria:

  • Serves children ages birth-6. If you choose to serve weekly with children birth-24 months, in several ECE courses, you will need to find several children ages 24 months-6 years to enact practices to capture on video for required applied assignments. As indicated in the bullets below, these service learning requirements relate differently to the two primary pathways in the degree (Teaching & Learning and Core).
    • Teaching & Learning Pathway: If you are considering this pathway, you will need to be able to enact practices and capture video with children ages 24 months-6 years in several required courses of the degree.
    • Core Pathway: If you are considering this pathway, you will need to be able to enact practices and capture video with children ages 24 months-6 years during the first two quarters of the degree and in several elective courses you may wish to choose throughout the degree.
  • Allows you to spend at least 3-5 hours per week directly interacting with young children. During quarters in which you will be filming regularly, it is a good idea to split this time between two days per week in order to more easily capture video by assignment due dates.
  • An individual agrees to serve as your Service-Learning Supervisor. This person simply needs to provide their contact information to the ECE program, sign a form at the beginning of the program agreeing to allow you to serve, and sign a form at the end of each quarter attesting to the fact that you completed 3-5 hours each week. This person could be a lead teacher or administrator
  • Allows you to film yourself regularly interacting with at least 3-5 children. 
  • Demonstrates high quality. To determine quality, you may check to see if the site is participating in your state’s QRIS (Quality Rating and Improvement System such as Early Achievers in Washington State) and is rated or if they are accredited by an organization such as NAEYC. You can also read any materials they share, such as mission/philosophy statements and curriculum approaches, to determine quality.
  • Examples of sites that may meet this criteria: Head Start, state/city-funded programs (e.g. ECEAP in Washington state), Pre-K programs affiliated with school districts, Kindergarten classes in elementary schools, and privately owned accredited early learning sites, including family child care settings who are participating in the state's QRIS (e.g. enrolled in Early Achievers in Washington state).

Completing Service-Learning at Your Current Place of Employment as an Owner or Director or in a Family Child Care Setting

You may fulfill this requirement at your current place of employment as an owner, director, or family childcare provider, as long as your setting meets each of the above requirements. You will need to be creative in identifying a Service-Learning Supervisor. If you are a director, you may identify an owner. If no one is directly above you, you may identify a fellow director, if you are part of a group of centers. You may identify a parent advisory board member. If you are in a family childcare setting, you may identify a child’s primary caregiver (e.g. a parent or other family member) to serve in this role. 

Tips for Approaching a New Service-Learning Site

If you are not currently working or volunteering at a site where you can complete your service-learning, you will need to immediately begin looking for a site. These tips and recommendations for locating and approaching a new service-learning site will get you started.

Student Service-Learning Responsibility

  • Find a service-learning site that meets the above criteria and identify a service-learning supervisor at the site.
  • Meet with the Service-Learning Supervisor before starting.
  • Comply with all necessary requirements of the site. For example, they may require fingerprints, background check, and/or medical records such as TB testing. You are required to comply with this request and present completed paperwork to the site before beginning to work or volunteer.
  • Gather all necessary signed service-learning forms, retain copies in your records, and submit copies to the University of Washington. You must do this before capturing any children on film. These forms will be provided to you after the first part of your new student orientation.
  • Report punctually and regularly for weekly service-learning experience (3-5 hours per week). Notify the employer promptly if unable to attend service-learning for any reason.
  • Strive to do the best possible job and adhere, at all times, to the service-learning site’s rules and regulations.
  • Submit a quarterly student time report at the end of each quarter.
  • Uphold confidentiality.


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