Early childhood educators are among some of the most important professionals out there today. Why? Because they are guiding the minds of our next generations – our children. Early childhood educators work with children under the age of eight, teaching them at their most rapid stage of growth and development, and shaping their minds, behaviors, and skill sets to become the best they can be.
If you have a passion for working with young children and a desire to be an influence in their lives, a career in early childhood education may be for you. The field is budding with job opportunities in all types of settings, including preschools, kindergarten classrooms, and even government organizations (such as the Department of Children and Families). And depending on your career goals, there are also many types of early childhood education degrees to choose from – such as programs at the associate, bachelor’s and master’s level.
How can you know which early childhood education degree is right for you? Your choice will rely heavily on your career goals, as well as your current schedule and ability to commit to college. Researching your options for schools in the area, as well as the different early childhood education programs out there, is a great place to begin your path in this rewarding field.
Associate Degree in Early Childhood Education
An associate degree in Early Childhood Education can provide you with the foundational skills, knowledge, and experience needed to work with young children, from birth to eight years old. Associate degree programs, such as the one at Goodwin College, integrate courses in an array of important topics, such as safety and nutrition of young children, creativity in young children, social and emotional development of children, early language and literacy, basic math and science, and more. These classes will prepare you to work effectively with children and their families, using age-appropriate practice, observation, and communication.
A great early childhood education degree program will also incorporate practical teaching experiences into their curriculum. At Goodwin College, students must complete two capstone courses in Student Teaching before earning their associate degree.
After earning an associate degree in Early Childhood Education, you can fulfill rewarding careers such as:
- Family Resource Worker
- Infant and Toddler Teacher
- School Readiness Teacher
Many people interested in the field of early childhood education will opt for an associate degree program, due to its shorter timespan and level of flexibility.
A Bachelor’s Level Degree Program
A bachelor’s degree is another core option for those interested in an early childhood education career. Typically, bachelor’s degree programs take about four years to complete. A bachelor’s degree is also a common entry-level requirement in the field – for example, all states (including Connecticut) require public kindergarten and elementary school teachers to have at least a bachelor’s degree. Private schools often have similar requirements.
There are several different bachelor’s degree programs available in the realm of early childhood ed. Some schools offer a Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education, while some (such as Goodwin College) offer a Bachelor’s degree in Child Study. While curriculums will vary school to school, the subjects covered in your courses will be of the same nature: You will discuss topics such as the psychology of children, advanced childhood development, family, school, and community relationships, in addition to taking education courses.
The Child Study degree at Goodwin College is very focused on nurturing young children’s social, physical, emotional, language and cognitive skills. The program is grounded in developmental theory and emerging educational trends and programs in early childhood education. In fact, students of our bachelor’s degree program get the opportunity to learn (and teach) hands-on in our state-of-the-art, Reggio Emilia elementary school nearby campus.
Hands-on learning experiences are essential for any bachelor’s degree program, as that is what allows you to put your knowledge into practice. It also connects you with potential career opportunities. After Goodwin College, Child Study graduates typically go on to pursue career as:
- Child Care Teachers
- Child Care Administrators
- Child Advocates
- Curriculum Coordinators
- Early Childhood Directors
Getting a Graduate Degree in Early Childhood Education
Many schools offer early childhood education degrees at the master’s and doctorate levels. These degrees can be only be pursued after completing your bachelor’s degree. This degree path is typically followed by those looking to become an Early Childhood Education Director, or earn a similar management role. That is why master’s degree programs typically cover the more administrative side of ECE, with courses such as organizational design and leadership, laws and ethics in education, program measurement and evaluation, and more.
An early childhood education degree is not only the foundation to your long-time career, it also lays the building blocks for the children you will soon teach – with an ECE degree in hand, and with that comprehensive knowledge of children and early development under your belt, you will be well-prepared to teach and inspire the minds of tomorrow.
If you are interested in learning more about the early childhood degree programs at Goodwin College in Connecticut, please do not hesitate to reach out. Call 800-899-3282 for more information, or visit us online at www.goodwin.edu/majors/early-childhood-education.