Early childhood professionals care for and teach infants, toddlers and young children. Responsibilities may include developing and implementing appropriate curriculum, nurturing social skills, supporting emotional development and ensuring the physical well-being of children. In addition, these professionals communicate with family members, collaborate with colleagues, and manage the business of providing services for young children and their families. There are seven basic career pathways to consider if you are interested in working with young children. You can craft your early childhood career depending on your interests and talents. Take a variety of courses that require you to think out of the box about ways you can serve children’s best interests.
All children need childcare of some sort. Many families forgo corporate childcare programs in order to have their children watched in someone’s home. Although there is some licensing involved in starting your home childcare business, it does not require a degree. Among the advantages of choosing to have a home business is that you can have your own children in the home with you, and you get to make the decisions about what is appropriate for the children in your care. Your care will be as good as your personal knowledge of early childhood services, so it makes sense for you to learn and grow as much as possible. Parents can be very discerning when it comes to the people their children spend time with, so though you might not need an advanced degree, you might want to earn one anyway and boost your credibility.
Licensed Early Childhood Program
Early childhood educators are charged with learning as much as they can about the development process of a child from birth to seven years old. This time is critical to success later in life and is often seen as one of the most important times for learning. Early childhood professionals must attend a rigorous program to help themselves understand the best methods for the many diverse developmental paths. Preparation to become an early childhood professional can entail courses like the following:
- Developmental Perspectives.
- Documenting Young Child’s Learning and Development.
- Administration and Supervision of Programs for Young Children.
- Sources and Models of Early Childhood Curriculum.
- Research in Early Childhood.
- Leadership in Early Childhood Education.
Elementary school is an important stepping stone for helping students develop the necessary experiences to be successful, regardless of socioeconomic circumstance. Early childhood careers based in public schools will require the same training as that for elementary teachers but with a focus on the early years. Schools require their teachers to have a bachelor’s degree, but many prefer candidates with a master’s degree. The knowledge gained in a master’s program can give teachers an edge both in terms of securing a job and in developing a solid rationale for why early childhood education is so critical to academic success.
The Head Start program started as a federal program designed to combat childhood poverty. The theory posits that both the child and the family need healthcare, education, social services, and parent-community involvement in one program for the child to succeed. Most Head Start programs serve children aged three to five years, but the program also supports Early Start for infants and toddlers. These programs require teachers to have a bachelor’s degree, but teachers with advanced degrees may be more successful because of their extensive knowledge of and experience with poverty issues.
Community Child Care Support Agency
This is a different kind of role for an early childhood professional: Instead of giving direct service, you provide support services. Parents call this type of agency to find the right childcare provider for their child or for a child they know. By earning an advanced degree, you can gain the skills that will enable you to provide the best possible guidance for a young child’s development.
When you work for a state office as an early childhood professional, you help providers get the best information to be able to support and teach the young children in their care. This position requires extensive knowledge of early childhood services, including legal issues. Previous experience in early childhood development or teaching is required for these positions.
Alternate Connected Pathways
There are many alternate connected pathways for people interested in getting an advanced degree in early childhood services. People can look at becoming a school nurse assistant, playground supervisor or cafeteria manager. All of these positions require experience with children and education.
Early childhood careers are plentiful in the United States and as diverse as the people who have an interest in this pathway. Find a master’s degree program that enables you to meet your professional goals and a mentor to guide you. A life spent helping children is a life well spent.
Learn more about the Arkansas State Master of Science in Early Childhood Services online program.