Early Education Bachelor’s Degree

Many who think of early education equate it with preschool programs. While preschool is a vital part of a child’s early education, the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) considers the title to include children through age eight, which includes kindergarten and the first few years of elementary school. This is an important point as the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) categorizes the two separately, resulting in a wide variation of median wages, experience needed, and education required between the two groups of educators.

For preschool teachers, the typical entry-level of education was an associate’s degree although no degree is required by many preschool institutions. Kindergarten and elementary school teachers generally worked as an intern or resident before being hired, and had at least a Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education (BAECE).

When you choose a school for your degree in ECE it’s important that you verify it has been accredited by NAEYC, as this association sets the standards in what children should be taught in the early years, how to assess their development and learning, and which programs are effectively working.

Early Childhood Education Bachelor’s Program Classes

While classes in an ECE program may vary by school, the following are typical examples of classes you’ll be taking:

  • Early Childhood Development: The social, physical, cognitive and emotional developments from birth through age eight are addressed, enabling you to understand and recognize developmental issues, milestones and teaching strategies. You’ll learn safety and health concerns, issues in early childhood care, behavior expectations and guidance techniques among other relevant topics.
  • Childhood and Adolescent Psychology: Explore all aspects of human development from conception through adolescence including physical, emotional, cognitive, moral, social and personality development. You’ll gain an understanding of research methods and developmental theories as well as the cultural and contextual factors which impact the development and growth of children.
  • Early Childhood Administration: Gain a basic understanding of program development, accountability, evaluation, and continuing improvement for early childhood schools. You’ll learn strategies for appropriate practices to ensure program compliance and quality to prepare for a role in the childhood care administrative field.
  • Understanding Mental Health in the Early Years: Learn the impact mental health issues can have on a child and how environment, family structure and economics can effect a child’s social and emotional development. You’ll also focus on brain development, attachment theory, and executive function in regards to lifelong learning.
  • Positive Behavior Guidance for Young Children: Investigate and understand strategies for creating a positive learning environment in the classroom. Learn how to promote positive interactions, support a child’s self-regulation and integrate positive behavior guidance in your classroom.
  • Supporting Exceptional Children and Families: Study the contemporary issues and history of special education legislation for the inclusive classroom and train to support special needs children. Understand cultural influences and study how to locate resources for families of exceptional children in order to promote a positive learning experience.
  • Introduction to Curriculum & Instruction for the Early Childhood Classroom: Understand the relationship between instruction, assessment and curriculum as it pertains to early childhood classroom settings. You’ll also learn strategies and methods for integrating instruction and assessment and analyze the effectiveness of different curriculum practices.
  • Social & Emotional Growth of Infants & Toddlers: Develop a solid understanding of teaching healthy emotional, social, and behavior traits in young children. The ability to establish positive relationships as well as the management of emotions will be explored in depth in order to recognize and promote these traits for infants and toddlers in a preschool setting.
  • Culture, Family & Childcare: Gain a solid understanding of how culture can effect early childhood. Discover how to implement elements such as behavior management and discipline and understand how a family’s culture context can be integrated into an effective childcare environment.
  • Cognitive Development of Infants & Young Children: Learn theories related to cognitive development as well as a basic understanding of how the brain develops. Use that foundational knowledge to analyze the impact of genetics and environment on a child’s cognitive and function in regards to education and societal dynamics.

Skills You’ll Learn in a Bachelor’s Program

Your BAECE isn’t just about learning the theories and practices of teaching young children; you’ll also gain a wide set of valuable skills to help you enter the field with confidence and authority. Here are some examples of the skill set you’ll gain as you earn your degree:

  • Interpersonal skills: ECE isn’t just about talking to toddlers; you’ll also learn how to develop positive relationships with parents, colleagues, and other professionals you interact with in the course of your job.
  • Creative skills: Young children have short attention spans so you’ll need creativity in planning your lessons. You’ll also learn how to adapt your lessons to various learning styles to keep your students engaged and attentive.
  • Organizational skills: There’s a lot of paperwork involved in teaching and you’ll learn how to organize effectively to keep accurate records, plan lessons, and track each student’s progress as you go.
  • Communication skills: Besides needing to communicate with youngsters you’ll learn good writing and speaking skills in order to convey information to parents and colleagues.
  • Speaking skills: Learning to speak is an art in itself; you’ll learn how to get your points across to all age groups from toddlers to grandparents. You’ll learn to convey your thoughts effectively communicate so others understand your words completely.
  • Active listening: Learning to listen effectively will be one of the most important skills you gain from your degree. You’ll discover how to understand the points being made, when it’s appropriate to ask questions, and give the speaker your full attention.

Besides skills you’ll learn to integrate other qualities that will help you not just with your profession but in all areas of life. As an early childhood education student you’ll gain:

  • Patience
  • Social perceptiveness
  • Physical stamina
  • Critical thinking
  • Decision making

Early Childhood Education Careers

While you may envision working at or running a preschool as your career goal in early education there are a wider variety of career options and workplaces available than you might expect. Careers and workplaces include:

  • Preschool teacher
  • Preschool administrator
  • Kindergarten and elementary school teacher
  • Daycare directors
  • Special education teachers
  • Religious or charitable organizations
  • Private family employment
  • Social service organizations

Keep in mind that you can enter into the workforce in a lower position and continue your education; as stated earlier most preschools and daycare centers only require an associate’s degree for employment. You may be able to work your way into better paying positions once you earn your bachelor’s degree and you may decide to continue your education past this program. A master’s degree in early childhood education will qualify you for many more positions within the field as it shows prospective employers you have the dedication and education to become the best in your chosen profession.

Online Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education: What to Expect

An online degree program brings the world of education into your home. Keep in mind that working towards your degree is just that: Work. It’s a good idea to think of it as a part-time or second job; once you choose a school you can talk to an advisor and get a pretty accurate idea of how many hours you’ll need to set aside for each class you are taking. While the specifics of your program will vary depending on the school you choose, here are some basics you can expect from online learning.

Unlike brick and mortar schools online classes give you flexibility. You’ll most likely have multiple start dates to choose from and you’ll be able to study around your current work, home, and other commitments.

  • Live interactive sessions with faculty and peers
  • Real-world project learning
  • Online simulations for learning technical skills
  • Instructor contact via email or online
  • Learning management system to coordinate your classwork and schedule
  • The same academic rigor and credentials as on-campus courses

The best way to determine how to begin your online degree is to speak with an advisor from the school or schools of your choice. Whether you talk in person or online an advisor can answer questions that are specific to your personal situation so you’ll know exactly what to expect before you commit to your first class. You’re the only person who can decide whether you have the discipline and dedication it will take to complete a degree online, but an advisor can help you overcome obstacles and give you insight on ways to achieve that discipline.

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