The early childhood education (ECE) major provides a background for working with children in educational settings, such as preschool and childcare programs, elementary classrooms and out-of-school time programs. Great emphasis is placed on the development and education of young children. Early childhood education is the area of the teaching profession that involves educating young children to promote their cognitive, physical, emotional and social development.
The program prepares students for the ever-changing needs of children and their families in the context of their communities. In addition to basic human growth and development courses, classes are taken in:
- family relations
- curriculum and assessment
- philosophy of early childhood education
- methods and techniques of working with children, families and communities.
Students also gain teaching experience in early childhood settings, the Fishback Center for Early Childhood Education, and elementary schools. Supporting courses are taken in educational foundations, early childhood special education, psychology, math, communications, and key subject matter areas needed to prepare well-qualified educators.
A Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in education and human sciences can be earned with a major in early childhood education. Students can choose between two specializations: Birth through Age Eight and Cooperative Elementary Education. Each specialization allows students to focus on a particular age span in working with children and their families.
Birth through Age Eight Specialization (B-8)
This specialization prepares students to work with young children, birth through age eight, and their families. Graduates are prepared to work in inclusive early childhood settings including Head Start, preschools, childcare centers, kindergarten and primary grade classrooms. Students complete two student teaching semesters as well as field experiences at a variety of levels. Completion of this specialization qualifies students for South Dakota teaching certification in Birth through Grade 3 as well as endorsements in kindergarten and early childhood special education.
Cooperative Elementary Education Specialization (Coop)
The Cooperative Elementary Education specialization, delivered in collaboration with Dakota State University (DSU) is for students interested in teaching certification for elementary and middle school grades (Birth through Grade 8). Students attend SDSU and major in early childhood education and then complete coursework on the SDSU campus from the cooperative institutions to apply for elementary certification. Faculty at all both institutions work together to deliver this instruction on the SDSU campus. Typically it will take a student five years to complete the cooperative program.
Endorsements and Certifications
Students in the early childhood education major may choose to add endorsements to their teaching license. The following endorsements are available:
- Kindergarten Endorsement (included in the B-8 plan of study, available with extra coursework for Cooperative Elementary Education)
- Early Childhood Special Education Endorsement, Birth – Age Five (included in the B-8 plan of study, available with extra coursework for Coop)
- English as a New Language Endorsement (extra coursework required)
- Coaching Certifications (extra coursework required)
A degree in early childhood education provides many fulfilling career opportunities for qualified individuals. Careers depend on the graduate’s area of specialization. Theses careers include, but are not limited to:
- Teacher in a preschool or childcare center
- Teacher in an elementary school
- Director and/or owner of a childcare facility or preschool
- Residential care provider for young children
- Head Start teacher, program director or family advocate
- Early Head Start teacher or program director
- Parent educator
- Education director at a museum, zoo or park
The degree also prepares student to go on to graduate school in areas such as early childhood education, child development and family studies, counseling, human resource development, psychology, school administration or a variety of other fields.
For questions or more information, please contact Mary Bowne, ECE Program Unit Leader.