Early Childhood Education Master’s Degree

Many who enter the early childhood education field with a bachelor’s degree continue taking classes in their spare time in order to earn their early childhood education master’s and qualify for higher wages and positions. If you’re ready to begin your master’s program the most important thing to keep in mind is that your school of choice has been accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), which sets the standards for education nationwide. This organization spearheads research in early education and assesses programs for their long-term effectiveness.

Early Childhood Education Courses

The classes you’ll take to earn your early childhood education master’s degree (ECEM) will vary depending on the school you choose. Here are some samples of the type of subjects that will be covered:

  • Current Trends and Issues in Early Childhood Education: Consideration is given to the historical context of the issues explored as well as an examination of the professional and educational implications. The topics covered represent current events and their effect on early education.
  • Understanding and Working with Parents of Young Children: Learn effective communication techniques in a systematic study as well as a focus on strategies for establishing and maintaining relationships with families. Explore techniques to use with parents and guardians. Extra focus is given to socioeconomics, culture, ethnicity and the language used in the home and how these subjects influence the goals parents set with their children.
  • Developmental Assessment of Young Children’s Learning: Learn to document child skill sets and knowledge, interpret the outcome of programs, and relay assessment results to parents and others so they can become active in the child’s development.
  • Advanced Study of Early Childhood Integrated Curriculum: Gives you a comprehensive study of the developmental integrated curriculum for children through third grade. Extra emphasis is placed on the relationship between current research and theory and curricular content in regards to the social, intellectual, physical and emotional development of the child.
  • Instructional Issues in Multicultural Education: You’ll gain an in-depth exploration of concepts and issues facing multicultural education. Special attention is placed on prospects and problems faced by teachers of diverse groups of children and emphasis on accounting for a wide perspective for a variety of learners and their cultures.
  • Independent Study in Elementary Education: You’ll complete readings, research, or special projects that have been tailored to the specific needs of students based on an elementary school learning topic. Some schools allow this class to be applied to an education specialization.
  • Teaching in the Inclusive Classroom: You’ll learn the theory and practice of inclusion as it pertains to the classroom educating all students including those with disabilities. The goals and philosophy of inclusiveness will be addressed as well as using skill development in your strategies for inclusion.
  • Linguistics for Teachers: This class focuses on the principles of linguistics as seen in the classroom with a focus on language variation and language structure. The role of Standard English in society is explored as well as larger issues including bilingual education and the “English Only” movement.

Besides the types of classes listed above you’ll be expected to complete field experience before you earn your degree. Here are two sample class titles of field work:

  • Advanced Supervised Field Experience in Pre-Primary Settings
  • Advanced Supervised Field Experience in Primary Settings

You’ll also have the chance to choose an area of specialization within the field such as special education and concentrate your classes in that area. Available specializations will vary depending on the school you choose.

Skills You’ll Learn in a Master’s Program

Your master’s degree is more than just learning the ins-and-outs of teaching; you’ll also acquire a skill set that will aid you in the classroom. Here are some examples of the skills you’ll gain:

  • Active listening: You’ll learn how to understand the points the speaker is trying to make, how to give them your undivided attention, when it’s appropriate to ask questions, and the importance of not interrupting the speaker before they finish.
  • Speaking effectively: Learn to get your point across no matter what age group you’re speaking to. Early education means you might be speaking to toddlers, parents, and persons from another culture so it’s vital that you communicate clearly.
  • Creativeness: Young children have short attention spans, so you’ll need to be creative in your lesson plans and be able to adjust on short notice. Learning to be creative will also allow you to diversify your curriculum according to the needs of your students.
  • Organization: A big part of teaching is paperwork. By learning core organizational skills you’ll be able to keep accurate records, track the progress of your students and document interactions with parents and colleagues.

Besides specific skills you’ll learn to develop positive attributes that will serve you in all aspects of life. Early childhood educators must have patience, physical stamina, social perceptiveness, decision making ability, and acute critical thinking tools in order to perform their job well.

Where You Can Work with a Master’s Degree

When you earn your master’s in early childhood education, you’ll be qualified to teach in a preschool or elementary setting, but your graduate degree can open more career doors.

  • Daycare Administrator
  • Preschool Administrator
  • Elementary School Administrator
  • Special Education Teacher
  • Child and Family Social Worker
  • Guidance Counselor
  • Early Childhood Education Specialist
  • Grant Writer for Foundations
  • Director of Educational Program, Private School with Preschool Division

Online Master’s Degrees in Early Childhood Education: What to Expect

Many early childhood education teachers begin their career at the bachelor’s degree level and pursue their master’s degree in their spare time. An online degree program gives you greater flexibility than traditional schools because there are no set hours to attend classes. You can work in the evenings, weekends, or whatever suits your lifestyle. You should be aware that you’ll need self-discipline, as you’ll have to set your own schedule and turn your work in on time. If you think of it as a second job you’ll be in the right mind frame for success.

While the particulars will depend on your school of choice, here are some basics you can expect from online learning.

  • Real-world project learning
  • Flexibility in starting dates
  • No set attendance times
  • Interactive sessions with peers and faculty
  • Learning technical skills through online simulations
  • Reliable contact with faculty via online or email
  • An integrated learning management system to track your classes, assignments, and other details

The first step in determining whether online learning is your best choice to earn your master’s degree in early childhood education is to contact an advisor at the school of your choice. Make a list of questions before you call or email the school and be prepared to make notes on the answers so you have a clear idea of what’s in store and an estimate of the time you’ll need to dedicate to each class. Online learning isn’t for everyone but if you have the dedication and self-discipline to treat it seriously you can soon be on the way to earning your master’s degree.

Is a Master’s Degree Worth the Time?

A master’s degree in early childhood education will typically entail one to two years of full-time classes, and if you can’t go full-time you can break that down by how much time you have to spend. Is it worth it? That’s your decision to make, but a master’s will show your dedication to your profession as well as your expertise in the subject. You’ll also be qualified for a wider variety of jobs and larger salaries. If you’re still not sure, contact the schools you have in mind and add to your knowledge in order to make the best decision for your own particular situation and lifestyle.

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