Love the idea of working with young children, and considering taking early childhood education (ECE) training? Welcome! You've come to the right place.
In this post, we're breaking down the core elements of a quality ECE program. We want you to understand what is taught in class, and which skills you'll graduate with, so you can know for sure whether this training is right for you.
So, let's get down to it. Exactly what will you learn in early childhood education courses?
What knowledge and experience will you gain, which will help you either start your own daycare, or land a great position at an established daycare or preschool?
These are the top 10 ECE skills you can expect to cover during your diploma.
1. Child psychology & development
Rule #1: You can't teach children if you don't understand how they develop and learn at different ages. That's why early child psychology and development is a key part of your ECE training.
You'll be guided through the milestones of emotional, physical, and cognitive development children go through from birth to 12 years old.
Knowing how kids develop, and what they're capable of doing and learning at each stage, will help you plan activities that make sense for each age group you work with.
You'd be surprised how quickly kids progress, and how much they absorb, during those crucial early years!
This is why your role as an early childhood educator is so important—you're laying the foundation for a lifetime of learning.
For many ECE students, exploring how young children evolve is one of the most fascinating parts of training.
2. How to plan stimulating educational activities
Many of your early childhood education courses will focus on planning creative, stimulating, relevant activities for the children in your care.
This is really the core of the program. It's all about designing activities that match each stage of development, and help your students learn new skills, all while having fun. No easy task!
But, your training will provide you with an extensive toolkit of ideas, strategies, projects, and resources you will use throughout your career, to keep coming up with exciting new ideas for your classroom.
You'll get to try out some of these approaches during your internship. There will be 2 internships during your early childhood education training—a short initiation toward the beginning, and a longer field experience at the end.
By the end of the program, you will have real, hands-on experience at a daycare. You'll be designing your own activities, teaching them to children, and responding to any challenges that come up along the way.
This is the fun stuff. Any ECE will tell you, nothing is more rewarding than helping a child learn something new.
3. How to handle challenging behaviors
Speaking of challenges...knowing how to handle difficult or disruptive behavior is essential for every early childhood educator.
How you deal with conflict in the classroom says a lot about your skills as a teacher. During your training, you'll look at several different approaches to "classroom management", including the latest research and techniques.
You'll learn how to identify problems early on, choose an appropriate intervention, analyze how well it's working, and adapt your approach if necessary.
Early childhood education courses will help you develop a wide range of behavior management tools. You'll learn the very best ways to maintain order, ensure children are safe, and help youngsters learn how to behave respectfully toward you and each other.
In essence, you're helping them learn the social and behavior skills needed to thrive at school, and within society. This is a key part of your role as an early childhood educator.
4. Creating a safe learning environment
What do you need to keep in mind when setting up a daycare for babies and toddlers? What items should be kept out of reach? How can you protect your little ones from hazards?
Your coursework will cover all of this and more. Safety is the number one priority in every ECE classroom.
5. Building trust with young children
It's not always easy to bond with a group of children who don't know you, and may not be eager to trust you. But trust is exactly what you need to open the door to learning.
Parents will want to see that their children like and trust you. Your supervisor will want to see that you're forming positive relationships with the kids in your care.
So, how do you build friendships with children, while maintaining your authority as a teacher? You'll learn all about communication techniques and trust-building strategies during your ECE training.
And you'll get to test out these techniques during your final internship, where you will interact directly with a group of children, several days a week, for a full month.
6. Helping kids work in teams
Sharing does not come naturally to most children. Parents and early childhood educators have the task of teaching kids how to work together, have patience, and respect each other's needs.
There's a lot of research on the importance of teamwork in education. But teachers will admit that designing effective group activities—and getting kids to work together well—can be very challenging.
You need specific skills to make this work. And that's exactly what you'll be learning in your ECE courses. You'll learn about typical issues that can arise when toddlers have to share toys and take turns, and how to create activities that will help them overcome those challenges.
You'll also learn how to get kids working in groups, and which projects will help them develop those crucial interpersonal skills. They'll need these skills to do well in school, and in life in general.
7. Helping kids gain independence & confidence
There are so many ways ECEs help children gain independence and confidence. From helping a child learn how to zip their coat, tie their shoes, and use the washroom by themselves—to helping a child with a learning disability master reading for the very first time.
Your early childhood education courses will focus on all the ways you can help children grow. Whether it's physical milestones, making new friends, getting used to being away from parents, or building academic skills.
ECEs help kids take on the world.
8. How to create healthy nutrition plans for children
Nutrition is a key part of every child's development. From planning healthy meals at the daycare, to supervising kids while they eat, to noticing changes in diet—you can expect a solid grounding in nutrition during ECE training.
9. How to track and report on each child's development
Has a child suddenly become withdrawn and not as interested in playing or learning? Have you noticed some kids are not reading at the level you'd expect for their age?
Does a particular child have difficulty sitting still and following instructions? How should you respond?
One of your key responsibilities as an early childhood educator is to track and report on development and progress. Quite often, it's the ECE who first identifies learning and behavioral disabilities—and alerts parents to those issues.
Your training will teach you methods of observing children and reporting on any changes you notice.
10. How to adapt your teaching for different needs
All teachers must recognize that the kids they work with come from all walks of life. Whether they have different learning needs, speak another language, are newcomers to the country, or simply have distinct personalities—adapting your teaching to those differences is essential.
You can't expect all kids to learn in the exact same way. Or, that every child in your daycare is at the same stage of development.
The challenge is figuring out ways to help each and every child learn and grow, by combining a range of techniques and approaches. You must be flexible, and ready to change your approach if it's not working well.
Your early childhood education courses will prepare you to serve all children equally. By the time you finish your ECE diploma, you'll be ready to create a classroom environment where every child feels welcomed, accepted, and ready to learn. That's what it's all about!
Inspired to learn more about ECE training? Looking for a top-rated early childhood education college in Montreal?
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