Early Childhood Education Programs
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Below is a directory (broken down by state) of all of the Early Childhood Education programs we could find, from over 1,700 accredited colleges and universities across the US.
Enrollment in a quality early childhood education program is increasingly recognized as a key to future success. Before 1960, fewer than 10 percent of children attended preschool. Today, that figure has increased to nearly 60 percent according to a report from the Child Trends Databank.
Featured Online Programs:Online programs may not be available in all states
Traditional On Campus Programs:
As an early childhood educator, you can have a positive impact on the social, emotional and cognitive development of the next generation.
Find Early Childhood Education Programs by Degree Level
- Bachelors in Early Childhood Education
- Masters in Early Childhood Education
- Alternative Teacher Certification in Early Childhood Education
Interview with the NAEYC
Below, EducationDegree.com speaks with Dr. Barbara Willer, Deputy Executive Director for the National Association for the Education of Young Children, about the future of early childhood education and the use of technology in early childhood classrooms.
Early Childhood Education Job Description
Early childhood educators provide care, and instruction for children aged three to five years, preparing them emotionally, socially, and academically for elementary school and beyond. Many preschool teachers work a 10-month schedule with two months off for summer vacation. Early childhood educators in a daycare setting, though, typically work year-round.
Finger painting and story time still figure prominently in preschool instruction, but today's preschool teachers also draw on a wealth of research to craft developmentally appropriate instruction in letter recognition, phonics, math, science, and social studies.
Instruction at this age level is accomplished through a combination of play, experience and formal teaching. The delivery method may include small and large group activities, one-on-one instruction, and exposure to literature, music, art, and dance.
Early Childhood Education Requirements
Training requirements for early childhood educators vary from state to state and even from program to program. Some private preschool programs require only a high school degree and experience working with young children. Other institutions, particularly state-funded programs, require coursework at a community college or a college degree in child development or early childhood education.
The National Association for Early Childhood Teacher Educators advocates that teachers in state sponsored pre-K and kindergarten programs be required to hold an early childhood certification and/or endorsement from a qualified teacher-training program.
Early Childhood Education Career Outlook
Job opportunities for early childhood educators should be plentiful over the next decade. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that employment in the early childhood education field will grow faster than the average through 2018. Because turnover is high in preschool education, there will be plenty of openings for qualified candidates.
Average salaries for early childhood educators are lower than those of teachers in elementary and secondary schools. The Bureau reports that the median annual salary for preschool teachers was $23, 870 in 2008. The bottom 10 percent of preschool teachers earned less than $16,000 per year, while the top 10 percent averaged just over $41,000 annually.
Early Childhood Education Trends
Because research continues to highlight the importance of early learning on children's future academic and social success, government spending on early childhood education has increased dramatically in the last decade. A study by the Education Commission of the States reports that states spent an estimated $3.5 billion on pre-kindergarten education in 2006 compared with only $200 million in 1998. Some states now mandate full-day and/or universal preschool.
Early education teachers can expect to work with increasingly diverse student populations. Preschool teachers will need to be comfortable teaching students from a variety of religious, racial and ethnic backgrounds.
Early Childhood Education Degrees Online
Online early childhood education programs can be "enormously effective." Michelle Beedle, program coordinator for the School of Education at Rasmussen College, noted this in a January 2010 article for her college's website about the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Conference.
In addition to being effective, online degree programs are flexible. Students may access classes at any time of the day or night. Typical courses include early childhood growth and development, children's literature and early childhood teaching methodology.
Look for online programs that are accredited by a professional organization such as the National Association for the Education of Young Children or the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. Also, make sure the program offers real-world experience through internships and student teaching practicums.
The length of time it takes to complete an online degree in early childhood education depends upon the individual and the program. Western Governors University in Indiana estimates that students with an associate degree can complete their online degree in two years, while students with no college experience may take four to five years.
Online Early Childhood Education Degrees to Consider:
Western Governors University was the first online teacher licensure degree program to be accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. Its 122-credit Bachelor of Arts in early childhood education is aligned with the standards of the National Association for the Education of Young Children and designed for those who want to work with children from birth through age eight. This program includes a teaching practicum.
Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas, offers an online Bachelor of Science in child development and family living. This program is based on the principles of the Head Start program and accredited through the American Association of Family & Consumer Sciences. It focuses on teaching students to nurture the social and cognitive development of young children.
If you'd like to move out of the classroom and into administration, consider Post University's online certificate program in early childhood education administration. This program includes courses on the developmental needs of young children but also focuses on the business aspects of managing early childhood education programs.
Curriculum Information for Early Childhood Education
A major in early childhood education includes setting the foundations of a child's introduction to learning outside the home. An environment for learning must incorporate different education styles to accommodate the uniqueness of each individual child and how they explore their world. Some of the core courses in early childhood education may include the following:
Introduction to Early Childhood Growth and Development
Experiences in the preschool years prepare children with the foundations for lifelong learning. The socialization of children to their environment is influenced as they learn to interact with peers, teachers and pets. This course can introduce prospective teachers to a child's physical, intellectual and emotional development from birth to eight or nine years old that relates to learning.
The recognition of children's psychosocial, cognitive and language in the early stages of development can provide teachers with the assessment skills to evaluate appropriate milestones and expected maturational processes. Through developmental theory models, you can observe children and evaluate their individual differences and characteristics of development in various stages.
Learning the Principles and Practices of Teaching Young Children
Prospective teachers can learn to use theoretical principles to develop appropriate programs for children at various ages. Teaching strategies are supported by the promotion of healthy relationships, adult-child interactions and a child's individual learning style. Teachers can learn to provide environments for children in the classroom that foster exploration and are age appropriate.
Teachers can also learn to organize a classroom schedule that allows enough time for children to initiate and complete assignments, engage in activities and explore their creativity and self-expression. Educators learn how to use theory and research to implement appropriate programs for children, apply advocacy and learn teaching ethics related to education.
Child Literacy Development
Literacy is a skill set comprised of speaking, reading, writing and listening. Children form values and beliefs at home, school and in the course of their social interactions. Teaching children a valuable language structure, reading skills, vocabulary and self-expression is an important component of early childhood development and the formation of abstract ideas.
This course concentrates on the theory-based learning models that teach children to form concepts and express their identity. Educators learn to plan and implement programs and exercises that are grounded in evidence-based learning research that teach children literacy that is appropriate for their age and maturation.
Learning Disabilities and Special Needs
Teachers need to recognize the physical and emotional learning barriers that children may experience in the development process. The identification of children with special needs is imperative in early childhood to address concerns before learning disabilities affect the emotional aspect of the school age child.
This course instructs prospective teachers on the identification of common disabilities, referral to appropriate team members for possible testing applications and the adaptation of the learning environment for special needs children. In addition, students learn how to dialogue with parents and discuss the concerns for children in a positive and constructive manner.
Curriculum Design and Evaluation
Early childhood educators are autonomous professionals that design and construct their programs for their students. Teachers identify individual needs in their students and devise learning assignments and activities that meet their unique needs and level of maturity. Learning theories and research guides the teacher to successfully apply the learning techniques to the individual child.
This course provides educators with the knowledge to identify and construct individual assignments to meet the needs of children. With evaluation tools grounded in a research-based framework, teachers can revise and assess their learning strategies with success.
The Outlook for Early Childhood Teachers
With numerous studies that have purported the importance of early childhood learning, the U.S. News & World Report has indicated that education reform has promised to hire more teachers and fund new programs that promote learning for very young children. Teachers that specialize in early childhood are expected to see an increase in opportunities for curriculum and design positions, administration in private and public schools and publically funded child learning centers.
If you are ready to pursue new opportunities in early childhood education, start comparing programs by using our free directory and resources for educators. Be sure to compare multiple programs in your search to choose the right one for you!
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