Early Childhood Education (ECE) involves nurturing young children. Schools across the county offer programs that lead to associates and bachelor’s degrees, certificates that prepare students to teach or work in early childhood settings. Depending on the program that a student chooses, certain prerequisites must be met, such as the completion of certain courses and background checks. It is possible to earn an early childhood education degree either in class or online.
Here is an overview of early Child Care Education Certification and Certificate Programs
Early Childhood Education Certificate
An early childhood education certificate typically takes around one year to complete, and these certificate programs will prepare students with the ability to assist in Child Care settings for children from ages 0 to eight years old. Students through the certificate program will gain an understanding of child development and child growth, in addition to learning the best way to foster a child’s physical, emotional, and social development.
Before entering an early childhood education program, students might need to go through interview or submit materials.
Students after completing the certificate program usually will seek state-level Early Childhood Education certification. Course topics for ECE certificate programs may include:
- Bilingual learning techniques
- Education environments
- Numeracy development
- Mental health in young children
Associate of Science in Early Childhood Education
An associate’s degree in early childhood education will prepare graduates for careers in early childhood education. Programs in early childhood education tend to focus on the physical, phycological, and social dynamics that influence development in children. Students will be able to recognize indicators of normal child development, develop interpersonal relationships with children and their families, and create nurturing learning environments. Graduates with an associate’s degree in early childhood education can pursue national certification.
Before starting the program, it is recommended that students complete a child development course as well as English courses. Most schools will require students to complete an interview with an advisor and a placement test prior to entering the program. The coursework in an Associate’s degree early childhood education program is focused on direct education and instruction for young children.
Courses topics may include:
- Child guidance
- Child growth and development
- English composition
- Infant & toddler care
- Child guidance
- Child growth and development
Bachelor Of Science in Education and Early Childhood Education
Bachelor’s degree programs prepare students to meet teacher education licensure. Students in this type of program learn phases of child development and interventions to improve child performance. Speech and language development and delays are also covered. Students gain ample classroom and field experience and are prepared for teacher certification in pre-kindergarten and early elementary school settings.
General education courses such as English, math, and speech classes are common prerequisites for entering early childhood education bachelor’s degree programs. The curriculum of a bachelor’s degree program in ECE stresses child development and classroom teaching, with course topics including:
- Principles in education
- Learning theory
- Instructional technology
- Developmental psychology
- Certifications for Early Childhood Education
States set their own requirements for early childhood education certification. All states also recognize national certification in ECE. The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards offers a general certification in early childhood education and several subject-specific ECE certifications in areas like music, physical education, art, reading, and English for non-native speakers.
Popular Career Options
Certificate holders in early childhood education typically work as classroom assistants, under the supervision of someone with an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. With ECE certification, individuals may also work in positions that don’t directly involve teaching, such as supervising group play at a daycare facility.
An associate’s degree in early childhood education opens up more career options in instruction for preschool and early elementary-age children, including:
- Childcare director
- Preschool teacher
- Teacher’s aide
- Family or group daycare operator
A bachelor’s degree is required for lead ECE classroom teachers from kindergarten through third grade and sometimes required for pre-K positions in a school setting (a bachelor’s in elementary education can also lead to certification to work at these grade levels). A bachelor’s in early childhood education also qualifies graduates for certain administrative and other non-instructional positions. Possible careers include:
- Classroom teacher
- Educational coordinator
- Educational administrator
- Child Care worker
- Continuing Education
An ECE certificate program prepares students for degrees in education and child development. Upon completion of an early childhood education certificate, students are typically able to apply credits toward either an associate or a bachelor’s degree.
Associate’s degree programs also prepare students for transfer to a 4-year program in early childhood education or child development. Credits earned might transfer to a bachelor’s degree program.
It is possible to pursue both master’s and doctoral degrees in early childhood education. Graduate programs are designed for ECE teachers seeking to advance their careers by improving their skills and increasing their knowledge base.
By first obtaining a certificate or certification in early childhood education, students gain the needed foundation to seek out employment aiding teachers and the administration of Child Care centers. The basic certification also lays the groundwork for further training in the fields of education and child. development.