Defining Features of a Career in Early Childhood Education
A career that involves working with young children comes with some of the biggest responsibilities in education, yet it also provides the greatest rewards. Although teaching is one of the most common positions in early childhood education, people also obtain employment as directors of preschools, assistants and researchers. The field of early childhood education can also include working with infants and toddlers in addition to preschoolers, depending upon the facility in which you work. This gives greater flexibility for those who prefer to work with the youngest children. While your day-to-day duties will greatly depend upon the position you choose, you can expect to be fully involved in these five aspects of early childhood education.
The field of early childhood education has come a long way since the days of finger painting and making mud pies. While kids do still enjoy those sensory experiences, they are intentionally planned to teach specific concepts. These concepts have all been developed through research and address early literacy learning, scientific reasoning, vocabulary development and motor skills. As you work with the children in your care, you always know that you are using research-based methods that will help them learn.
Individualized Learning Strategies
Today’s educational systems no longer focus on a one-size-fits-all mentality. Children come to the early childhood classroom with a wide range of skills and abilities. For this reason, one of the best practices in early childhood education is to develop individualized learning plans. While these are sometimes required for children with special needs, you may also individualize learning strategies as you notice new skills emerging from every student. For example, you may plan for one child to complete a six-piece puzzle while leaving out a 12-piece one for those who have already accomplished the first skill.
In addition to working with the children directly, you will be involved in lesson planning. Weekly and monthly lesson plans simply provide you with a guide for how to proceed teaching new concepts, and it will help you and your assistant to prepare your teaching materials. Having things such as your teacher resources and manipulatives ready to go each week will ensure that no precious learning opportunity is missed.
For many careers, completing a degree program is the highest level of education required. Yet, educators must keep up with the latest practices in the field of education. For this reason, many schools and early childhood programs require continuing education units to be obtained every year. This training is valuable for helping you keep up with your responsibilities such as ensuring the safety of every kid in your program.
Opportunities for Professional Growth
Many people begin in the field of early childhood education as assistants until they have obtained the education and experience required to apply for higher-level positions. Some preschool programs also include varying levels of teacher positions that include additional responsibilities and compensation depending upon a person’s level of experience. Over time, many teachers choose to be promoted to positions of leadership such as principals and child development center directors. Having a goal to strive toward helps keep teachers motivated to continue to stretch their understanding of early childhood development.
When families bring their children to an early childhood education program, they trust that their child is in caring hands. While you will encounter challenges as you work with children, you will also discover that each day brings a feeling of accomplishment. By choosing to work in the early childhood education field, you will always know that you have made a tremendous impact upon the life of a child.