Early Childhood Education

Course Overview

Units at a glance

Understanding the individual and differing roles and responsibilities of both parents and caregivers is essential for the student considering a career in child care. Both parents and child-care providers provide love and nurturing and model appropriate behavior for children. Parents and caregivers work as a team, with the parent as the primary authority and the caregiver as an essential support to the parent. Caregivers have a responsibility to maintain an environment that is safe, healthy, respectful, and tolerant for the children in their care.

Child-care homes and facilities, regardless of size, have a responsibility to provide a clean and safe environment for children in their care. Understanding cleanliness standards and child safety is essential for all child-care providers, whether employees or owners. Appropriate hygiene in the child-care environment will reduce illness, prevent pests, and keep children healthy. Child proofing and other child-safety measures reduce risks for the children in care. Together, these measures create a clean, safe, and healthy environment for both children and caregivers.

Children in care typically consume a significant portion of their daily food at the child-care center or facility. Many children eat breakfast, lunch, and snacks away from home. Providing healthy, tasty meals is an essential part of caring for children, from infants through school-age kids. Good nutrition provides children with a healthy start in life that will remain with them throughout their lives.

Laws regulate the standards and operation of child-care facilities. These laws cover both small and large child-care facilities and providers, including small-scale registered child-care homes, somewhat larger licensed child-care homes and fully staffed child-care centers. Understanding the laws controlling child-care facilities is essential for any potential child-care provider.

Understanding child development enables the child-care provider to maintain appropriate expectations regarding skills and behavior for children from infancy through the early school years. A thorough understanding of typical child development also allows the provider to recognize developmental delays and serve as an essential part of the care team for special needs children.

Early child-care workers and caregivers serve a key role in facilitating play for young children. From birth to age six, play is essential for the child’s growth and development, providing a vast array of learning opportunities. Understanding the value of play, its role in the child-care home or center, and how adults can encourage and support children’s play is an essential part of understanding early childhood development and early childhood education.

Creating a positive, loving and enriching environment for children requires not only an understanding of child development, nutrition, and safety, but also the ability to discipline and guide children. Maintaining a well-controlled classroom and teaching children appropriate behavior are essential responsibilities of any child-care provider. With additional knowledge about discipline and guidance, you will be prepared to work together with children, parents, and coworkers to create a positive and nurturing space.

While caring for children is the child-care provider’s primary responsibility, care providers also must communicate with parents, observe children, and record those observations. By maintaining open and positive communication with parents, you can work as a team, acting in the best interest of the children in your care. Observation and recording are two essential tools that can provide parents with information about their children and provide care providers with additional insights about both individual children and the function of the classroom or daycare home.

Building language and literacy skills is essential in early childhood. Child-care providers can help children develop a broad vocabulary, language skills, and letter recognition in preparation for kindergarten. While child-care facilities may opt for a more or less academic perspective, creating a rich environment with ample access to language and books will help children be ready to learn to read.

The study of early childhood education and child development may provide the basis for a career in child care, early childhood education, or other fields strongly related to child care and children’s welfare and well-being. During this course, you may have discovered subjects of strong personal interest and feel drawn to a particular aspect of early childhood education, from nutrition to children with special needs. Regardless of your personal interests, if you opt to pursue a career working with children, you need to consider your own educational goals, your personal dreams, and the best way to build a successful and rewarding career.

Course Highlights

Learn about licensing and state requirements for childcare workers.
Examine career options in childhood education.
Explore how to create a safe, enriching environment for children.
Investigate how to encourage the development and wellbeing of children.

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