Components of an ECE Bachelor’s Degree
The bachelor’s degree in early childhood education prepares graduates to teach young children that range in age from infants to third grade, or about nine years old. Childhood education is the foundation for a lifetime of learning and productive contributions to self, family, and the community. Early education teachers guide young students through formative periods for thinking, learning, and communicating. They learn social skills, language skills, and how learning environments work.
What is Early Childhood Education?
Professor James Heckman at the University of Chicago authored a groundbreaking research study that showed the impact of early investment of resources in child education in disadvantaged families. His work showed the importance of early investment and the magnificent returns on that investment for the entire society. The impact of professor Heckman’s work inspired renewed efforts to expand early childhood education investments towards birth through five rather than waiting until—as his findings showed- it was too late to achieve maximum benefits.
Early childhood education reaches children at the right time to stimulate patterns of learning and confidence that can drive a lifetime of learning and success. Just as important, the detectable problems and issues in learning can be found at the early stages when they too offer the best chance of treatment, therapy, or other approaches.
Early childhood is a driver of development into productive adulthood. The critical learning periods occur early in life, as Professor Hickman and many others have demonstrated. Early education teachers can provide a spark that will continue. Teaching skills must meet the nature of the child’s learning abilities. Early childhood educators must have knowledge and skills that enable the creation of appropriate and engaging learning environments.
ECE Bachelor's Degree Programs
Students can take a course of study that leads to a baccalaureate in early childhood education at an accredited school, college, or university. They can also take much of the same course of study online. Key parts of teacher education are the practicum coursework that involves hands-on supervised work in teaching settings, and the practice-teacher opportunities in which students work in classroom settings. Students learn to teach under mentoring from an experienced licensed teacher. These practicums must be completed in order to receive your teacher certification, so it is not possible to complete this entire degree online.
What Can I Do with an ECE Bachelor’s Degree?
The Early Childhood Education degree opens teaching and a number of additional career paths. The education coursework expands personal skills to increase patience and improve social perception ability. The physical demands will require stamina, and the detailed thought and planning processes will test critical thinking and decision making.
Early Childhood Education careers
- Teaching in Kindergarten
- Teaching in Early Elementary Grades
- Special Education Teaching
- Early Childhood Education Administration
- Public Health and Social Health Work
- Private Teaching, Consulting, and Entrepreneurship (childcare centers or in-home work)
Where Can I Work?
A bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education supports work in public schools for graduates that achieve teaching licenses, certifications, and endorsements as required by state law.
Some of the earliest contacts between children and educators come in the form of daycare. Daycare directors use their ECE knowledge and skills to develop educational components that enrich the daycare experience with initial levels of learning. This type of activity is essential for a strong start. The first years are the most beneficial for investing in educational resources in children. Many ECE graduates find private family employment in the early stages of child development. People who use homeschooling, or simply wish to provide the best possible start for their children, may turn to Early Education Experts. Private arrangements offer opportunities for an intensive focus on the needs of one or a small group of children.
In the preschool environment, ECE graduates work as teachers, administrators, and early childhood education consultants. In the public and private school environments, ECE grads work as kindergarten and elementary school teachers. Public schools require licenses and specific training if the teaching is specialized. In public and private school settings, ECE graduates work as special education teachers. In this role, they use their specialized skills and knowledge to develop family support systems and engaging learning environments that meet the child’s abilities and needs.
Social service organizations, faith-based groups, and charitable organizations employ ECS graduates as teachers, advisors, and consultants to create, operate, or improve early education in their services that involve young children and families with young children.
ECE Salary & Earning Potential
|Special Education Teacher||$47,500|
|English Language Learner Teacher||$41,500|
|Elementary School Teacher||$44,400|
|Early Childhood Education Specialist||$41,000|
Bachelor Degree Requirements & Prerequisites
High school graduation or a GED is the primary educational prerequisite for a Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education. Students must also take standard student ranking tests, such as the SAT and ACT. Teaching requires personal integrity, a strong work ethic, and personal responsibility. Character issues can interfere with the selection because the field ultimately involves caring for typically vulnerable children. Students with strong language, communications, and science skills have an advantage for selection.
After admission to an accredited institution, Early Childhood students must complete a total of 120 to 130 semester hours of coursework. Schools that prepare graduates for the state’s licensing examinations will also require a period of internship or practice teaching.
The basic structure of the bachelor’s program is a foundation in liberal arts subjects and general education. ECE students must have a well-rounded education that includes mathematics, physical sciences, life sciences, and communications. They should have a good foundation in language and literature. Technology is a growing part of education at all levels. ECS students must be able to use standard computer programs and common devices. They must also have a level of comfort with technology that can assist young learners and learners with limited abilities.
The general education phase is the basis for four semesters of intensive Early Childhood coursework, practicums, and practice teaching. The major courses have a required core that all early education majors must complete. The courses can add courses and electives that form specializations. Some typical areas of early childhood education specialization include English as a Second Language, Special Needs Children and Families, and Speech-Language Pathology.
At the end of the course curriculum and practice teaching, students can sit for state examinations and obtain a teaching license. States require licensing for public school teachers and many require them for all types of teaching. Teaching licenses must state the specific areas for which a teacher has certification. Typically, licenses certify competence in an age group, special population group, or technical field of practice. Graduates can qualify for licenses specific to the Early Childhood Education field of practice. When attending certain schools and programs, graduates may qualify for specialists’ credentials. For example, graduates with training in special needs education can get a specific license. The state of Indiana issues an Early Childhood Generalist and Exceptional Needs through Grade Three License.
Examples of Required Classes for ECE Majors include:
- Introduction to Curriculum & Instruction for the Early Childhood Classroom
- Early Childhood Development
- Positive Behavior Guidance for Young Children
- Cognitive Development of Infants & Young Children
Specialized Bachelor’s Degree Options
Early childhood education is important for its potential impact on the lives of the youngest students. Early childhood educators have a dramatic opportunity to detect learning disabilities. The specialization in early childhood includes Special Education, Language and Speech Problems, and English Language Learner Teaching.
- Special Education
English as a Second Language poses challenges when working with children in the birth to the third-grade range. The below-listed titles illustrate ESL Sample courses:
- Educating Young English Learners
- Language Use and Acquisition in Early Childhood
- Methods of Teaching Young English Learners
- English as a Second Language
Children with Exceptional Needs is a branch of Early Childhood Education that involves children with special needs and their families. ‘Special Needs’ is a phrase that describes physical, emotional, behavioral, and other conditions that form a child’s ability to learn. The critical elements of the field involve detection of conditions, collaboration with other experts to form a comprehensive approach, and working to enlist support and inform the family of the plan for assisting the child’s educational advancement.
The below-listed course titles describe some typical classes for special needs educators.
- Creating and Managing Engaging Learning Environments
- Intervention Strategies Course
- Assistive Technology Courses
Skills & Attributes You Will Learn
Listening and Communications are essential to successful ECE teaching. Listening is an attribute that must also be developed as a skill. Attentive listening is unfortunately rare, but it is a primary part of the ECE classroom setting. Teachers must be able to absorb information from the perspective of the child. Listening purposefully comes with a depth of knowledge as it is a primary method for detecting the strengths and weaknesses in a child’s educational level and learning preparedness.
Communications skills involve the child, the family, and elements of the community. Graduates will have to address individuals and groups with confidence and provide informative presentations of evidence-based information.
Organizing is an important skill for ECE teaching. Teaching young children may take place in classrooms and play areas, but the record keeping, progress reports, and note-taking must be done to provide a reliable record of observations, teaching efforts, and student progress.
Curriculum planning is a skill that transcends nearly every type of teaching. ECE teachers have a particularly difficult task of adapting their ideas to the situations of young learners. The goal of curriculum planning is to create optimal learning environments for all students.
What to Expect with an ECE Bachelor’s Degree
Today, students can choose on-campus or online education. The type of education can meet students’ needs if it is from an accredited institution. Accreditation can help finance the degree because only accredited schools can participate in federal, state, and many private grants and scholarship funds.
The degree will require completion in good standing of a long series of demanding courses. Students will have to master challenging concepts and put them into action in actual classroom settings. The student will gain new perspectives and competencies and they will have to learn to identify with every child and treat them and their families with a fundamental level of respect and courtesy.
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