Online Bachelor's in Early Childhood Education

Early childhood education workers can help kids learn, grow, develop, and flourish during their youngest years. Graduates of early childhood education programs can find jobs in growing fields, such as childcare workers, preschool teachers, elementary school teachers, or special education teachers. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects these industries to grow by 7-10% from 2016 to 2026.

Early childhood education bachelor's degrees train teachers to work with children from pre-k to the second or third grade. This program teaches adults how to understand and educate small children and encourage imagination and creativity. Many early childhood and primary education degrees online also prepare students for the Child Development Associate (CDA) credential. Most employers prefer to hire early childhood educators with bachelor's degrees. In most public school systems, teachers must hold bachelor's degrees, as required by law. Some states also require the CDA credential.

Early childhood education bachelor's degrees train teachers to work with children from pre-k to the second or third grade.

Pursuing a bachelor's degree may seem like an intimidating task for anyone who works full-time, cares for a family, or juggles other life responsibilities. A nontraditional online degree, however, offers flexible scheduling and part-time study.

The following guide provides introductory information about earning an early childhood education bachelor's degree online. It can help you decide if the degree fits your goals and lifestyle. The guide goes over possible coursework, the responsibilities of distance learning, certification requirements, and potential career paths.

What Can I Expect From an Online Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education Program?

When pursuing an early childhood education degree online, students learn how to instruct young children. However, the details of each degree varies. Each program requires different admissions materials, courses, and practicum experiences. Additionally, early childhood education majors can choose electives and a concentration. This section outlines a general overview of what prospective students may encounter within their education.

Curriculum for an Online Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education

Early childhood education degree online programs begin with introductory courses, such as childhood development and children's literature. Advanced courses look at instructing special needs children or developing effective curricula for young children. Early childhood education programs often include a practicum, student teaching experience, or internship.

Growth and Development of the Young Child

In order to properly care for and teach children, educators must understand how children develop. This course covers theories of childhood development, including constructivism, psychosocial theory, and Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Course material focuses on children's cognitive, physical, emotional, social, and language development.

Health, Safety, and Nutrition in Early Childhood Education

A huge part of caring for children includes ensuring their health and safety. Students learn about nutrition options for young children, infectious disease control, and pediatric medication. The course also covers universal precautions on how to keep children from getting sick or suffering from abuse.

Children with Disabilities

This course covers what to expect when educating children with disabilities. Students learn about children's behaviors and challenges and how to help struggling kids. In addition, children with disabilities can demonstrate disruptive behaviors. Early childhood education students in this course learn how to respond to these behaviors without further triggering the child.

Talented/Gifted Children

Intellectually gifted students can often feel ignored or bored in normal preschool or classroom settings. Distance learners study the needs and characteristics of talented children. They also learn how to keep gifted children intellectually stimulated and academically motivated through curriculum differentiation options.

Creativity in Early Childhood Education

Creativity, imagination, and play make up important aspects in a young child's life. These qualities also mold them into critical thinkers and problem solvers. This course teaches students how to help children's creativity flourish, leading to cognitive, social, and emotional development in children.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education?

Online bachelor's degree programs traditionally comprise 120 credits and take four years to complete. Cohort learning programs, where students pursue their degree alongside their peers, follows the more conventional path. However, distance learners can opt for an individualized pace.

The flexibility of distance learning means that each student's completion time depends on their circumstances. For instance, some online learners may begin their degrees with several transfer credits, which could eliminate a semester or even a year from completion time. Additionally, some schools offer accelerated courses, allowing students to finish coursework more quickly.

Some online students may need more than four years to graduate. Learners who work full time or who must tend to family responsibilities might only enroll in one or two courses at a time. These students may need extra time to finish their degrees.

Is Online Learning Right for Me?

In many ways, distance learning offers several advantages that traditional on-campus learning does not, like the ability for students to control their own schedules. Before committing to an online program, interested individuals should consider whether they can succeed in online learning.

Most importantly, online students must possess self-motivation and self-discipline. Students should set aside 4-15 hours in their week to dedicate to each class. In addition, distance learners must manage their time and remain organized. Students must work independently, without the structure of set class times and deadline reminders.

Early Childhood Education Certification

Teachers at public schools need licensure or certification. Although specific requirements for licensure vary by state, all candidates must hold a bachelor's degree. Learners should complete a student teaching program and pass a general teaching certification test. Educators must also participate in continuing education courses throughout their careers to renew their credentials. Teachers can find more specific requirements for each state at Teach.org. Teachers working at private schools do not necessarily need teaching licensure or certification, though some private schools prefer if they do.

Preschool teachers and childcare workers who do not work in public schools may still need certification, depending on the state.

Preschool teachers and childcare workers who do not work in public schools may still need certification, depending on the state. The most common certification, the CDA credential from the Council of Professional Recognition, requires coursework, work experience, and a passing grade on a written exam. Professionals must undergo an evaluation while working with young kids. Early childhood professionals must renew their CDA every three years.

Early Childhood Education Careers

The scope of early childhood education usually encompasses ages between birth and eight years old. Early childhood educators often find jobs at childcare centers, preschools, and elementary schools. These teachers take on the important role of laying the foundation for children's education to set the foundation for what children learn in the future. Special education teachers need a healthy amount of physical stamina, patience, and communication skills.

Preschool Teacher

Description Preschool teachers work with small children, usually from ages 3-5. They teach basic knowledge of colors, letters, numbers, and shapes. They also play with children, read them stories, and help them develop social skills. Although preschool teachers can find jobs with associate degrees, most public schools require teachers to hold bachelor's degrees in early childhood education or a similar field.
Median Annual Salary $29,780
Projected Job Growth Rate 10%

Kindergarten and Elementary School Teacher

Description Early childhood education majors can also find work at elementary schools. These educators teach children about foundational concepts like arithmetic, reading, and writing. Unlike high school teachers, kindergarten and elementary school teachers instruct one class of students in all subjects, including basic science, social studies, and math.
Median Annual Salary $57,980
Projected Job Growth Rate 7%

Preschool and Childcare Center Director

Description These professionals run organizations that care for and teach young children under six years old. They establish policies, set goals, supervise staff, and communicate with parents. Directors also set instructional standards and develop educational programs. Preschool and childcare center directors typically need bachelor's degrees for employment.
Median Annual Salary $47,940
Projected Job Growth Rate 11%

Childcare Worker

Description Childcare workers find jobs at childcare centers or with private families, working in self-employed capacities. Professionals supervise, play with, and sometimes teach children. Childcare workers who watch young children may also feed and bathe them and must ensure their safety. Even though many childcare centers hire job candidates without higher education, professionals with a bachelor's degree can find higher level, higher paying positions.
Median Annual Salary $23,240
Projected Job Growth Rate 7%

Special Education Teacher

Description Special education teachers work with kids of all ages with learning disabilities. They may help children with mental, sensory, emotional, and physical disabilities, as well. Sometimes special education teachers work in classrooms with only children of differing abilities, while other jobs allow special education teachers to help children in general education classrooms.
Median Annual Salary $59,780
Projected Job Growth Rate 8%
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