What is Early Childhood Education?
Early childhood education (ECE) is a theory of education regarding young children, generally including preschool, kindergarten, and 1st through 3rd grade. While specific applications vary, much of ECE theory is based on the idea that children learn best through exploration and doing. The scholars Jean Piaget, Erik Erikson, John Dewey, and Lucy Sprague Mitchell were instrumental in guiding ECE to focus on children learning through play. This school of thought emphasizes the idea that playing meets a child’s physical, intellectual, language, emotional, and social (PILES) needs.
If you’re interested in becoming a teacher, pursue an early childhood education degree. You’ll need a B.A. in Early Childhood Education and one of several teaching credentials. If you’re more interested in taking on leadership roles in education, look into pursuing an M.A. in Early Childhood Education.
Currently, California is in the midst of a record shortage of teachers. With the shortage reaching crisis proportions, it is estimated that California will need an additional 100,000 teachers in the next decade.
How do I become a teacher in California?
At a glance:
- Determine which grade level you wish to teach.
- Earn the appropriate teaching credential from an accredited college.*
- Maintain your teaching credential.
In California, teachers are required to have their B.A. or M.A. degree, as well as a teaching credential for the level that they wish to teach. Teacher credentialing programs can be part of a blended bachelor’s degree program or can be stand-alone for those who already have their bachelor’s degree. Teaching credentialing requirements vary by state. Some states do maintain reciprocity agreements, allowing people who have been issued certifications in one state to apply for similar credentials in others—although some additional coursework may be necessary.
* Pacific Oaks College is accredited by the WASC of Colleges Senior Colleges (WSCUC). In addition to WASC accreditation, the certification program must also be on the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) approved programs list.
Additional Careers in Early Childhood Education
In addition to teaching, graduates of our early childhood education programs can find rewarding careers in public or private schools, childcare programs, state agencies, and nonprofits in the following roles:
- Childcare/Preschool administrator
- Principal (requires master’s degree)
- Assistant director
Why choose a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education from Pacific Oaks?
Pacific Oaks has been instrumental in shaping the field of ECE since the U.S. government asked us to launch one of the nation’s first Head Start training programs in 1964.
Our programs in early childhood education integrate Pacific Oaks’ transformative approach to early childhood education with a strong grounding in the theory, research, and hands-on experience. Benefiting from Pacific Oaks’ commitment to an education centered on culture, students are immersed in an environment that celebrates diversity, inclusion, and equality, emerging with the cultural competencies to provide leadership in a wide variety of educational settings.
Students will have the opportunity to develop their skills while working with children and families from underrepresented and underprivileged areas. They will also have the chance to collaborate with educational administrators and leaders on projects including program evaluation, business process, and creating and implementing policies and practices.