Many people have questions about the differences between a degree in Elementary Education and a degree in Early Childhood Education. Our Early Childhood Education program has a greater focus on the development of young children and how we can best educate those in preschool as well as in grades K-3. Here are 5 things you might not have known previously about a degree/career in Early Childhood Education!
1. Human Development
A huge part of the Early Childhood Education major is learning and identifying how children develop holistically! Within this program, you will dive into the world of developmental domains: the four most important being, social, emotional, cognitive, and physical growth. Since young children are constantly learning and developing both their bodies and minds, this major prepares you to create lesson plans that target the development of children in all areas.
2. Developmentally Appropriate Learning
Depending on whether you teach preschool or kindergarten, not all young students may know how to read yet, but all students CAN learn. We focus on how to help students learn content and develop skills that are within their ability. Learning for children at this age involves a lot of play based activities and hands on experiences. Others outside of this major may oversimplify what we do and assume it's "easy to play with kids and play-dough all day long." However, well thought out lessons and activities are very intentional so that we can target the development of specific skills. It takes a lot of time and effort to plan out lessons for children at varied stages of development. The courses in this major will help to prepare you! Some examples of courses you will take are Foundations of Child Development, Infant Development in the Family or Social Development, Foundations of Literacy Development, and so much more!
3. BYU Lab School Practicum
All education majors in the McKay School of Education have at least two semesters of practicum, or classroom experiences, where they get to apply what they have been learning in their courses in actual classrooms. As an Early Childhood Education major, you will get to do a semester of practicum in our very own BYU Child and Family Studies Laboratory! This will give you the opportunity to work in the preschool or kindergarten for an entire semester. As a pre-service teacher, Early Childhood Education majors get to practice teaching a whole class in the safety of a training lab, with support from a mentor teacher and team. The relationships you build can be impactful for both you and the students, giving you just a taste of the joy that comes from teaching.
4. Teaching Independence
Early Childhood educators deeply value helping children to become independent human beings. We want children to know how to solve their own problems and function independently! Thus, a major focus of early childhood education is the development of social skills and emotional self regulation. Rather than just teaching academic content knowledge, it is essential that young children get instruction and experience with social and emotional skills necessary to excel in school and in relationships.
5. Make Learning FUN!
The first few years of school for children are critical! As an early childhood educator, you will help set the course for the rest of their education. You have the ability to ensure that school is a joy for your students! Be creative with your lessons and have FUN! Make school a place your students want to be, and not only will you love your job, but your students will love to learn! You can have a huge impact in the beginning stages of education for these young children.
If you love helping young children learn and grow, this is the major for you! Learn more about a degree in Early Childhood Education here or meet with a student ambassador to learn more!