Early Childhood Education deals with teaching children from birth to about 8 years old (or usually the third grade). Children learn the most during this stage in their lives, so more and more emphasis is placed on knowing the best ways to teach them. An associate’s degree will get you started in a day care or preschool, but you’ll need a bachelor’s degree to teach in public schools.
It’s most important that Early Childhood Education majors enjoy young children. As cute as they sometimes can be, this age group is challenging and brings with it plenty of frustrations that some people just aren’t suited for. Early Childhood Education majors also like teaching. They especially like using hands-on teaching techniques and don’t mind getting their hands covered in paint or glue right along with the children they teach.
Early Childhood Education majors are patient. They can handle the stresses of dealing with multiple children from different backgrounds and with different parenting. They are good communicators. They can teach a toddler how to wash her hands as well as talk to parents about the importance of helping their child with homework each day. They are also creative. It takes plenty of good ideas to keep up with active children all day long.
Along with children come things like boogers and bugs and tantrums. As an Early Childhood Education major you’ll get the good and the bad from your kids; if you think that side of kids is too icky, you’re not going to last long.
Anyone considering college should already know math and science up to a third grade level. But knowing it and knowing how to teach it are different things. You’ll take classes in methods of teaching every subject. You’ll also take classes in psychology and ethics.
With a degree in Early Childhood Education, you can work at higher positions in a day care, start a preschool, or teach kindergarten through third grade.
You may not be able to volunteer at a day care center, but you certainly can get some babysitting experience. Check with family members or neighbors with young children and offer to watch their kids every once in a while. You’ll have experience with the age group, and you’ll have a parent you can use as a personal reference.
Take your student teaching seriously. Students will spend at least one semester paired up with a licensed teacher, helping out in his or her classroom. You’ll be able to learn a lot from your seasoned mentor, and you’ll have the benefit of having someone critique you as you try to use the skills you learned in your classes.