what is early childhood education

What is Early Childhood Education?

Early childhood education describes the period of learning that takes place from birth to 8 years old. There are several types of early education programs, including those that are federal, state or privately funded. The curricula and approach often vary at the preschool level, but there are generally agreed-upon standards for the types of learning addressed in early childhood education settings. At Gwynedd Mercy University, you can earn an early childhood education degree in four years and gain real-world experience through our hands-on learning approach.

What Can You Do With an Early Childhood Education Degree?
Early Childhood Education Degree Requirements
Early Childhood Education Salary Information
Your GMercyU Path to a Career in Early Childhood Education

What Can You Do With an Early Childhood Education Degree?

There are many careers in early childhood education, including positions in public and private schools, childcare centers or private homes.

The question is not what can you do with an early childhood education degree, but rather, what can’t you do? There are many career paths you can take, including teaching, managing a daycare, and providing in-home care for children. Below are some examples of early childhood education careers:

  • Preschool Teacher: Preschool teachers introduce young children to education and prepare them for kindergarten. They plan curricula that are age appropriate, and introduce themes and concepts children will expand upon in elementary school. They also look for signs of emotional or developmental issues, and bring them to the attention of parents or guardians. The early childhood teacher job description can vary between childcare centers.
  • Kindergarten and Elementary School Teacher: Kindergarten and elementary school teachers create lesson plans for math, English, social studies and science, but also teach students the soft skills they need to be successful in school. They communicate with parents about their child’s progress and prepare students to take standardized tests.
  • Nanny: Nannies and other childcare workers care for children while their parents are out of the house. These workers are responsible for bathing and feeding the children, supervising their play time, and organizing activities for them.
  • Childcare Center Director: The director of the childcare center oversees all of the preschool teachers and childcare workers. They are responsible for hiring and training staff, planning the budget, developing the educational standards and programming for the center, and meeting with parents to discuss students’ progress.
  • School Counselor or Psychologist: Working in elementary schools, counselors and psychologists can diagnose learning disabilities or cognitive, emotional or behavioral problems in young students. Together with parents, the counselors and psychologists can design and implement behavior modification programs for students.

Early Childhood Education Degree Requirements

Being an early childhood education teacher is an important job. You’ll be charged with building the foundation of the youngest learners; all future teachers will build upon the foundation you lay. Because of that, it’s important that you understand the early childhood education degree requirements in the state in which you plan to work.

In Pennsylvania, all early education teachers in public schools must hold a bachelor’s degree and state certification. Nonpublic schools, including religiously affiliated schools, have their own degree and certification requirements. These degree requirements are for teachers in pre-kindergarten through fourth grade.

State certifications can vary, but early education teachers in Pennsylvania will need to pass Pearson’s Pennsylvania Educator Certification Test Early Learning Modules 1,2 and 3 in order to achieve teacher certification.

Early Childhood Education Salary Information

As with many professions, early childhood education salary information is dependent upon many factors, including education level, geographic region, and work environment. Below you will find the national median salary information for possible early childhood education careers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Position Salary
Preschool Teachers $28,790
Childcare Center Director $45,790
Nanny and Childcare Workers $21,170
Elementary School Counselor and School Psychologist $75,670
Kindergarten and Elementary Teacher $55,490

Your GMercyU Path to a Career in Early Childhood Education

All education students at Gwynedd Mercy University enter into the general Education Studies program. After you complete 45 credits and pass the Basic Skills Assessment Test as required by the state Department of Education, you can enter into a teacher certification program to obtain a degree in early and special education. GMercyU students start classroom observations as early as October of your freshman year. In total, you’ll spend eight semesters in a classroom, providing you with the best resources and faculty members as you work to develop your teaching skills.. You’ll also have access to the Hobbit House, our on-site, licensed, private academic lab school, giving you real-world experience right here on Main Campus.