Why an Associate’s Degree in Early Childhood Education?
For students who are just beginning their college education and want to work in early childhood education, the time is right to consider associate’s level degrees in this area. Unlike a more general associate’s you can start taking elective courses that will put you right on track to move into a bachelor’s program and give you an opportunity to earn your licensure.
Get on the path to a Bachelor’s
While it’s true that most state’s require at lease a bachelor’s degree to work in public schools, there are opportunities to get your initial work experience, and start developing the knowledge base to thrive in the field by completing an accredited associate’s program.
Many online options
Plus, there are many online associate’s degree options for early childhood programs. Since internships and capstone projects aren’t required, you can complete 100% of your coursework online in most programs. However, when comparing schools, be sure to ask the advisors at each school if there are requirements are for in-person tests or field work attached to the program.
However, if you can find a school near you that offers a mostly online program, you can benefit from externship opportunities, if available. Many schools have relationships with local daycare centers that are always looking for budding students who are excited to start their careers. These can be great ways to network with local employers and transition from the campus or virtual classroom to a career.
As you continue reading, you will see that there are multiple types of associate’s programs that can help you work in early childhood education. That’s why it’s critical you speak with several schools in your area, and online before choosing a program.
What Online Associate’s Degrees Are Available?
Early Education Associate’s Degree
This is a commonly held degree by those who are serious about working in early childhood education from the beginning of their studies. In this type of program, students will typically focus on learning classroom management, educational philosophy and learning theories.
Child Development Associate’s Degree
This type of degree program can help you understand the many aspects of development, including neurological, physical and other psychological elements that affect children as they learn and grow through their early years. During this type of program you may learn how to develop curriculum that matches the mental capabilities for young children, as well as how to asses and analyze their behavior and learning styles.
As you search for associate’s programs and compare schools, you will find that early childhood associate’s programs are the most common. However, you should ask each school how many of their associate’s programs are relevant to early childhood education. You may find they offer unique programs and certifications for students like yourself.
What Specific Courses Should You Expect to Take?
Like most associate’s degree programs, you will most likely start with electives that cover a variety of subjects, including English, computer technology, and other requirements, depending on your high school academic performance. However, the opportunity to get a solid foundation is possible with a heavy course load of childhood education focused courses.
Childhood Development Courses
This is a course that is commonly required in most programs to help students become proficient in language and literacy knowledge, and how children develop during their youngest years.
Careers in Childhood Education Courses
This course can teach you what it’s like to work in a variety of careers in early education. There are differences between learning environments and types of children that you should know about as you plan the best career path for you. This course can help you better understand where you should direct your professional aspirations.
Health and Nutrition Courses
Though you may not be a health coach to your students, you should understand appropriate health and nutrition habits young children require to stay focused, motivated, and experience proper brain function, which is essential for learning.
Family Dynamics Courses
Your work with the children will not begin and end with them. You will need the skills to work with parents and understand family dynamics that affect their success in the classroom. In this type of course you can learn to help parents from all backgrounds work with you and their children to create positive outcomes.
Career and Salary Outlook for Associate’s Degree Holders
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary potential for preschool workers with their associate’s degree is $28,570, with a projected growth of 7% per year through 2014.
Those who graduate with an associate’s can qualify to work in public and private schools and daycare facilities, depending on your state’s laws and regulations. With a more diverse student population that is growing every year, the need for preschool teachers in various learning environments will become more necessary in the coming years.
However, to increase your chances of professional success even more, you should consider earning your bachelor’s degree in early childhood education after completing your associates.
Working with Your Associate’s Degree
A common career for those with their associate’s is a preschool teacher. Although there are many kinds, there are common traits no matter where you work. Preschool teachers must be ready to get going the second the day begins and the first child is dropped off in their care.
You have to be ready for the unexpected, from both the children and their parents, who are rushing to begin their days as well. You will go from jotting down special instructions, such as “please remember to give my son his medicine” to helping resolve conflicts during recess or free play.
During activities and learning time, you will have to help all your students understand how to approach the assignments, as well as how to move past the challenges of completing them.
This will require an understanding of how different students learn and how to engage their differences while maintaining unity in the classroom.
Of course, you will have to navigate the complexities of lunch and snack times, which you will find yourself catering to the various dietary needs, such as food allergies, for your students. This can be a lot to manage, which is why your education is so important.
With the right degree programs you can be ready to face the daily challenges of working in early childhood education, and help shape your work environment to be as effective and efficient as possible. It all starts with the right associate’s degree program.
Salary Source: BLS