They say teaching children is a vocation and not merely a job. And in fact getting a childhood education degree and then working to educate little children can be highly challenging as well as rewarding. It is more than just teaching kids the three ‘Rs’, it is about nurturing young personalities, offering them positive guidance, creating age appropriate activities for their development and creating a healthy learning environment for children.
An early childhood education degree program aims to prepare you for the task of preparing kids up to the age of 8 in terms of academics and also preparing the child socially and emotionally. At this time, the educator takes the place of the child’s primary care giver for several hours in a day; which makes the task even more challenging.
Typically the degree offers training for preschools or kindergartens; primary schools and elementary schools but also for other settings such as educational counseling and child development programs, or training as a home day care provider.
Degrees in childhood education
It is possible to obtain a graduate or undergraduate degree, an associate degree, bachelors’ degree, masters’ degree or even a doctoral (PhD) degree in childhood education or child care development. In the United States, the National Child Development Associate program offers a competency based assessment system that also trains would be educators.
Some training programs for educators include training for working with special children (those who are mentally challenged or physically handicapped). This can be a useful additional qualification to the basic educator’s degree since it can widen your field of expertise. Not only that, some schools and child care centers actually require some of the qualifications of special educators.
Selecting the right childhood education degree
There are several questions you need to ask yourself before you decide what kind of education degree you want to opt for. Do you see yourself in a day care center sort of setting for very young children? Or do you envisage yourself in a setting such as a Montessori or preschool set up where the most important job of the teacher is to help a child feel comfortable in a non-home setting, away from his or her regular caregivers?
Do you think you have it in you to work with special children who have very special physical, mental and emotional needs? Or do you visualize yourself in a more conventional setup where kids are taught the basic skills of reading and writing?
Assess your interests and capabilities and go with the one that best suits you.