Introduction to early childhood education
Dr. Seuss wrote, “A person’s a person, no matter how small!” which can be applied to teaching practices in early childhood education. The presence of patient, caring, and educated individuals in a child’s life are imperative to their healthy development. A bachelor’s degree in early childhood education opens the doors to a colorful world.
Children’s sense of amazement and wonder flourishes from birth to age 8. As an educator for children in early education, an important part of your job is to inspire curiosity, dreams, and awe in your students. A career in early childhood education can involve teaching, tutoring, mentoring, and counseling individuals who are at this critical age. A 4-year bachelor’s program will prepare you with the knowledge and skills needed to enter the workforce in early education.
What do I need to apply?
To be admitted to a bachelor’s program, there are a few things you need. If you are applying from high school, then you will need your high school transcripts, letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and SAT or ACT scores. Your high school transcripts should show a minimum GPA of 2.5, and your academic recommendations should be from teachers, counselors, or tutors who can speak on behalf of your academic achievements and motivation.
If you are applying from a community college then you should already have some college credits. These credits should show a minimum of a 2.5 GPA in your general education coursework. If your program is competitive then a higher GPA will be beneficial to your application. Whether you are applying from high school or community college, the application should be filled out online, and a response from the admissions department is generally available within a few weeks.
Online vs. on campus
COVID-19 has altered the traditional teaching methods of higher education. Where before there were only a few classes offered online, there is now an abundance. Teachers and students alike have had to alter their previous methods of education to adhere to the new academic structure. This can be beneficial for people who prefer online education. Now, education is more accessible for people with busy lives, or who live far from campus.
Courses are also being offered with a hybrid component which can benefit people who enjoy online education, and can still manage to fulfill the required in-person contact hour requirements. Whether you are applying for an on-campus or online education, make sure the program you are interested in is accredited.
Does my university need to be accredited?
When you graduate from an accredited university, this shows other higher education institutions, credential programs, licensure agencies, and future employers that the education you have received has been vetted by an accreditation agency. These agencies uphold universities and their programs to a high standard of excellence which maintains consistency with other institutions, and ensures students have the knowledge and skills to continue education or join the workforce.
What will I learn?
Intro to child development
This is an introductory class that will teach you about the development of a human from conception until young adulthood. You will learn about theorists who pioneered the study of child development, and the influence of their work on contemporary thinking.
Assessment and curriculum
Learning the appropriate assessment procedures for young children will teach you about their strengths and weaknesses. This information can help you develop a curriculum and lesson plan that positively influences their development and academic achievement.
Infant and toddler development
This course will focus on the first 3 years of life by examining the cognitive, physical, linguistic, social, and emotional development of infants and toddlers. You will also learn about developmental milestones and stages.
Supervised experiences with young children
This will be a fieldwork component of the program which applies your in-class coursework to real-world practical experience. The amount of hours and locations will be decided by the faculty of your program.
This course will look into the cultural differences of students, parenting styles, and issues they face in the education system. Recognizing and celebrating these cultural differences can create an inclusive learning environment to enhance student learning outcomes for all ages.
Concentrations will deepen your knowledge about a certain area of early childhood education. This is chosen by you based on your interests, or future career and education endeavours.
Social and community
This concentration will focus on social welfare and community impact. It will appeal to individuals who want to pursue a career in government, community, or social careers helping children and families who are struggling with destructive habits, poverty, and other challenges that make life difficult on a daily basis.
If you’d like to pursue a career as a public school teacher then you’ll need to enroll in your state’s credential program. This will provide you with the practical student teaching experience needed to apply for licensure. You will be working alongside a licensed teacher to fulfill your state’s requirements needed for licensure.
Financial aid helps ease the stress of pursuing a 4-year bachelor’s program. Financial assistance comes in a few forms such as grants, loans, and scholarships. One of the most popular forms of financial aid is provided by the federal government and is explained on the Federal Student Aid website. This website also contains information about the different types of assistance available to eligible students at all levels. The free FASFA application can also be completed and submitted from this website.
If you’ve finished, or are about to finish your bachelor’s in early childhood education, and are contemplating continuing education, then some of the next options might interest you. Many career opportunities open when you have a master’s degree in the education field.
Master’s in elementary education
A master’s degree in elementary education will advance your knowledge in the practices, evidence-based research, and methodologies that support elementary education. Typically with a master’s degree in elementary education, your salary will be higher than individuals who only have a bachelor’s degree.
Master’s in child development
A master’s in child development will teach students about developmental content in cognitive, emotional, linguistic, and social aspects. You will dive deeper into empirical research that supports the social welfare, policies, and teaching styles that support children.
Master’s in social work
A master’s degree in social work will give you the knowledge needed to pursue a career in social welfare, government agencies, or community outreach centers that support children and families in need.