Early Childhood EducationEarly Childhood Education
Like kids? As obvious a question as it sounds, it’s a serious one. The ideal early childhood education major will have, aside from good grades and possibly some experience babysitting or volunteering with little ones, a genuine love for and devotion to children. He or she will be a person drawn to this field not solely for the summers off! Stretching far beyond supervising distribution of cookies and milk or coloring within the lines, you’ll play a vital role in the development of children both individually and as a class. As an early childhood education major, you’ll learn how to be an effective teacher of kids in pre-school, kindergarten, and first through third grades. These young learners have needs markedly different from kids even a year or two older. You’ll learn how children develop and what their educational needs are at each stage of their lives. You’ll study children’s literature (remember Harold and the Purple Crayon?), how to teach mathematics and reading, and the importance—and significance—of play. You’ll study the history of early childhood education so you can recognize the unique challenges that have faced teachers in this field and how they’ve been overcome successfully. Most importantly, you’ll study children—how they operate, what they think, and how you can ensure that they reach their full potential. Being a student teacher is an important part of your college experience—this is how you’ll get substantial hands-on experience in front of the classroom. As a student teacher, you’ll work with a supervising teacher to build a curriculum, organize the classroom, and of course, teach. You’ll also take part in classroom observation or other less intensive hands-on experiences. Education is by nature interdisciplinary, and you’ll be studying elements of psychology, sociology, science, and various fields in the humanities. Different states have different certification requirements, so be sure to do your research when you’re applying to education programs—and when it’s time to look for a teaching job too.
High school allows you to get a strong foundation in the many fields you’ll touch on in your early childhood education studies. Fill your schedule with a variety of challenging courses in math, science, English, history, and languages. Take courses that will improve your reading, writing, and communication skills. And since computers are becoming a more prominent part of the classroom, a computer class or two might be valuable. Put your heart into it before college even starts by volunteering with a community organization that works with young children.