May 27, 2022

What is Early Childhood Education and What Can You Do With a Degree in it?

By B&SC Blog Team

What is Early Childhood Education and What Can You Do With a Degree in it?

For as long as you can remember, you’ve been a natural around children. Perhaps you grew up with a younger sibling or cousins that you always took care of. Now you’re the go-to babysitter for some of your friends’ parents.

While many students your age regard babysitting as a way to make pocket money, you don’t feel the same. When you think of your career someday, you envision working with children every day.

Early childhood education programs give aspiring early childhood teachers the training they need to succeed in their work with children. From exploring child development to examining educational philosophy, these programs provide the right framework and foundation for lifelong learning. Here is a closer look at what early childhood education is and how it can impact your career choices.

What is Early Childhood Education?

Early childhood education, sometimes abbreviated to ECE, is centered around the education of children no older than eight years old. This includes informal and formal education. These years are times when children go through a tremendous amount of development and brain growth, and skilled educators can partner with parents to help them with their children’s educational needs along the way.

The schooling a child receives in this early part of their lives will make lasting impacts on them throughout childhood, adolescence, and beyond. Thus, your degree in early childhood education lets you enter a career where you’re positively affecting children’s lives every single day.

The National Education Association says any quality childhood education program must have several components, including:

  1. Reduced class sizes so all children can get individualized attention
  2. Well-paid teachers that enjoy their work
  3. Identifying concerns so students can make the most of their learning experience
  4. An assessment of family needs, nutrition, and health of the child
  5. A full curriculum that covers a variety of areas

Why is early childhood education important?

The years from birth through the third grade are the years when children learn how to interact with other children, express emotions in a healthy way, and perform some fundamental educational tasks, like reading and basic math. In fact, researchers at Harvard found that every second, a young child’s brain forms more than one million new neural connections. These connections are responsible for the architecture of the brain and its ability to learn as an older child.

From the moment a child is born, they start learning. Early childhood is a time when the brain grows and develops tremendously, which makes educators a vital part of a healthy child’s development. Early education helps set the groundwork for success in education and in the workforce.

Educators in this field provide safe, structured places for children to discover their world, play with their peers, and learn. Formal testing and grades are rare, but children are encouraged to use their senses to explore the world around them. They also are able to develop the motor and social skills they need for future educational success within a safe, supportive environment.

What can you do with an early childhood education degree?

A degree in early childhood education can open the door to several rewarding career options. Many people will often work as teachers or aides in preschools and elementary schools, but this is not the only place that people trained in early childhood can find employment. They may also work as nannies, providers in childcare centers, and even school counselors. The careers available to you will depend on your level of education, but here are some popular choices.

Careers with a diploma

A diploma in early childhood care is not a full two-year degree. It often can be completed in a year or less. While it is not a degree, it does open the door to some career options, including:

Childcare Worker

A childcare worker works with kids in a daycare or other childcare setting. They are often not responsible for lesson planning but will do care-oriented tasks, help with classroom management and keep the facility clean and sanitary for the children.

Preschool Teacher Assistant / Aide

A preschool teacher’s aide works alongside a preschool teacher to help the teacher and students achieve educational goals. They may implement lesson plans, assist in classroom management and take care of the physical needs of the children in the preschool so the teacher can focus on the educational needs.

Daycare Assistant Teacher

An assistant teacher has fewer responsibilities than a head classroom teacher but still attends to the educational needs of the students. Actual lesson planning and curriculum selection are outside of this job’s scope, but the assistant teacher may spend time teaching. They will also coordinate snacks and activities to help their students thrive.

Careers with an associate degree

If you have an associate degree in early childhood education, you will have greater opportunities, including potential leadership roles, in the early childhood world. An applied science degree in early childhood education is a two-year degree that adds education training to the child development training offered through a diploma program. This means these professionals are often in the role of educator. Some career options include:

Daycare Center Administrator

A daycare center administrator oversees the daily operations of the daycare. They may interact with children, but they also interact with parents and ensure the business side of the daycare operates correctly. They may be the ultimate decision-makers in the facility.

Preschool Teacher

The additional training of an associate degree qualifies an individual to work as a preschool teacher. Preschool teachers teach early reading and math skills, color identification, social studies, and social/emotional skills in order to prepare students for kindergarten. Preschools are more academic in nature than daycare centers, but they also allow for plenty of time for children to play, as play is vital to the young child’s development.

Toddler Teacher

Toddler teachers work in preschools that accept children age 2 and under. They need to have a thorough understanding of child development to encourage their charges to reach developmental milestones safely. This is where an associate degree in early childhood comes into play.

Further education opens the door to more career options

A diploma and associate degree are often considered the starting point for a career in education. Still, you can go on to get a bachelor’s degree and even a graduate degree in this field. These advanced education degrees can open the door to administrative and counseling positions, among others. The more training and credentials early childhood professionals have, the greater their career outcomes will be due to their greater understanding of the development and needs of the youngest students.

Start your early childhood education journey today

Working with young children and seeing the light bulb go off as they discover a new concept or learn a new skill is a gratifying career. If you are passionate about young children and want to make a difference in their lives, a career in early childhood education is a good fit. It starts with the right training.

Bryant & Stratton College offers several high quality choices for early childhood education diplomas and degrees that can lead to early childhood certification. Reach out to our admissions team to discuss your options today or to start your early childhood education journey at Bryant & Stratton College.

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