Teaching Early Childhood Education

Small footprints are outlined in the spilled potting soil by the gardening center, where apron-clad “workers” scoop, measure, and prepare to plant seeds in styrofoam cups. They giggle as they practice writing the letter “p” for “plant” with their fingers in the dirt.

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At another station, a group of young “scientists” measure plant growth using strips of colored paper they glue on a chart, then use flower stickers to count how many it takes to cover each length of paper. Later, the gardening gurus gather to curl up like seeds then wiggle and dance to act out the process of growing into a plant.

Sound like fun? It is fun, because learning time is play time for children. Likewise, teaching early childhood education is all about having fun—with a purpose.

Young children learn best through their senses, so they need lots of hands-on activities that incorporate movement and playtime. For an early childhood teacher, this may mean practicing writing letters in the sand, counting with goldfish crackers, dancing to the alphabet song, creating a play supermarket, or play-acting a story from a book.

Early childhood is one of the most important times in a child’s life. They are experiencing dramatic development happening in their motor skills, as well as developing the use of language, thinking, and social skills. Early childhood educators play an integral role in helping children develop patterns of learning and behavior that will affect the rest of their lives—through creating learning activities that are fun as well as purposeful.

If you like having fun and have a heart for helping young children develop and establish a lifelong love of learning, then becoming an early education teacher might be for you.

What is it like?

An early childhood teacher’s daily life in the classroom is full of high energy fun and structured play, balanced with times of quiet and rest. Young children thrive on stimulation from activities and the exploration of their environment; however, because of this they can also become easily distracted. Teachers must have learning activities well planned in short time spans to keep kids engaged in a purposeful way. All that action can be exhausting, so snack and rest breaks are equally important. This gives children time to recharge and keep their energy levels up for future activities.

Early Childhood Education Matters

Students who complete an early education program are more likely to graduate from high school. That’s according to one study that examined the effect of an early childhood education program and followed the educational paths of students from pre-school through twenty-eight years of age. The research also found that students who had completed the early childhood education program were more apt to graduate on time and attend a four-year college than those children who did not complete the program.

Early childhood teachers can work in a variety of settings, including school or community-based pre-school programs, day care centers, after-school care, or full or half-day kindergarten. A typical day for a teacher would include arriving early to plan lessons, set up and organize materials, and prepare learning activities. When students first arrive, they might have free play time while the teacher welcomes them, as well as helps other children who might have difficulty separating from their parents.

Taking attendance, keeping personal items organized, reviewing calendars, and recognizing birthdays or special events are usually completed early in the day to help children prepare for their future life in school. During the day, hands-on and interactive learning activities typically last from five to 20 minutes, in order to accommodate the short attention spans of young children. These lessons include introducing kids to basic concepts regarding math, science, literacy, writing, social studies, music, and art. Often—as in our opening example—those concepts will overlap, as thus help kids make connections between all the new things they’re learning (rather than compartmentalize them, as adults tend to do).

In addition to being introduced to new learning, the environment and structure of the classroom helps children learn how to “be” at school. Teachers help children acquire important social and behavioral skills by modeling and teaching appropriate interactions in both group and individual activities. Puppets and role-playing activities are fun for children and teach important social lessons they need to be successful in relationships.

While the work is often fun, early education teachers need to exhibit a variety of administrative skills in order to stay on top of their job and keep children focused. Teachers will learn to develop their own skills in team building, supervision, analysis and problem solving, decision-making, communication (speaking and listening), as well as learn stress management and time management.

In short, the work is challenging, fun, creative, and at times tiring. But all of that is made up for by the rewards of teaching. An early childhood teacher has a front row seat to watch children’s eyes light up with discovery, hear their laughter as they play (with purpose), and see their smiles as they master new skills and grow a little more each day.

Can I get a job in early childhood education?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for pre-school teachers by 25 percent between 2010 and 2020. The growth in jobs is largely expected due to the continued focus on the importance of early childhood education, the increasing population of children ages three to five, and the expected declines in student-teacher ratios in the classroom.

Employment growth rates will vary by region, but with a projected increase of 113,600 jobs for pre-school teachers and 281,500 for kindergarten and elementary school teachers by 2020, the outlook for employment for early childhood educators is a positive one.

What salary should I expect?

Salaries for early childhood teachers vary widely depending on education, experience, and geographic location. According to a May 2011 BLS report, the national average salary for preschool teachers was $30,150, with the range in salaries from $17,750 to $48,080.

The national average salary for kindergarten teachers in 2011, on the other hand, was $52,350 with a range in salaries between $32,100 and $76,900. To search for average wages and job distribution in your specific area and level, visit here.

How do I become a teacher in this field?

Just as with salaries, the requirements for becoming an early childhood teacher vary with teaching position and from state to state. Those requirements range from coursework in childhood development to associate’s and bachelor’s degrees.

Certification in early childhood education is required in many states and demonstrates that the teacher has met the specific educational criteria necessary to educate students between the ages of three and eight.

Students studying to become certified as early education teachers can expect to study basic school subjects including math, science, reading, language, and social studies. In addition, teachers need to understand early childhood development and the often rapid changes kids experience in comprehension, motor control, emotions, reasoning, and social interaction.

For information on the teaching requirements for your area, visit www.teaching-certification.com

Schools Offering Accredited Education Programs

Concordia University - Portland offers several fully online 14-month Master of Education (M.Ed.) programs and a fully online Doctorate of Education (Ed.D.) program. You'll learn new strategies and techniques for your classroom while expanding your knowledge and skills as an educator.

Programs:

  • M.Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction: Curriculum & Instruction: Early Childhood Education
  • M.Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction: Environmental Education
  • M.Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction: Career and Technical Education (CTE)
  • And more...

Recognized by the U.S. News and World Report for: Best Online Programs, Bachelor’s 2017, Best Online Programs, Grad Education 2017 and Best Online Programs, Bachelor’s for Veterans 2017

Programs:

  • Early Childhood Education (Master of Education) - Online
  • Technology Education (Master of Education) - Online
  • Early Childhood Education (Certificate Only) - Online
  • And more...

Colorado State University-Global Campus

Colorado State University-Global Campus (CSU-Global) offers career relevant bachelor’s and master’s degree programs for working adults and nontraditional learners.

  • The first and only 100% online, fully accredited public university in the United States
  • No set class times or locations
  • Affordable tuition, guaranteed not to increase as long as you are enrolled
  • Accelerated eight-week terms
  • Classes start every month

Programs:

  • MS - Teaching and Learning

WELCOME TO KAPLAN UNIVERSITY

Online Education That Fits Your Life

For 80 years, we’ve been preparing students for career success. We’ve led the wayso that our students can too.

Globally Renowned Purdue to Acquire Kaplan University

Purdue University, one of the nation's most respected universities, will acquire Kaplan University and create a new, nonprofit, public institution within the Purdue system. Pending regulatory approvals, this exciting transition is expected to take place later this year. This change will be seamless—during the transition, you will still be able to enroll at Kaplan University, earn a high-quality education, and meet your educational and career goals.

Programs:

  • MS in Education - Educational Psychology
  • MS in Education in Instructional Technology - Adult Learning-Organizations
  • MS in Education (for Existing Teachers Grades K-12)
Learning at Full Sail University has always centered around interaction and the exchange of ideas. Our online curriculum fully embraces this philosophy. We have developed our own online learning environment with the aim of being the most people-focused education experience on the web.

Programs:

  • Instructional Design & Technology

Earn your graduate degree online with Northcentral University.  We offer online programs focused on doctoral and master’s degrees in the schools of business and technology management, education, psychology and marriage and family sciences.

Earn your graduate degree online with Northcentral University.  We offer online programs focused on doctoral and master’s degrees in the schools of business and technology management, education, psychology and marriage and family sciences.

The field of technology is rapidly evolving to meet the growing demands of modern society. For those seeking a future in tech, this means maintaining skills, increasingknowledge and quickly adapting to change. For today’s students, however, successwill require dedication, commitment and access to education specifically designedto meet the demands of this dynamic industry.


Programs:

  • Curriculum and Teaching - Master of Education
  • MEd - Reading Education

Abilene Christian University is a national leader in Christian higher education and a place where students, faculty, staff and alumni make a real difference in the world.

Programs:

  • Master of Education in Higher Education

You’re serious about success. With your busy schedule and the desire to move your career forward, you can earn an accredited associate, bachelors or master’s degree at a pace that works for you anywhere, anytime, 24/7.

At AIU, the Serious U, you can get started to get ahead.

Programs:

  • Master's (M.Ed.) - Curriculum and Instruction for Educators
  • Master's (M.Ed.) - Instructional Design and Technology