Early childhood education degree completion provides educators with a unique set of skills and base of knowledge to shape and promote learning through all ages, particularly for younger children. Early childhood educators focus on the specific areas of learning that are most essential for children to build the foundation needed to be successful in all academic areas.
Elementary Education Degree Curriculum Overview
For many future educators in the field of early childhood, an undergraduate degree in elementary education is the first step. In this undergraduate degree program, future educators learn the basics for classroom instruction for grades preschool through sixth grade. The curriculum includes course work such as classroom management, literacy instruction, elementary school mathematics, elementary school social studies, communication arts in elementary, and learning assessment and evaluation.
In addition to courses, undergraduate students in these programs will also complete curriculum requirements to gain skill and experience in the practical application of the theories and concepts learned in classwork. These requirements include the completion of fieldwork observation hours and student teaching assignments.
Early Childhood Degree Specialization
An undergraduate degree prepares graduates with a solid foundation for beginning to work with elementary students. In many programs, future educators also have options to specialize a degree in early childhood, gaining further knowledge in techniques and methods for facilitating instruction and fostering learning with an even more specific age group. Courses in this concentration include introduction to early childhood curriculum, early childhood program administration, education psychology, and early emergence in literacy.
Many programs also offer opportunities to focus course work even more in a particular age group. These courses might include infant development, developmental methods for infants, toddler learning, practicum in toddlers with special or exceptional needs, social behaviors in preschool children, assessment of preschool children, identifying special needs in early childhood, and early childhood special education evaluation methods.
Additional Education Options
Some higher education programs are also offered as a bachelor’s degree in early childhood development. These programs include courses that are parallel to those in a specialization track. These degree options, however, typically do not prepare future teachers for state required state licensing and certifications for classroom instruction. For many early childhood educators and education professionals, completing a master’s degree in early childhood education will also be required, particularly for positions outside of classroom instruction.
Career Possibilities for Early Childhood Educators
Early childhood development and education is an increasingly in-demand field that requires qualified professionals to handle a number of areas from research to classroom instruction. As a result, there is a diverse range of possibilities when considering career paths and opportunities. Early childhood professionals and educators can find positions in schools, extension programs offered through school districts and higher education institutions, government agencies, religious and community groups, and non-profit organizations. The National Association for the Education of Young Children offers additional information on career opportunities.
Learning and academic success at all levels of education begins in a child’s formative years, beginning with birth through the age of eight. An early childhood education degree offers future and current educators the ability to focus knowledge and skill in helping infants, toddlers, and children through these ages to strive for and develop the skills needed to enjoy a lifetime of learning.