An associate's degree in early childhood education is often the first step for aspiring educators who wish to work with young children. There are a number of areas for study involved with the degree program, all of which lead to the practice of educating young children.
Early childhood educators must first and foremost love working with children. Since so many of the learning experiences in the early childhood setting are unstructured and play based, the life of an early childhood educator might look like that of the typical childhood care provider. However, the patience required of these care providers must be paired with a keen understanding of learning and development for the student to be a success.
An associate's degree involves the general education requirements that most two-year degrees share. However, there are also a number of education-specific courses that all early childhood educators typically study. Students should expect a course in educational philosophy, classroom management, early childhood development, and an educational psychology course. These courses serve to build a foundation for future clinical experiences and advanced specialized study.
Since most states require specific license requirements of their educators, the associate's degree for early childhood education does not typically lead directly into working in a public school. However, graduates with an associate's degree in early childhood education can take work as a classroom aid in a public school. On the other hand, positions in daycare centers, pre-school environments, and other professions where contact with small children is required are open to students with an associate's degree.
Most students who earn an associate’s degree will elect to continue their education to obtain a full bachelor's degree in early childhood education. The advantages of the associate’s degree path include the ability to begin working in a related position much sooner and the ability to audit the required coursework before becoming committed to the early childhood education age bracket.