Public school teachers in Chicago teaching children five years of age or younger must have a Type-4 teaching certification issued by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE). Teachers with a Type-4 certification are known as early childhood educators and must meet the same requirements as kindergarten or elementary school teachers. Through its Early Childhood Block Grant program, the ISBE is trying to give children younger than kindergarten age the foundational skills to succeed in their future school careers.

Complete an ISBE-approved program in early childhood education. The title and design of these programs can vary depending on the institution, but most programs result in a four-year bachelor of arts or science in education degree. You will need to specialize in early childhood education as you complete your degree. These programs consist of academic learning as well as in-class practicum components. A number of schools in the Chicago area offer these programs, including Chicago State University, The University of Chicago and Northwestern University. You can find a full list of ISBE-approved programs in the Resources section.

Complete your Type-4 Assessment of Professional Teaching (APT) test. This test will be incorporated as part of your university program and you must pass it before you graduate. This test also acts as your Type-4 ISBE certification test. These tests are delivered online and consist of 120 multiple choice questions and two long answer questions.

Apply to the ISBE for a Type-4 certification. Once you have graduated from your university program and passed your Type-4 APT test, you are eligible to apply for a Type 4 certificate. You can download and print the application and state approved program verification forms from the ISBE website. On the application, you must include your personal information, answer questions about your background and give information on your university degree. Mark the box for an initial early childhood certificate. You must also include your official university transcript (in a sealed envelope from your university), a letter from the school administrator where you completed your in-class practicum and a state-approved program verification form, filled out by you and your university. You must include a fee payment of $30. Mail the application package to the ISBE.

Illinois State Board of Education Educator Certification Division 100 North First Street, S-306 Springfield, IL 62777-0001