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Early Childhood Education

The Breakdown

It goes without saying that an enjoyment of young children is an essential quality for any early childhood education major, but equally important is a love of teaching. Early childhood education programs prepare individuals to teach students from the infant years through grades two or three, generally speaking. Different school systems and state regulations may vary slightly in their specific age ranges. Programs cover all the subject matter covered in these early years, from early literacy skills in reading and writing. You’ll learn about the educational value of play (recess!) and the specific development needs of younger children.

Programs should prepare you to meet the licensing requirements of your program’s home state. Make sure you research the licensing requirements of the state you plan to teach in as well as the requirements of the programs you are considering.

Nuts and Bolts

You will take courses in a variety of subject areas as part of this major. Common courses include:

•    Child Growth and Development
•    Children’s Literature
•    Elementary Math/Science
•    Emergent Literacy
•    Family Systems
•    Speech and Language Development
•    Teaching Strategies

Decisions, Decisions

If you are considering majoring in early childhood education, you may also be interested in exploring majors in child development, child psychology, elementary education, special education, and education psychology. Other programs in child care, social work, art therapy, music therapy, nursing and psychology may also offer opportunities to work with young children, albeit in less of an educational setting.

What's Next

Early childhood education majors most often find work as, unsurprisingly, early childhood teachers or administrators. They work in public and private pre-schools/nursery schools and the lower grades of elementary schools. Usually, states require a certain number of hours in the classroom as a student teacher before full licensure is granted. Other career opportunities exist within educational administration and educational policy (usually after a few years in classroom), educational publishing and curriculum development (producing classroom learning materials), after-school /summer programs and social service/healthcare settings (working as child life specialists or family/parent educators, for example). Additional study at the graduate level and a few years of classroom teaching typically open up many more opportunities.


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