Bachelor's Degree in Early Childhood Education: Program Information
Bachelor's degree programs in early childhood education train students for professional careers in day care centers, elementary schools, recreational centers and national Head Start educational programs. Find out about the curriculum, certification requirements and job statistics.
Bachelor's degree programs in early childhood education prepare students to become professional teachers and mentors to children from birth through third grade. Students receive a broad background in classroom-based theories and principles in general education, as well as child development, child psychology and nutrition. They develop primary knowledge of curriculum development and teaching methodologies.
Prospective teachers learn to identify and instruct students with special needs. They are trained to promote positive relationships with families and students in diverse communities. Undergraduates gain practical experience working with and observing infants, toddlers and pre-schoolers through on-site labs. The program culminates in a supervised internship and capstone project.
Admission prerequisites to an early childhood education bachelor's degree program depend on the applicant's educational background. Freshman applicants must hold a high school diploma or its equivalent, as well as submit the required college admission test scores.
Prospective teaching students might also be expected to meet the admission requirements of a college or university's teaching education program, in addition to general admission requirements. College students who wish to transfer into an early childhood education program might be required to have a minimum cumulative GPA or meet other admission criteria.
The curriculum in an early childhood education program covers a broad spectrum of general education courses, including English, math, social studies and humanities. Classes also cover pedagogical theories and techniques, and health and family topics, along with the following:
- Child development
- Social and emotional growth
- Children, families and societies
- Language and literacy development
- Toddler and infant learning
- Exploring teaching and learning
- Cultural foundations
- Classroom management
- Early childhood education assessment
Popular Career Options
Bachelor's degree holders have the practical knowledge and skills to work with young children in a variety of Head Start programs, day care centers and elementary schools. Typical professional careers for early childhood educators may include:
- Head Start teacher
- Pre-school teacher
- Day care center specialist
- Kindergarten teacher
- Educational assistant
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that kindergarten and elementary school teaching positions were predicted to increase 17% from 2010-2020. The job outlook was best in the South and West, as well as in rural and urban areas. In May 2012, kindergarten teachers made a mean yearly salary of $53,030, while elementary school teachers earned $56,130, according to the BLS.
Professional Certification and Continuing Education Information
Certification requirements for pre-kindergarten and Head Start teachers vary across states. Kindergarten and elementary teachers in public schools are required to pass a state certification exam. To be eligible for the exam, teachers must hold a bachelor's degree and have relevant teaching experience. Graduates may also choose to advance their careers through the expertise and practical knowledge found in a master's degree program.
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