Children need guidance and education from influences outside of their parents, and that’s where early childhood educators can make an impact. Finding information on early childhood education careers and early childhood education degrees may lead you on a confusing and tedious journey. So we’ve compiled some frequently asked questions about early childhood education to help you start on your path to pursuing a career in the field you’re interested in.
Q: What are early childhood education colleges?
A: Early childhood education colleges are schools that have specialized programs for students who are looking to earn their degree in disciplines related to early childhood education. These programs typically focus on early childhood development so that students understand how to communicate and instruct children who have not fully developed their social or comprehension skills.
Early childhood education programs typically require students to complete fieldwork as a teaching assistant in a classroom with children in order to gain experience. If you are interested in earning your early childhood education degree, be sure that you can meet the particular program’s requirements and will be able to rearrange your schedule to accommodate in-classroom training.
Q: How do I become an early childhood educator?
A: Depending on what type of early childhood educator career you want to pursue, the amount of time and education you will need may vary. Some jobs, like childcare workers, may not require a college degree[i], while others, such as speech language pathologist, typically require a Master’s degree[ii].
Q: What is the importance of early childhood education?
A: The importance of early childhood education is far-reaching because educators can help shape a child’s attitude about learning and their educational path going forward. Studies show that high-quality early childhood education can lower rates of special education placements and grade retention (students who have to repeat grades), as well as increasing high school graduation rates.[iii]
Providing high-quality early childhood education may possibly translate to lower costs in future social aid, so U.S. government makes an effort to enact education policies that make high-quality early childhood education available to all Americans, through programs and funding such as the Preschool for All program and Preschool Development Grants.
Q: What are the potential benefits of early childhood education?
A: According to the U.S. Department of Education, there is a great need for high-quality early childhood education in America. Fewer than three out of ten 4-year-olds are enrolled in high-quality early learning programs.[iv] This widespread need could be beneficial to those who earn an early childhood education degree since there may be a large increase in job growth if more early childhood education programs are funded and put into practice around the country.[iv] Here are examples of the number of jobs and job outlook in the field of early childhood education in America:
Preschool Teachers: 438,200 jobs as of 2012, with a 17% job growth projected through 2022.[v]
Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers: 1,519,700 jobs as of 2012, with a 12% job growth projected through 2022.[vi]
Childcare Workers: 1,312,700 jobs as of 2012, with a 14% job growth through 2022.[i]
Q: What are some common issues in early childhood education?
A: The issues in early childhood education as a discipline stem mainly from two areas: politics and research. Because government funds are allocated for education, policy involving how and where that money is spent is hotly debated. Issues like standardized tests and teacher evaluations are some current topics that spark debate among teachers, administrators, taxpayers, and policymakers.
Another issue in early childhood education is that due to the fact that child psychology and early childhood development are topics on which researchers are continuously performing studies, methods of teaching the classroom change over time to reflect their findings of best practices. It could help for educators to stay informed with the developments in the field by joining early childhood education associations.
Q: What are some kindergarten and elementary school teacher requirements?
A: Although they typically do not work during the summer, kindergarten and elementary school teachers often use weekends and nights to plan lessons and grade papers and projects. Here are some other kindergarten and elementary teacher requirements[vii]:
All states require a Bachelor’s degree in elementary school education
Some states require students to major in a specific content area, such as science or math
Child psychology classes are often required as part of an education major
Some fieldwork / on-the-job experience with student teaching (varies by state)
Public schools often require a state-issued certification or license
Private school requirements vary by institution, but typically require a Bachelor’s degree
Some states require teachers to earn a master’s degree after earning their teaching certification
Q: What is accreditation? Should I pursue an early childhood education degree at an accredited school?
A: One of the most important points to consider when looking to earn your early childhood education degree is that the school you choose is accredited.
The purpose of accreditation is to establish credibility and quality in the type of education a school is providing. Standards are created by either regional or national accrediting agencies and then, in order to be accredited, schools or institutions ask to be evaluated by those established standards.