Earning an MA in Early Childhood Education
Don’t you wish kids could stay young forever? Earning an Early Childhood Education Degree means that you can work with a constant stream of little ones, even as your own children grow up. Early childhood refers to the very first stages of a person’s life, generally from birth to age eight, and early childhood educators are at the forefront of teaching, caring for, and researching kids at their most crucial stage of development.
Most graduates of early childhood education programs go on to become educators in some way or another. Some work at daycare centers as room leaders. Others teach various levels of pre-school, kindergarten, or early elementary school classes. Still others work in hybrid programs that combine classroom activities with daycare services. Earning an MA in early childhood education also allows for a more flexible, self-directed career as a highly qualified baby-sitter or nanny. People with their own small children at home sometimes choose to take this route because it allows for more family time and even the possibility to take the kids to work! At the highest career levels, a master’s degree allows students to pursue careers as administrators, school principals, curriculum developers, and even researchers.
Personality Traits of Early Childhood Educators
First and foremost, early childhood education majors must love children. Because most early childhood education careers involve working in a very hands-on environment, these folks must remain patient and loving through messy snack times, temper tantrums, and potty training accidents. Early childhood educators must also have a strong sense of play and the desire to get down on the floor occasionally to push toy trucks around a track. They tend to be calm about messes that result from creative activities, like Play-doh in the carpet and finger paint on the table. On the other hand, the best early childhood educators know that all this loving and nurturing must be tempered by the firmness of an authority figure. It’s a difficult balance, but these are the folks who are trained to do it better than anyone else.
Early Childhood Education Courses
Students pursuing a degree in early childhood education will study child psychology and development to learn how children perceive the world and acquire knowledge. They will also learn how to teach very early math and literacy skills to become skilled at introducing young children to numbers and reading. In a broader sense, early childhood education majors will learn how to plan all aspects of curriculum related to introducing kids to their first school experiences. Finally, students will learn how to evaluate and assess young children for developmental disabilities and impairments that might affect their physical, emotional, and intellectual growth.
The career outlook for child care workers is very good, with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicting a 15.5% growth for all early childhood education-related careers through 2018. Preschool and kindergarten teachers will make up the largest component of this growth, with a predicted 22.5% increase in positions available, thus emphasizing the importance of earning an advanced degree or certification in this field.