While other parents were struggling with online learning, Tanya found her passion!

“My path was quite an interesting one because it began right when Covid started, and I had to homeschool my two boys (ages 3 and 6 at the time). While most parents were struggling homeschooling their children when all schools had to shut down, I was having the time of my life. I was teaching them math, science, social studies, geography, art, writing, and reading. Every night I would prepare lesson plans and I would look forward to teaching them the following day. It was fulfilling, rewarding, and exciting!

That's when a lightbulb went on and I asked myself, "What if I actually did this for living?" I did some research online and asked a few people what type of requirements and certifications I would need to teach preschoolers. Through my research, I was blessed to find UCR University Extension through a friend's referral. I was amazed at how easy everything was, from the enrollment process to taking an actual online class, to completing it successfully--within a few months!

UCR University Extension’s customer service was excellent, and the staff was always so friendly, courteous, and quick to reply to all my questions (and I had quite a few). Once enrolled in their Teaching in Early Child Care Settings certificate program, I was learning so much that I took more and more courses every other month. I ended up with 32.5 completed units!

It took me about 18 months to complete the entire program, which was such an accomplishment for me because I am a mom, I was still teaching my own children, and working at a side job. Let me tell you, it can be quite challenging! Once I obtained my certificate, I began working for an online education platform, ACE Educator for Outschool.com, teaching preschoolers online, and guiding them throughout their yearly childhood years. It's been almost two years of working as an online preschool teacher, and I love every minute of it.

Some of the challenges I face being an online educator for preschoolers is making sure I can keep them fully engaged and paying attention and have a solid understanding of what I am teaching. Since young kids get bored easily in front of the computer, I try to keep my classes as entertaining as possible. I sing with them, I draw, play games, read interactive stories, and much more!

My teaching approach is intentional, so while I'm doing all the fun activities with them, I am focused on what the parents most need my help with. For example, just recently one of my foreign preschoolers from Germany needed extra help with pronunciation, so I quickly figured out that her favorite game was "I Spy with My Little Eye.” While playing, I would make sure to focus on letter sounds and phonics. We had fun, it made her relaxed, and the learning was easier. She improved so much!

There are many reasons why I love being an educator, but the one that stands out the most for me and makes me genuinely happy is seeing how much my students are growing academically each day. I feel like I transform as a person when I begin teaching. It's almost like a switch turns on and my inner child comes out with them.

My life has changed completely since I received my professional certificate. I am very blessed to have recently received a special recognition award from Outschool as an ACE (Agency, Community, and Expertise) Educator. My family of five, which includes three amazing boys, is thriving, and I am so rewarded and happy with my career. Thanks, UCR University Extension for making all of my dreams come true!

Thank you, Tanya, for the beautiful story that shows your commitment to education, family, children, and love! We are honored that you chose to make UCR University Extension a part of your journey.

Tanya Matyas Aragao Tanya Matyas Aragao
Preschool Teacher, ACE Educator for Outschool.com, San Francisco
B.A., Communications, Universidade Estacio de Sa, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Certificate in Graphics and Web Design, UCSD Extension
Certificate in Nutrition Education, National Academy of Sports Medicine
Graduate, UCR University Extension
Professional Certificate in Teaching in Early Child Care Settings