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Early Childhood Education and Teaching

Program Description

Just the Facts

Early Childhood Education and Teaching. A program that prepares individuals to teach students ranging in age from infancy through eight years (grade three), depending on the school system or state regulations. Includes preparation to teach all relevant subject matter.

This program is available in these options:

  • Certificate / Diploma
  • Associate degree
  • Bachelor's degree
  • Graduate Certificate
  • Master's degree
  • Doctoral degree

High School Courses

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Additional Information

Training students to make a difference in the lives of children is the main goal of an early childhood education program.

Some programs offer associate's degrees. Many also offer bachelor's and master's degrees. Doctoral degrees are available, too.

Note that different programs may lead to different careers. If you want to teach in a kindergarten or elementary school, you'll likely need a bachelor's degree. If you want to work in a preschool, day-care or other child-care position, a two-year program may be enough.

Many two-year programs allow you to go on to a bachelor's degree.

Entrance requirements vary. For some programs, you just need a high school diploma. For other programs, you need a high school diploma plus marks that are high enough to get you into university. For postgraduate programs, you need an undergraduate degree.

Programs of this kind often require references and an application essay. You can also expect to undergo a security screening before enrolling.

Once you're in a program, expect to take a range of courses. The field draws from many academic disciplines -- psychology, sociology, anthropology, politics and law.

You will study program planning, curriculum development, and health and nutrition issues.

You will also get practical experience. You may spend several weeks working with children under the supervision of professionals through placements.

After you graduate, consider getting a professional certificate. In many parts of the U.S., it is mandatory. Forty-six states plus the District of Columbia require a child development associate (CDA) credential.

In high school, take courses in subjects like psychology, sociology and anthropology if you can. Some high schools also offer courses in family studies and parenting.

"Anything related to the social sciences would certainly be helpful," says Renee Ouellette. She is the coordinator of an early childhood education program.

Volunteer experience with kids is also important. There are lots of opportunities with children's camps, religious groups, community groups and organizations like the Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts.

Babysitting is also a good way to get some experience along with some extra cash.

A first aid certificate, a second language, and the ability to play one or two instruments may also be helpful.


Occupational Outlook Handbook
For more information related to this field of study, see: Child-Care Workers

Early Childhood News
Information about early childhood teaching

National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care
An online handbook for child-care providers


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