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Best Online Degrees in: Early Childhood Education

Editor’s Picks: Online Schools for Early Childhood Education

Value
Kansas State University is being given the award for best value in a school offering an online bachelor’s degree in early childhood education. Students at Kansas State receive a high-quality education, earn an accredited degree, and have access to career and counseling services that can benefit them for the rest of their lives. PayScale.com shows that Kansas State graduates receive an average return on investment of 7.4% for those not receiving fanancial aid, and 8.3% for students receiving financial aid.

Flexibility
The award for most flexible school offering an online bachelor’s degree in early childhood education is being given to Ashford University. Students can complete their assignments at any time and from anywhere. They are able to work at their own pace, just as long as they turn in their completed assignments by the deadline. Ashford has been given an A+ rating for their flexibility by students on College Prowler and CliffsNotes.

Career Support
The award for best career support in a school offering an online bachelor’s degree in early childhood education goes to Western Governors University. They have alumni mentors that will assist alumni with writing their resumes and cover letters, developing skills and learning techniques to be used in interviews, and finding a job. They also provide their alumni with free resume development software and access to national job banks. On College Prowler, students have given Western Governors an A rating for career support.

Technology Support
Ashford University is receiving the award for best technology support in a school offering an online bachelor’s degree in early childhood education. Ashford has incorporated advanced technology into their online programs to make learning easier for their students. This includes a virtual classroom that’s user-friendly and technologically advanced, and mobile apps for a variety of devices, including iPads, smartphones, tablets, and Kindle Fires. Furthermore, their highly-qualified tech support team is available to offer any kind of assistance a student may need, and the team has been ranked as No. 9 in the nation by students on College Prowler.

Student Engagement
The award for best student engagement in a school offering an online bachelor’s degree in early childhood education is being given to University of Cincinnati. They have developed an online learning environment that allows students and faculty to interact, support one another, and share ideas, tips, and advice. They have been ranked No. 23 in the nation for student engagement and assessment by U.S. News & World Report in their “Top Online Bachelor’s Programs” ranking.

Disability Support
The award for best disability support in a school offering an online bachelor’s degree in early childhood education is being given to Kansas State University. A department of their Disability Support Services is dedicated to specifically helping online students with disabilities. Their staff will work with each student to accommodate their needs through assistive technology and software or any other means at their disposal.

Library and Research Support
Ashford University is being given the award for the best library and research support in a school offering an online bachelor’s degree in early childhood education. Online students at Ashford have access to an expansive collection of e-books, scholarly and general magazines, newspaper articles, legal documents, government publications, reports, company profiles, and more. Students can also find numerous research resources and receive research assistance through the librarian and instructional aids.

Learning Support
Western Governors University is receiving the award for best learning support in a school offering an online bachelor’s degree in early childhood education. U.S. News & World Report has ranked Western Governors No. 20 in the nation for student services and technology due to the support they give their students. They provide streaming video, smartphone apps, the university’s virtual library, online tutoring, and research assistance. Students are also assigned a student mentor and course mentors to give them constant support and assistance throughout their tenure at the university.

Faculty Credentials
The award for best faculty credentials in a school offering an online bachelor’s program in early childhood education goes to Western Governors University. They ensure each of their instructors is able to instruct and mentor their students online. According to the school’s website, 95% of their faculty members have graduate degrees, and all are able to develop courses and resources to enhance the students’ learning.

Faculty Accessibility
Western Governors University is receiving the award for most accessible faculty in a school offering an online bachelor’s degree in early childhood education. Western Governors prides itself on providing a student-centered approach to education. Their faculty works to develop courses that will benefit the learning process, and they make themselves readily available to their students to provide any kind of support they may need. Student mentors and course mentors will work with each student and be available to offer support and assistance from the day a student enrolls to the day they graduate.

Alumni Engagement
Ashford University is being given the award for best alumni engagement in a school offering an online bachelor’s degree in early childhood education. Ashford’s alumni association will hold regular events, allowing alumni, students, and faculty to meet, socialize, and expand their professional networks. Alumni can also interact through the university’s multiple social media accounts, and they can know what’s happening at Ashford through their alumni magazine. Alumni also receive a variety of benefits and discounts on things like travel, consumer products, and rental vehicles.

Prior Learning Options
The award for best prior learning options in a school offering an online bachelor’s degree in early childhood education goes to Ashford University. They will accept eligible previously earned college credits and apply them to the degree being pursued by the student. Ashford will also award non-traditional credits based on life and professional experience and military training, as well as a student’s score on the College Level Examination Program.

New Online Student Orientation
The award for new student orientation in a school offering an online bachelor’s degree in early childhood education goes to Ashford University. Each student will have an academic advisor assigned to them to introduce them to the online learning environment, guide them through the process of learning online, routinely check on their academic progress, and regularly contact them to make sure they’re doing fine and aren’t having any issues. New students will be required to complete an online course that familiarizes them with learning online and prepares them for the challenging courses ahead.

Explore a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education

An online degree in early childhood education is a good fit for students who connect well with young children and who primarily want to teach or work with children under the age of 5. Early childhood education focuses on learning through playing, and on equipping young children with the foundational learning and social skills they need to excel when they transition into kindergarten. Online programs in early childhood education teach students how to create learning programs that are developmentally appropriate for young children, such as pre-reading programs where children learn letters, letter sounds, and the blending of sounds and words. Since early childhood educators typically work with preschool-aged children, many programs do not lead to teacher certification.

Online bachelor’s degree programs in early childhood education can be completed in four years if a student is enrolled full-time and the program follows a traditional semester school year. Accelerated programs, which tend to incorporate terms or modules, may allow students to complete their degree in less time. Program length also depends on how many prior credits a student brings into the program from course work completed at other colleges or AP courses completed in high school. Hybrid, or blended, programs are also available for students who wish to receive a portion of their instruction in a traditional college classroom while completing the majority of their course work online.

Class Curriculum

Students seeking online early childhood education degrees start out taking general education courses in communication, mathematics, the physical and social sciences, and the arts and humanities. From here, their course work may include child health and safety, educational psychology, family dynamics and community relationships, and play and learning for preschool children. Other courses will be shaped by their specialization, which could range from childhood nutrition to infants and toddlers to English as a Second Language (ESL). In general, however, students often take the following major courses:

  • Early Childhood Development. This course explores how children develop physically, cognitively, emotionally, and socially from birth through early childhood. Students examine methods of building a positive self-image in young children as well as how children develop motor skills. Emphasis is often placed on language development in children.
  • Early Childhood Curriculum Planning. In this course, students learn effective instructional planning and evaluation strategies for young children, including planning for daily, weekly, and long-term instruction. The course also touches on creative learning activities that help children along in the learning process, using age-appropriate methods and materials.
  • Observation and Assessment of the Young Child. This course introduces students to techniques they can use to assess at-risk children and children who exhibit signs of special needs. Students learn how to measure a child’s development and the tools typically used in assessment.

Students complete a wide range of homework assignments and projects in an online early childhood education degree program. Students may be asked to write out educational activity and lesson plans for different age groups, such as infants and toddlers, or four- and five-year-olds, drawing from what they have learned in class. Students may also be asked to complete field work for their courses, where they gain hands-on skills in instruction, play learning, and assessment. Many programs also require an internship, or practicum, where students gain teaching experience in preschools or other early childhood education settings.

Building a Career

Some of the most fitting careers for people with a background in early childhood education are preschool teachers, preschool and childcare center directors, and childcare workers. Preschool teachers go beyond the role of babysitter to teach age-appropriate curriculum and organize educational activities that facilitate learning. While it is possible to enter the field of preschool teaching with only a high school diploma and certification in early childhood education, postsecondary education may be preferred by many employers.

A minimum of an associate degree is currently required for preschool teaching positions with Head Start, but there is a push for the program to increase the number of preschool teachers with bachelor’s degrees in early childhood education, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In addition, preschool teacher positions at public schools also typically require a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education or a similar field.

Preschool and childcare center directors are in charge of early childhood education operations, leading and directing child care staff, and overseeing the business side of preschools.

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