Teaching the Little Ones to Learn: Early Childhood Education

People who are drawn to careers in early childhood education enjoy working with small children and helping them start on a path to loving to learn new things. This job requires patience and a sense of humor, but your days will be filled with rewarding moments as you celebrate each new achievement with the children you teach.

You may choose to work in pre-kindergarten, kindergarten or elementary schools; depending on the age group you most enjoy working with. The topics you teach will depend on the class level. You may be helping pre-K children become accustomed to the structure and social challenges of a classroom environment, or you may be helping elementary students master reading skills. The choice is yours when you earn a degree in early childhood education.

Online Early Childhood Education Degree Information

A degree in early childhood education focuses on the educational development of young children, which includes both social and academic disciplines. Early childhood education educators have a crucial job, as these are the formative years of a person's existence. This time is considered by many to be the most critical years for learning. Those with early childhood education degrees take up this responsibility, using instructive play and other researched techniques to move students forward at the optimal pace of development. Earning an early childhood education degree will prepare the graduate for the rigors of teaching with levels ranging from an Associate of Applied Science in early childhood education to a Masters in early childhood education.

Online Curriculum

You will take courses such as early childhood curriculum and methods, interacting with parents and the community, and studies in the child, family and society interactions, in addition to traditional education courses such as teaching methods and lesson planning. You will also be required to complete a student teacher fieldwork assignment to earn a bachelor’s degree.

Earning An Online Degree

Many accredited colleges and universities offer online degree programs in early childhood education. An Associate’s degree program usually requires two years to complete, while a bachelor’s degree will require four years. Although you may qualify for a position at a day care center or a private pre-school, you will need at least a bachelor’s degree to be hired in most public school systems.

One way to make the demands of pursuing an early childhood education degree online a little easier is by taking classes online. An early childhood education degree from an accredited online university can carry as much weight as one from a traditional university. While a degree of this nature may require some fieldwork, most requirements can be completed according to the timeframe of the student.

Bachelor’s

A Bachelor’s degree is the minimum credential for teaching in most public elementary school systems and for certification in most states. While working toward your bachelor’s degree, you will take courses such as growth and development of children, developmentally appropriate practices, language development and literacy, and the role of the early childhood educator. It will take you about four years to complete all the requirements for a bachelor’s degree, including the required student teaching assignments.

Master’s

Many school systems hire teachers with a bachelor’s degree but expect them to go on to earn a Master’s degree to earn pay raises or to advance their careers. Some communities make earning a Master’s degree in a certain time frame a condition of continued employment, so you should plan to complete this degree to ensure your future career success.

As part of a master’s degree program, you will study best practices for early childhood education, including developing skills in young children. A Master’s degree program can take up to two years to complete, and may require a thesis or independent research project. Many programs can be completed entirely online.

Further Education

There are many PhD programs in early childhood education. These programs will qualify you for positions in school administration and other leadership roles. Many programs can be completed online and they generally include a required thesis. This program will include courses in applied research and develops your mentoring skills so you can help guide others to higher career satisfaction in your role as an education leader.

Coursework

When studying for a degree in early childhood education, you will be required to take courses in childhood development, learning and teaching techniques, using technology in education, lesson planning, curriculum development and working with parents and the community.

You will also be required to participate in student teaching and fieldwork assignments to qualify for state certification for public school employment.

Career Opportunities

This field is growing rapidly due to the increased emphasis on starting a child’s academic program early to ensure future success. There is high demand for kindergarten and pre-school educators with academic credentials. Demand for early childhood teachers is expected to grow at about 25 percent or more to satisfy the demand for high quality educational programs in this age group.

In addition to public school systems, you may also find employment at private schools, parochial schools and day care centers. There are opportunities for people qualified to work in this field nearly everywhere.

You will find a career in early childhood education to be emotionally rewarding and exciting as you call on your creative skills to excite a permanent love of learning in your young students.

Earning Potential

Median salaries in this field are around $38,000 and the highest earners take in nearly $50,000. There are many benefits associated with this career choice, including ample time off and other perks. The highest salaries are in urban areas where private pre-schools command high tuition from parents striving to give their children a head start in life.

Online Early Childhood Education Degree FAQs

How Long Will It Take to Complete an Online Early Childhood Education Degree?

This will depend on a number of factors, including the degree level the student pursues, how much time they can dedicate to classes and how they handle any required fieldwork. Most associate degrees take two years or less online, while bachelor's degrees typically require close to four, and master's degrees two plus however long it takes to finish fieldwork.

What Are the Topics of Study for an Early Childhood Education Degree?

Early childhood education degrees focus on techniques that have been proven to help children learn, as well as how those techniques have developed. A well-rounded program will include the history of early education approaches, as well as the philosophy behind different ideas in early education. Degree students will learn what works with young children and how to put those methods to use in the classroom.

What Can I Do With an Early Childhood Education Degree?

With a bachelor's degree in early childhood education, you will be able to teach pre-school or kindergarten once you are certified to do so. You will also be eligible to go on for a higher degree in which you can do in-depth research and be on the cutting edge of early childhood education. This will put you in a position to teach others how to educate young, developing children.

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