What Are the Benefits of Early Childhood Education Degree Programs?
Most people are aware that an early childhood education degree is needed for jobs that are specifically centered on teaching children. These jobs include a public or private kindergarten teacher positions. The much wider application of quality early childhood education programs may not be as widely recognized. In fact, early childhood education programs cover a wide scope of understanding of a child’s development. ECE programs cover mental and physical health along with typical and atypical development. This includes language, emotional and cognitive development. They give a measure of understanding of the many factors that can affect this development. Often narrowly labeled a ‘teaching degree’ in the common vernacular, these early education degrees are beneficial, and even necessary, in careers that span a wide array of interactions with:
- other educators
Aside from courses in education and development, programs typically include additional courses that broaden the spectrum of use for the degree. Purdue University Global, for instance, includes business and management instruction. These diverse course offerings enable the graduate to apply what they learn within the program to run a daycare or preschool. Thus, an early childhood education degree may be valuable not only in entering a career, but for the entrepreneur as well. While valuable for a daycare employee, an ECE degree can also benefit the person who would like to start his or her own daycare. Purdue University Global’s early childhood education program also promises to grow skills in child advocacy and curriculum design. This makes it a boon for those who hope to work with disadvantaged or disabled children. The program is also a great choice for those who would exercise their creative skills in writing children’s books and creating educational materials.
Related: What is Early Childhood Education?
Administrative And Other Careers
The obvious benefit of a well-rounded early childhood education program is that it opens up the widest range of possibilities for its graduates. The skills gained in such a program provide a background for not only teaching children during the early childhood years, but also for:
- taking on the task of school administrator
- running the day-to-day concerns of a daycare or preschool
- otherwise overseeing an educational institution
To run a school, neither business knowledge nor knowledge of child development and education on its own is enough; both are necessary.
Meanwhile, as society’s understanding of the importance of early childhood care and education grows, the market for materials to foster these skills booms. There are a variety of products and tools to help young learners achieve milestones including:
- phonics sets centered around popular characters
- smartphone apps
- video and television programs
These products help the youngest learners develop essential life skills and discover colors, letters, and words. They also help build social skills. Designing and marketing a product that is effective and desirable again requires dual skill sets in both early education and business management.
Related: Early Childhood Education Outlook
For those whose desire is to teach, now is the perfect time to pursue a career in early childhood education. Early childhood educational programs are essential for setting the stage for lifelong learning. The demand for skilled and educated teachers in public schools is on the rise. Teachers are needed who have:
- skills in using technology
- an understanding of differentiated education
- the flexibility to learn and incorporate new skills and materials as they become available
Children with a wide range of learning styles and ability levels will likely be in the same classroom. Teachers need a strong understanding of developmental ranges gained from a quality early childhood education program.
The value of early childhood education extends beyond the classroom. Studies like the Perry Preschool Project show that children who participated in a preschool program have more positive adult life outcomes. These early childhood education benefits did not decrease over time. In fact, they were proven to have a positive impact on future generations. The impact a quality preschool teacher can have in the life of a child can certainly not be underestimated.
The rising debate about the effectiveness of certain educational materials is also driving a growth in private schools. Here, the ratio of students to teachers is typically lower, and more individual attention will be expected for each student. Parents entering their child in a public school will also often have higher expectations for achievement. Here, a degree that is extensive and well-rounded will help teachers communicate with parents about the individual needs of their offspring. Teachers will have the ability to provide insight on different educational paths for children with different abilities.
An early childhood education degree is also necessary when working in learning centers devoted to those with developmental or physical disabilities. Programs available today typically cover assistive technology, which includes:
- learning aids such as text-to-speech software
- adaptive keyboards for limited mobility
- a wide range of other devices that help a student with a physical disability complete his education
An early childhood education degree program will also cover learning disabilities and developmental delays. ECE teachers have the knowledge and training needed to work with individuals who are diagnosed with:
- autism spectrum disorder
- sensory processing disorder
A skilled teacher can provide children with the best possible education for their abilities and interests.
Childhood development courses specifically address how development and learning can be altered by developmental delays and disorders caused by:
- brain injuries
- exposure to harmful substances before birth
- genetic and environmental factors
Understanding the specific challenges a student faces is particularly beneficial to a teacher in a special needs classroom or learning center. It’s also a key skill for an educator reaching children in long-term hospitalization or physical rehabilitation facilities.
There are also classroom programs designed for the academically gifted. It may be intuitive to assume that children who handle academic skills with ease can be largely left to their own devices. The truth is that keeping these students challenged can be the key to ensuring that they put their ample skills to use in learning. Furthermore, heightened academic skills can sometimes be comorbid with struggles in social development. A degree in early education also includes instruction in how to address these special challenges. Teachers in gifted classrooms ensure students who have the most ease at academics can also gain the maximum value from their class time.
Daycares and Preschools
There is currently a push in the United States towards providing educational opportunities at an early age. In the U.S., the age at which schooling is compulsory varies by state, but most children enter a classroom by age five or six. So why is early childhood education important? It’s common for children entering kindergarten to be expected to know colors, numbers, and letters of the alphabet. Children are expected to begin school with the basic building blocks of knowledge. These basics, which are most easily acquired naturally through play during the years when a child’s brain is growing at its fastest, aren’t available to all children. Since not all children have the opportunity to attend a quality preschool program, many miss out on the benefits of early education.
Children whose homes do not provide opportunities for early learning can enter kindergarten at a disadvantage compared to their peers. The same is true for students who will attend an English-speaking school but may not hear English spoken in their home much, if at all. Because of the number of students who are entering kindergarten already struggling to catch up with their classmates, there is a push for universal preschool. This would make pre-kindergarten education available to all children as early as three years of age.
Early childhood education degree programs now include communication skills for interacting with ESL (English as a second language) students. Early childhood development programs also focus on childhood development from birth. These programs are well-designed to prepare students for the new jobs that will open as the demand for preschool teachers continues to grow.
Aside from public preschools, many private daycares also offer educational instruction for children as young as three. These institutions often require that their teachers have a degree in early childhood education. Even in institutions that do not focus on education, childcare is greatly facilitated by an understanding of developmental needs.
Working With Parents
It’s impossible for every parent to take a full set of courses in child development and education. One of the benefits of early childhood education is that it puts professionals in a position to reach out to parents. Child advocates may find that coursework in child development helps them serve as a communication facilitator between a struggling child and his:
- social worker
The understanding of mental and physical development these programs foster can benefit a school counselor, who finds herself in the position of explaining to a parent why his communication style isn’t reaching his child. It can be advantageous for a school resource officer who has the opportunity to reach a child and be the last line of defense, keeping a student in school and out of juvenile detention systems. School nurses, principals, and secretaries all find that a background in childhood education facilitates communication with their charges. This knowledge can be the difference between a contentious or cooperative relationship.
Why Study Early Childhood Education?
An early childhood education degree is required for virtually every teaching position in a public or private school. It is a necessity for most positions in public and private preschools, and many daycare centers. It may be required for other positions in public and private schools, including counselor, secretary or receptionist, nurse, and administrator. It is also a requirement for most other types of educational positions in learning centers, group homes, and distance teaching programs.
Aside from positions in which it is required, an understanding of child development provides a background for creating lesson plans and supplemental materials, opening a daycare or preschool center, designing apps, movies, and games that foster learning, and assisting parents in developmentally appropriate communication and care of their young children.
In short, the benefits of early childhood education degree programs apply to everyone whose career will, in any way, relate to educating children and the development of elementary school-age and younger children.
Early Childhood Education Programs
Associate’s Degree: Online Associate’s in Early Childhood
Bachelor’s Degree: Online Bachelor’s in Education Degrees
Master’s Degree: Most Affordable Online Master’s in Early Childhood Degrees