Early childhood development or early childhood education may be offered as the major in a program or it may be offered as a concentration or area of specialization for a Bachelors or Masters degree. Associates degree programs are available.
Depending on whether you have a Associates, Bachelors, or Masters in Early Childhood Education, as well as the area or areas of specialization you choose, you may find employment in child-and day-care centers.
Federal programs like Head Start; hospitals; elementary schools; libraries; museums; private or public schools; schools with special education programs; or settings where young children must be tutored because they can’t attend public schools.
Most states require a minimum of 120 hours of early childhood education plus the passing of the Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential to qualify for employment in childhood education. Starting your focus at the associate’s level will help set you up for the greatest chances of success at the bachelor’s level and beyond.
What’s more, there are many 100% online programs that will help you build a foundation in core areas, such as: group and one-on-one work, curriculum development, and working with the emotional and developmental needs of children at this age.
Although most states require more hours for working with children at the pre-K and elementary level, choosing this path at the associate’s level can be your best chance for long-term success in the field.
Bachelors programs are where you can complete your credentials and become licensed to work in most states. Many reputable schools offer Bachelor of Science programs completely online. Many of these programs offer a built-in minor that equips students with the skills to work with special needs children.
Areas of Study
At the bachelor’s level, you will learn the complexities of working with children, their parents, and teachers in your school system. You can also learn effective assessment strategies for helping students thrive in a variety of learning environments.
Master’s programs and Education Specialist programs in early childhood education will help you get to the next level in your career.
Who is a Master’s Degree For?
These programs are geared towards professionals who want to reach administrative and executive level roles in their district. These programs can also help graduates branch out and work for a variety of companies and government agencies that need to understand childhood development and effective learning strategies. These could be companies that create educational materials or agencies that oversee educational standards at the local and national level.
Although many graduate programs require field experiences to complete your early childhood education, there are several 100% online programs at all levels of the field. Online programs offer students the convenience of learning in ways that are flexible to their schedules. In these programs, you will most likely utilize an online dashboard where you can view coursework and communicate with your instructors and peers.
You may be required to take quizzes and tests at particular times, or chime in to scheduled discussions, depending on your course structure. Many programs use a tool called Blackboard, which is a cutting edge communication tool for students, professors and administrators.
Whether organizing daily assignments, video conferencing with your teacher about your performance, or downloading important reading materials, Blackboard covers it. With capabilities across desktop, tablet, and mobile devices, this online tool helps everyone involved in the educational process always have handy access to everything they need to learn.
Another advantage of many online programs is your ability to create a more flexible timeline for completing your degree. Numerous universities have online options for students that they can complete full- or part-time in their variety of online early childhood and adolescent development programs.
To put it simply, an early childhood degree program will help you learn the proficiency required of teachers at the pre-K and elementary levels. These programs include courses that help students assess behavior, performance, and create strategies for student and school performance. You can learn to work with students, their teachers and parents to create better learning outcomes for students from all socioeconomic backgrounds and needs.
The higher you go in your early childhood education, the more opportunities you will have to make a greater impact in your school. These programs vary between broad curriculum and coursework that is tailored for specific kinds of students, such as English as a second language learners and other distinct types of learners.
Earning your degree in childhood education can open the doors to careers in several types of school environments. When you graduate with a bachelor’s degree or higher and receive licensure from your state, you can pursue positions such as preschool teacher at a public school.
You can also work as a elementary teacher, consultant for families who have children with unique challenges, manage a child care center. Some graduates at the master’s or doctorate level go on to perform important research or work for private companies who create education products, such as mobile apps, for children at this age.
Those who want to work as preschool teachers can expect to earn a median wage of $28,570 per year. But that total jumps to $54,550 per year for kindergarten and elementary school teachers. Both professional tracks are growing as fast as the national average.
To increase your opportunities, we highly recommend earning as many certifications as you can, and considering graduate level degree programs.
You can expect the opportunities to increase and vary as more parents look for alternative ways to teach their pre-K children, and the growth of private and charter schools across the country.
This may result in an increase of in-home employment opportunities and consulting work for families who have unique needs. The best way to get in tune with the upcoming prospects in the field are to discuss the job landscape with several schools in your area, and those who offer accredited online programs to students across the US.
An associate degree in early childhood education can prepare students to work in daycare or early childcare centers. Combining theory with practical experiences, this two-year program has courses in safe, healthy learning environments; infant, toddler and child development; speech communication; and family dynamics & community development. Students also complete internships at approved sites at the beginning and end of the programs. A graduate of this program may find work as a preschool teacher in childcare centers.
The most common degree level for students looking for initial licensure and certification as early childhood teachers is the 4-year bachelor degree program. Boston University’s program focuses largely on field experiences as well as coursework. The student will do field work in an elementary school at the beginning of the program, spend a semester in a pre-school the junior year and complete an internship in a public school the final year. This type of curriculum is very common in bachelor degree teaching programs. Before graduates can obtain licensure they must complete student teaching segments. This is the case in most states.
Students completing a master degree program in early childhood education will be prepared to work with children from birth through age eight and obtain certification in early childhood education. In addition to completing major-related coursework, the student completes a portfolio that demonstrates his or her ability to determine, understand and apply knowledge to issues that may arise in in early childhood.
The student starts the portfolio in the beginning of the programs and works on it throughout the 30-37-credit program. In addition, the student spends eight weeks working with a licensed early childhood teacher to gain practical experience. Research projects are also a part of master degree programs. Course topics include block building, special education, the gifted child, and sensory learning. Master degree programs usually take about two years of study beyond the bachelor degree.
Individuals who want to work in research or teach early childhood education to others often choose doctoral degree programs. Applicants, who must already have a master degree, can expect to complete about 60 credits. Unlike bachelor and master degree programs that focus largely on coursework and internships, doctoral degree programs divide the curriculum among coursework, research, specializations, and dissertation research and presentations. Doctoral degree programs may also offer fellowships and study abroad opportunities.
Early childhood development programs are also available online for students that can’t attend college full time or on campus. Some online programs have concentrations in infant and toddler care, which can include various courses revolving around early childhood development and education and culminates typically with a capstone project where the student takes what they learned and implements it into an educational program for young children.
All teachers have important jobs when molding young minds, but the kindergarten teacher is the very first teacher a young child will face when entering school.
Therefore it takes an extra special person to become a teacher to teach the youngest of minds, getting them ready for 1st grade and beyond. You will need a college education – a Bachelors Degree in Education at a minimum and in many cases a Masters in Education Degree – along with a wealth of patience and creativity.
What Do Kindergarten Teachers Do?
Kindergarten teachers help teach students individually and in group settings, teach basic skills that are integral to living (color / shape / number / letter recognition, personal hygiene, social, behavior skills), and start laying the groundwork for following rules, policies, and procedures. Below are some of the top skills found among kindergarten teachers.
It is a good idea to “test the waters” to figure out if you are truly passionate about teaching young children. It takes a special person to teach kindergarten. Many people volunteer as a substitute, or as part-time help with a kindergarten class or preschool. It is also helpful to know what makes a great kindergarten teacher.
Nearly every lead kindergarten teacher has a Bachelors Degree in Education at a minimum, and many have their master’s in education with a specialty in early childhood education. You can search for bachelor’s programs here, or find master’s in education degrees on this page. View the featured programs below or scroll down to find early childhood education programs.
After your undergraduate studies, it is a good idea to get into the field. Some bachelor’s programs require an internship of some sort.
The Praxis I, or Pre-Professional Skills Test (PPST), consists of three exams in reading, writing, and mathematics, and for most graduate level programs you need to have passed it in order to earn your teacher certification. The Praxis II tests are for more specific subcategories of teaching (counseling, or special needs education).
a.) Find a job as a kindergarten teacher.
Use your college’s career center to help find open teaching positions. You can also check with your local schools and utilize networks such as LinkedIn to build a network and find a job.
b.) Pursue a graduate-level teaching degree.
Rather than attempting to jump in to the field of teaching, most people decide to get their Master’s in Early Childhood Education. This provides another level of education and is another great checkpoint to add to your resume. Click here to view accredited early childhood education programs that you can get in contact with right now.
To teach kindergarten children, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree and you’ll need to get certified after graduation. To become a certified teacher, you’ll need to pass a series of tests. Some states require that teachers of kindergartners hold a master’s degree. Your college degree should focus on Elementary Education or Early Childhood Education as a major. And, generally, a student teaching internship is required before entering the field. You’ll want to gain plenty of experience working with children as well.
Required key skills of kindergarten teachers include an abundance of patience, excellent communication skills, and plenty of creativity. If you have a passion and desire to work with young minds, you more than likely already have these skills.
If you love children and have always wanted to become a teacher, it’s time to consider the right education and career path to accomplish your goal. There are many types of careers for graduates of all levels of degree programs, from associates, bachelors, masters, specialist, and doctorate level tracks. Not only that, but before you even begin your education or complete your degree, you can start working in the field at private daycare run facilities. As you complete more and more of your education, you can make an even greater impact in your school system, daycare facility or other educational institution.
No matter which type of career you choose, you should have a passion and love for teaching and working with your children. During these formative years, they will look to you as a role model that will help shape their learning, social behavior, and self-esteem for the rest of their lives. You must be able to practice an almost zen-like level of patience, and have the communication skills to express yourself simply and clearly. In every role, you will mostly likely have to develop the skills to help kids’ parents understand their children better and play their own role in helping their kids become successful students.
The following information can help you determine which path is right for you. However, there are many additional paths in the field you can take. Additional positions include child and family social worker, personal care aid, special education teacher, and guidance counselor for young children. That’s why you should contact several schools in your area, and those who offer online options to find out more about the career paths you can follow with a degree or interest in early childhood education.
The salary outlook for childcare worker is $20,320 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). These entry-level positions can be a great choice for those who haven’t earned their degree yet and want to work with the youngest children. The job outlook for childcare workers is anticipated to grow as fast as the national average.
If you want to work at the kindergarten or elementary level, the average pay increases, but so do your requirements to be considered a job applicant.
Those who reach the level of childcare director at a pre-K facility are responsible for managing the structure, curriculum and overall organization of their facility.
Of course, your anticipated salary will depend largely on your location, type of role, and environment in which you choose to work. That’s why it is essential that you speak to schools in your area about the current employment landscape, even if you plan on taking one of the several accredited online programs available for early childhood career preparation.
Pre-K professionals have their hands full of excited young minds who are usually eager to learn, ask questions, and look up to their teachers for guidance during these formative years. If you want to be a preschool teacher, you can help students get their first experiences with organized activities, reading, math, art and music, and other areas that form into more structured subjects at the elementary school level. Preschool teachers typically work in private settings, including those run by religious organizations or independently run schools that apply particular learning methods or philosophies to their practice.
When deciding which kind of preschool you want to work in, it can be a good idea to visit several different types in your area and talk to the people who work there and run them. You may decide that you want to work at a place that is more skewed towards education and learning than free-time and unstructured play.
Classroom learning at this level is usually centered around an introduction to literacy and basic math skills for children who are 4-5 years old. It is important to remember with this age group that you are there to inspire and spark curiosity as much as you are there to teach them and assess their behavior. Even though some activities may seem like they are geared to pass the time and inspire fun, you will learn that you can glean a great deal of information from music, art, and games to help students improve their communication and learning functions, as well as peer interaction.
You should be ready to display a high level of patience and ability to communicated with all types of children. To work in a publicly funded facility you will most likely need to have a bachelor’s degree and pass your state’s requirements for licensure. However, earning your degree and upping your qualifications can increase your salary range in this field. It can also open up more doors for opportunity in your career trajectory.
If you purse an education that qualifies you to become a kindergarten teacher, you can start working in a role that helps students adjust to this exciting and challenging time in their education. This is the first big step in education for children, as they are now attending school with children older and more developed than them, and the expectations for learning and achievement are higher than at the pre-K level. This is not to say that it is easier to work at the preschool level. But kindergartners quickly realize their day is more structured, assignments are more complicated, and there are more subjects for them to learn as they get introduced to the curriculum.
As their teacher, it will be imperative that you understand how to communicate with children effectively as they learn how to read, use computers, improve their math skills, and learn basic scientific concepts. You will be their gateway into what’s to come as they progress in their education, and it’s important that you are passionate about teaching, so your students will remain engaged and inspired to learn.
Choosing the right degree program is critical for success as a kindergarten teacher. When earning your degree, you will probably take courses in diversity and learn how to engage children from all socioeconomic backgrounds. This is also important because children show up to their first day of kindergarten with a wide variety of pre-K backgrounds. Some will have never set foot in a classroom, while others are already doing math and displaying reading skills. Having the ability and patience to work with children across the spectrum will make you more effective in your role. This is where your courses in assessment and development will come in handy.
As a childcare director at the preschool level, you will oversee the curriculum structure and teaching styles that are implemented at your school. This can be a big responsbility, and one that requires constant assessment, evaluation and modification to ensure you are serving your students and teachers well. Many professionals who work their way up to this role spend their initial years working as daycare staff while completing their bachelor’s level degree in early childhood education.
You will spend your time assessing teacher performance as much as you assess student performance and behavior. Having the ability to understand teaching styles and philosophies, which you can learn while earning your degree, will pay off as you explain to your staff the why behind your guidance. You may spend a significant amount of your time helping teachers and parents learn how to play a more effective role helping students be more successful.
In some cases, your role as childcare director can stem into administrative areas, such as budgets, legal and ethical issues, and human resources. This is where a well-rounded education can pay off. Having an understanding of accounting, administrative tasks, basic computer technology, and management skills can help you in this role. If you are seeking the right degree program to become a childcare director, make sure you speak with advisers about the scope of courses offered so you can be sure you pick a program that is a good fit for this career path.
Working as daycare staff can be a role that wears many hats. When you are taking care of children whose ages can range anywhere from newborn to 5 years old, there can be quite a range of responsibilities that you should be ready for. You may be changing diapers one minute and reading to a group the next. Although you may not need a college degree to work in private preschools, you will need to have a real love of children and ability to constantly focus on and assess their behavior. Children at this age are learning about the world around them at a rapid pace, and you are a role model for a large portion of their day.
Having strong communication skills is also essential in this role. You will be working with children, their parents, and other daycare staff to ensure the kids are set up for success. This is not always easy, but it can be very rewarding, especially when positive outcomes are achieved.
In this role you should also have an understanding of health and safety issues that are common for children this age. It can be a good idea to take a CPR or other type of emergency preparedness course. With so many lives literally in your hands every day, you will want to be as prepared as possible to ensure a safe environment for children to thrive and parents to feel comfortable leaving their children for significant portions of their day.
Teaching assistants typically require some level of college education; at least an associate’s level degree, and can earn a median wage of $24,900 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In elementary settings, teacher assistants help supervise children, manage activities and grade assignments to help teachers perform their jobs more effectively. In many ways, your job functions as a teacher assistant will mimic what the teacher is required to do, including communicating with parents and administrators the progress of children and the effectiveness of activities.
Teacher assistants should have an understanding of basic child development so they can understand the purpose of tasks and convey information and join discussions that will enhance the learning environments.
Becoming a teacher assistant can be the best way to transition from your education into a career. Not only will this role prepare you for what to expect managing your own classroom, but you can gain insight from teachers who have years of experience in the field. Networking with like-minded professionals will also help you in your search for available positions once you meet the requirements to become full-time faculty.
In addition to your network of classmates and professionals that you meet along your path, it is essential to join organizations that help early childhood educators obtain the resources they need to remain successful in this field.
Another place you can find information is the National Institute for Early Education Research. This organization offers a plethora of research findings that can inform you of new developments and best practices for teaching young children. They also help shape national conversations and policy for the field.
The National Association for the Education of Young Children provides another helpful way for educators to gain insight, access to resources, and their own magazine publication that is helpful to teachers and educators of all types involved in early childhood education. With over 70,000 members, this organization is one you should keep at the top of your list to learn more about as you choose the right path for your education.
Early childhood education is a subset of psychology that offers many degree options and career paths for students interested in working in the field. No matter what role you’re after, you will need a keen understanding of how the human mind works in regards to learning and the different ways you can assess and modify behavior for children in the age group you are working with. No matter which of the career paths described below you choose, there are some common traits of workers in this field that can help spur success.
If you have strong communication skills and have the ability to communicate complex thoughts in simple ways, you will have an easier time connecting with children. With kids at a young age, there are many types of learners and styles of teaching that will need to be applied, depending on the mental and physical needs of the child. Having the ability to express your thoughts with patience and empathy are critical in every career path in the field. Regardless of which occupation you teach, you will need an early childhood education degree. Continue reading for more info and to figure out which degree path may be best.
Educators who want to make a difference in children’s lives, and make an impact in their local school systems can thrive in early childhood education. Although the careers described below are important, you can aim to work in leadership roles, helping make sure educational standards are as high as they can be.
Having the experience of working in one of the following career choices can give you first-hand experience and ideas for how to implement organizational improvements.
Additionally, with the rising population and growing diversity among student populations, career opportunities should continue to grow in the coming years. The need for quality educators in every facet of the field will continue with these changes. As you read the information below, and learn what it’s like to work a day in the life of these roles, consider which career path is best for you. Then you can take the next step and contact campus and online programs that can help you start your educational and career journey.
As you can imagine, it can take a great deal of energy and love for being around young children to succeed as a preschool teacher. Children at this age are full of wonder, excitement, anxiety, and curiosity about the new world around them. Although there are many types of preschools with different teaching methods, you will find that most environments depend on some form of structure to each day to keep children balanced and reduce anxiety.
When you are just starting your day in this role, things can be hectic. Remember, you are dealing with around 20-30 children, sometimes more, being dropped off around similar times, accompanied by their parents who may have instructions or information they need to share with you that can impact your day. You may have to remember that one child needs medication around noon, another child has a food allergy, while another child may be on the autism spectrum and require their own unique approach to behavior assessment and modification.
In this role, communication is a must if you want to inspire intellectual curiosity. That’s why you may find yourself teaching from less of a “this is how it is” perspective, and instead ask open-ended questions that inspire them to create their own logic and come to their own conclusions, no matter where their minds lead.
Although your facility will have its own schedule, you can expect to conduct group work and individual work that sparks development in basic skills, including literacy. This may be limited to sounds, shapes, colors, at first, but as children reach 4-5, literacy skills will be worked on. You may be reading to the entire group one minute, and then conducting one-on-one reading practice the next.
Throughout your day you will have to remember to observe behavior constantly. This aspect of your role will never cease. Whether you are watching the children read, do activities, have lunch, or play at recess, observation is the driving force behind your assessment and modification practices to improve student performance.
Because children tend to have wild imaginations and are just seeing so much of the world for the first time, it is imperative that you bring your own sense of humor and try to relax in this role. Children at the preschool level can be highly sensitive to criticism and feel shame over things you may consider small or minor.
At the end of each day, you should take time to reflect on your experiences with the children you teach. You want to be sure you don’t become rigid in your role, and you will need to adapt your learning style the more you learn about your students. And just remember, there is no such thing as a ‘normal’ day when you are working as a preschool teacher. At this time in their lives, students are developing their immune systems, and you will find yourself trying to combat the spread of cold, flu, lice and other common health concerns that can quickly spread throughout these environments.
Being a kindergarten teacher is an interesting profession because you are helping students adapt to the elementary school level, which can be very exciting and nerve-wrecking at the same time. In your role, you can haven an opportunity to help students bridge the transition to feeling like ‘a big kid’ successfully.
Your day will most likely begin before the students even set foot in your classroom. This is when you will have a rare moment of quiet time in your day to prepare that day’s lesson and analyze the previous day’s outcome. You may make notes to help you remember things you learn about specific children that relate to their learning style, which can help you be more effective going forward. Because children in student populations come from all socioeconomic backgrounds, many public schools offer a breakfast or snack time around mid-morning, since food can have such an effect on mood and nutrition is linked to brain function.
Group work is just as important as individual work at this age. You will find yourself developing group activities that teach the kids how to work together with as little conflict and as high performance as possible. Reading skills are essential to start developing at the kindergarten level. While teaching the kids to read you will work in groups and one-on-one. Some of your kids will have come from pre-K environments that have already given them advanced literacy skills for their age. Other children will have come from a home or daycare setting that did not focus on reading skills. This is just one of many examples of how you will have to be ready to adapt throughout your day to help children with all levels or capabilities become successful in the various subject you teach.
Teachers at all grade levels often have to take turns monitoring recess and lunch breaks. If you are not responsible for that, you can take this time to look over assignments, catch your breath and enjoy your own lunch, or prepare for the rest of the day’s activities.
Some kindergarten schedules are only a half day, while others go a full day. In full day programs, students generally have a nap time after lunch, which can give you additional time to catch up on lesson planning. The rest of the day will be structured according to your school’s curriculum design. The day will end with you checking homework, calling parents, or interacting with your peers and administrators to report progress.
When you work as a 1st through 3rd grade teacher, you will be responsible for opening up a world of new subject matter for your students. These are the years when they will start exploring areas, such as science, social studies. If you plan on this type of career path, you may want to take subject specific teaching courses in your early childhood education program.
Your day will most likely be broken up into the core areas: math, reading, writing, and history. Other classes, such as art, physical education, and computer technology may be offered on specific days. With the increasing role of technology in young students’ lives, learning how to use computers is becoming a part of most elementary curriculum, even starting as early as kindergarten.
In the afternoon, students typically have their “elective” type classes, which should give you an opportunity to take a break and catch up on your lesson plans. As your day winds down, you will start preparing students for the next day’s lessons, and organizing bulletins, notices and other communication that may need to go home with students.
Working at these grade levels can also give opportunities for teachers to work with special needs children and those who display exceptional learning ability. If you want to work in specialized areas, you may need additional certification. And if you are a master’s degree holder, your day may include assessing the progress and performance of other teachers and their students, then communicating your findings to administrators to help shape changes for improved performance.
Many students of early childhood education start out as daycare workers while they complete their degree and certifications to work in other pre-K or elementary school settings. Some begin in this role in hopes of one day opening their own daycare facility or managing an existing one.
The type of work you perform may overlap between types of facilities, but some daycare difference are sure to be found if you compare enough places. Some are learning based and others are simply childcare focused and play structured. Regardless of the type of school, you will most likely be responsible for helping keep children on schedule.
In your role, you will have to be patient, empathetic towards children of all needs and abilities, and able to multitask many things at once. You may be responsible for giving medicine or inspiring clean-up after an activity one minute, and monitoring lunch or conducting reading activities. Your day will be spend on your toes, with the exception of nap-time, which generally occurs after lunch.
Art and music may be a part of the program for children who are 2-5. Although you may not give very much structure or apply a grading system to these activities, they will help children learn to express their personalities in unique ways, and learn that school can be fun. If you are caring for newborns and 1-2 year olds, you might be spending a lot of your day changing diapers, holding napping children, and bottle-feeding.
Another aspect of working in daycare is making sure you communicate effectively with parents. You will need to keep a notebook of all your day’s notable events. With so many children you have to look after, you will want to be sure you keep good track of everything you need to talk about. You will also need to know how to spot signs of sickness and behavior that needs attention and redirection. As a daycare worker, this can be the boot camp you need to start working with all kinds of children in a variety of grade levels. If you speak a second language, your skills may be even more attractive to the growing number of daycares that include children from diverse backgrounds. The same principle applies if you have skills in the area of special education, such as autism or physical disabilities.
If you want to know more about what to expect in these roles, or others you may acquire in the field of early childhood education, the best thing you can do now is inquire about several programs to compare their curriculum and professional outcomes. There are online early childhood education degrees and campus programs that offer affordable, accredited programs that can prepare you for licensure and the skills you need to be successful.
While in school, or after graduation, you’ll want to do things with your time that will give you the experience that you’ll need to successfully engage kindergarten kids in learning. The kind of experience that will help you later on includes volunteering your time as a teacher’s assistant at any daycare or school, as well as becoming a substitute teacher. If you’re lucky enough to substitute for kindergartners, this experience is even better yet.
There are a variety of career options in the area of early childhood development just as there are various education training programs. Associate and bachelor degree programs are good for entry-level positions; master degree programs are good for supervisory, administrative or managerial positions, and doctoral degrees are for teaching in colleges or working in research. As you can see, the difference in the degree levels is not just in the time it takes to complete the program but also the types of careers possible.
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