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Do You Need an Early Childhood Education Degree?
Early childhood education (ECE) refers to the period of learning for a child from when they are born to when they are eight years old. The lessons a child learns during this period help them develop the essential skills of learning and participating in a learning environment. Various programs and approaches exist to the curricula for teaching children from the preschool level up to the end of early childhood. All are designed to help the learners reach specific cognitive standards and benchmarks crucial for the continuation of their education.
With this information in mind, you might be wondering what an early education degree entails and what it offers. This guide has details about the Early Childhood Education Degree and other relevant information. It will help you decide if the degree is for you.
What Does An Early Childhood Education Degree Offer?
Pursuing a degree in ECE gives you a better understanding of early childhood growth and development fundamentals. It also introduces you to the education and curriculum that works best and enhances your leadership and advocacy for young students.
A bachelor’s program in early childhood education includes courses like:
- Social and Behavioral Sciences
- Cognition and Behavior
- Preschool Behavior
- Classroom Management
- Language Development
- Infant and Toddler Mental Health
- Teaching Children with Special Needs
Your ultimate career goal is crucial in helping you decide if a degree in early childhood education is the right choice. Learning takes both time and money, and it’s vital to determine how much of each you can dedicate to the learning process.
What Can You Do with an Early Childhood Education Degree?
Once you earn a degree in early childhood education, you will be in a better position to start a rewarding career in teaching young children. It prepares you to teach young learners ranging from birth to eight or nine years. As an early childhood educator, you play a critical role in the lives of young learners as they strive to lay a foundation for a lifetime of learning.
You will also be expected to identify and instruct learning disabilities, special needs, or developmental delays. At this level, you are responsible for creating a safe, caring, and educational environment where learners under your care can maximize their potential. It’s also your responsibility to help these students achieve their learning milestones and surpass them.
A degree in early childhood education can open your path to various careers. While you can pursue licensure to become an elementary or kindergarten teacher, you also qualify for other jobs in childcare management, preschool education, and education administration.
Teaching Jobs Available for Early Childhood Education Degree Holders
Outlined below are some of the top jobs for degree holders in early childhood education.
As a preschool teacher, you have the responsibility of administering basic lessons associated with helping young learners achieve specific developmental standards. The daily activities involved in this position include working with children individually and in group settings and organizing entertaining educational activities. It also entails tracking each student’s progress and creating daily schedules. In addition, you will be equipped with the training and skills to use a child’s desire to play and be active as an advantage while teaching them.
Kindergarten and Elementary School Teacher
Most of the daily activities and responsibilities associated with being a Kindergarten and Elementary School Teacher closely mirror those of a Preschool Teacher. You will prepare lesson plans and daily class schedules while tracking the students’ progress. Emotional and social lessons play a crucial role in this position.
In this stage of education, your responsibilities become more complex as the learners continue to build on the foundational knowledge instilled in them in preschool. However, while preschool learning tends to happen in one classroom, kindergarten learners move around much more during the day. For example, they need to move from one classroom to another for different lessons, head to the lunchroom to eat, and participate in field trips.
Special Education Teacher
Special Education Teachers work with children who have emotional, mental, learning, or physical disabilities, but the profession is not regulated to early childhood education. This means that as a trained Special Education Teacher, you can work with learners through high school.
The responsibilities for this position are diverse, and they can change depending on the student’s capabilities. Generally, Special Education Teachers must determine the learners’ educational needs, assess and reassess the students’ skills, and discuss their progress with the parents and school staff. Besides, you also must plan activities geared towards the specific abilities of the students. You will also play a crucial role in guiding the students’ transition from one grade to the other.
Becoming a teaching assistant is a lesser-known option for ECE degree holders. Teaching assistants work under the supervision of a classroom teacher, helping them complete various tasks. Some duties and responsibilities include preparing classroom materials, documenting student performance, and assisting the teacher in managing the class. As a teaching assistant, you will also work closely with special needs students or those in need of extra tutoring.
Other Positions You Can Hold with an Early Childhood Education Degree
The above teaching careers only represent the baseline of the kind of work you can do if you have an Early Childhood Education Degree. Other positions you can hold include:
Childcare Center Director
Childcare Center and Preschool Directors work away from the classroom, focusing on the bigger picture of managing a learning center for younger students. Their primary responsibility is to supervise and monitor teachers and other staff and non-staff members in the learning community. They also have an obligation to hire new educators and influence daily curricular and various standards for the learners. Other duties include communicating with parents, allocating funds, and ensuring the center is up to safety and health standards.
A Childcare Worker shares various responsibilities with preschool teachers. However, their roles are usually outside the traditional classroom setting. They look after children, introduce children to basic concepts, and create schedules around play, education, and nourishment. Childcare Workers also help learners prepare for the next level of learning, mostly kindergarten.
Through the help of these workers, children can build social relationships and build on the activities that interest them the most. Childcare Workers may also work with older children before or after school, where they would be helping with several facets of the curriculum.
School Counselor or Psychologist
People with a degree in ECE can work as School Counselors or Psychologists. They can help students develop the social or academic skills that help them succeed academically. These are skills not typically taught in a classroom environment, such as managing time effectively.
Counselors meet with students individually or in small groups to identify the areas they could do with some extra help. They also try to identify problems that could hinder the academic success of these students and help them resolve the issues. For the best results, counselors collaborate with learners, parents, and teachers to resolve these issues.
What is a Child Development Degree?
A Child Development Degree is designed for people who wish to gain skills to help them work with children from infancy to adolescence. It equips educators with the adequate knowledge to understand children and family, peers, culture, school, and neighborhood contexts. The courses include various topics, including behavior and language acquisition.
Professionals with a degree in Child Development can work in a variety of in-demand careers. These include:
- Childcare Center Director in Elementary School: the typical work setting for these professionals is at a school or local board office.
- Day Care Director: having a qualified director to handle the curriculum, oversee teachers, and take care of the budget in a daycare center is an advantage.
- Preschool Admissions Coach: this professional’s job is to ensure toddlers get to the preschool of their choice. They coach parents and ensure the children are ready for school.
- Early Childhood Education Specialist: this area focuses on special education and designing curricula for students with special needs.
A Child Development Degree differs from an Early Childhood Education degree. It mainly focuses on helping the student utilize the knowledge of child development to develop and evaluate a curriculum that assists in every stage of development, including language, cognitive, physical, and affective development. Generally, educators apply this knowledge as advocates for children, their families, education, and childcare.
On the other hand, an ECE degree is formatted to give pre-service teachers a specialist education to work with pre-K to third-grade students. Therefore, it is a good fit for you if you wish to teach at these grade levels and attain state-level certification. Besides, you will be qualified to seek positions in both public and private schools.
Are You Interested in Early Childhood Education?
Pursuing a career that lets you work with children provides you with an opportunity to serve the community. By educating children, you make a better life for the next generation of young people. You will make an impact on their lives as they impact yours. First, however, you need to be sure that you are making a decision you won’t regret.
If you would like help in getting started in an Early Childhood Education program, Wonderschool can help. We are here to support you and open you up to a network of early childhood education programs in your state. In addition, we have a community of mentors to guide you in the right direction. Contact us today for more information.