What to Expect
Odds are, you will do well in an early childhood education program if you
are patient (after all, you're learning how to care for children), and if
you come to it with an open mind and intellectual curiosity. That's because
you will likely take all kinds of courses from many different academic disciplines.
Janice Kitchen graduated from a two-year childhood education program. She
says that the program offered a wide variety of classes.
One class, for instance, allowed her to explore an early childhood education
issue of her choice. Assignments for this self-directed class included a major
research paper and launching measures to raise the public profile of the issue.
Brainstorming sessions were common. Students tossed around ideas
to come up with new educational activities for young children. They would
get the chance to try out those ideas during their practicums. A practicum
gives students real-world experience while they're still in school.
Practicums make up a big part of any early childhood education program.
"You are given the opportunity to apply what you are learning in the class,"
Expect to do a lot of observation during your first practicum. Your responsibilities
will increase in later ones.
Elizabeth McCarron studied at the Institute for Early Childhood Education
and Developmental Services. She says thatthe transition from the classroom
to the playroom can be rather interesting. "The first day is very scary,
very nerve-wracking," she says.
"You are talking about working with children, so there isn't really an
average day," says Kitchen.
The kids under your care may not want to follow the schedule and the plans
that are laid out for them. They may get bored or impatient. Or they may withdraw
You have to be attentive, says Kitchen. Just going by what the children
are interested in is perhaps the best way to plan.
"To prepare yourself, you have to have a knowledge or an interest in children,"
"If you do have that knowledge or interest or experience, it's going to
be easier when you go do your placement, because you will be used to working