Online Associate Degree in Childhood Education

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Updated November 17, 2021 is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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A childhood education associate degree qualifies graduates for positions in preschools, childcare centers, and community organizations. Entry-level positions often pay $25,000-$30,000 a year, while advanced positions offer higher salaries. Preschool and childcare center directors, for instance, earn a median annual salary of over $47,000, while speech-language pathologists earn $77,510. These positions, however, may require advanced degrees, licenses, or certifications.

A curriculum for childhood education helps students pursue careers in other fields. As an example, learners can use child development knowledge in social work positions after they earn a related degree and license. This page explores curriculum, careers, and professional organizations related to childhood education; it also considers transfer options for associate degree graduates.

What Will You Learn in an Online Childhood Education Associate Degree Program?

Top online associate childhood education degrees examine child development milestones for various learners, including special needs and gifted students. The curriculum also addresses child psychology and behavioral tendencies to help graduates build lesson plans that connect and motivate children at different developmental stages.

Degree-seekers explore the impact of community and family on development and learn strategies for teaching and designing curriculum. Departments may cover these methods by subject, such as social studies, math, and literature in early classrooms. Programs can also highlight the importance of creativity and physical exercise in childhood learning and address current research and problems in the field.

Common Courses

Children's Literature

Class requirements vary among programs; however, students often take this literature course to explore children's stories, books, and poems in relation to early childhood developmental stages. This information helps individuals choose age-appropriate literature for classrooms. Candidates also learn to construct assignments and foster discussions that increase children's literary understanding.

Introduction to Early Childhood Education

This course explores theories, research, and history of childhood education. Departments may cover government regulations and educational standards, as well as contemporary trends and issues in the field. Degree-seekers also study legal and ethical concerns and learn to adapt strategies for culturally diverse and special needs learners.

Language Development

Students examine child development and typical speaking milestones. This course provides tips for helping children master sounds. It may also address second language acquisition for non-native speakers and language development for special needs learners. Additional topics may include literacy and creative ways to teach children, such as acting.

Curriculum in Early Childhood Education

Students examine curriculum models, educational theories, and child development to build instructional plans that coincide with developmental milestones. Courses cover strategies for determining teaching methods for all classrooms, including culturally diverse and special needs environments. Departments may also explore less traditional teaching methods like cooking and play.

Child Development

Students in this course study different areas of child development, including cognitive, emotional, physical, and language milestones. Coursework also considers factors that impact child development, such as learning disorders and family involvement. The course illustrates how students can use this information in curriculum development and classroom management.

Core Skills

Accredited childhood education programs equip students with an understanding of child development and instructional techniques for children who are eight or younger. Candidates may explore lesson planning and curriculum development for specific subjects, such as social studies and math, and for children with diverse learning needs. Programs train future educators to observe students, assess learning approaches, maintain structured classrooms, and interact with other professionals for the child's benefit.

These processes require a variety of skills, including communication and research abilities. Students hone these skills through communication courses, research projects, and teaching practicums. Programs also emphasize problem-solving and organizational skills, along with encouraging creative thinking and empathy.

These skills apply to preschool and childcare careers, but they also benefit candidates in other industries. For instance, survey researchers can use observational, organizational, and communication skills to build surveys for nonprofit agencies. Furthermore, counselors with an understanding of child development can help children cope with grief. Businesses may also hire individuals to administer training. Like teaching, these positions involve lesson planning, lectures, and curriculum development.

Some of these careers require bachelor's degrees or higher, and they may call for licenses or certifications, even in the education industry. Elementary teachers, for instance, need a bachelor's and teaching certification, and instructional coordinators need a master's and work experience.

What Can You Do With an Associate Degree in Childhood Education?

The best online colleges for associate degrees in childhood education explore child development and build teaching expertise for careers in education. Students should consider professional options before choosing a college or university since factors such as licensure preparation and concentrations complement certain careers. A future reading specialist, for instance, would benefit from curriculum that focuses strongly on literacy.

The upcoming sections explore careers relevant to associate graduates. Candidates should note that advanced degrees and licenses can lead to more career opportunities, such as school counseling positions.

Potential Careers and Salaries

Candidates who earn a top online associate degree in childhood education qualify for careers that focus on education and community betterment. In particular, graduates can teach preschool, oversee nonprofit children's programs, and open childcares. Some early childhood careers may call for additional credentials. For example, elementary teaching positions typically require certification, and childcare owners must adhere to state safety and training standards.

The following chart provides an overview of requirements, salaries, and responsibilities for common associate-level childhood education careers. However, some organizations may prefer candidates with more advanced degrees for managerial careers.

Preschool and Childcare Center Directors

These directors make hiring and policy decisions for organizations and oversee employee training and manage finances. Additional responsibilities include considering state regulations and communicating with families about child needs. These positions typically require a bachelor's degree and work experience.

Average Annual Salary: $47,940

Preschool Teachers

Preschool teachers build lesson plans that encourage social, language, and cognitive development in children. Candidates may teach early learning concepts, such as counting, and assess children for indications of special needs. Preschool teachers often need an associate degree.

Average Annual Salary: $29,780

Teacher Assistants

Teacher assistants help manage classrooms by upholding rules, taking attendance, and preparing rooms for educational activities. These assistants may also work with children who struggle with coursework and act as field trip chaperones. Schools require at least two years of college experience for these positions.

Average Annual Salary: $26,970

Childcare Workers

Childcare workers provide meals and ensure the safety of children in their care. These workers may also guide toddlers on preschool concepts and assist older children with class assignments. Additional responsibilities may include building daily itineraries and changing diapers. Candidates with an associate degree may earn advanced positions in this environment.

Average Annual Salary: $23,240

Child and Youth Workers

Child and youth workers may plan and oversee child-centered programs that foster communication skills and social growth. These programs often involve physical and artistic activities. Responsibilities include tending to safety and disciplinary concerns. These positions may call for an associate degree.

Average Annual Salary: $34,651

What's Next After an Online Associate Degree in Childhood Education?

Graduates of online childhood education associate degree programs can enter the workforce immediately or earn a higher degree for advanced professions. Learners who pursue higher education should understand how transferring works between schools and degree levels, and what degree paths are available to associate degree-holders.

The following sections explore some of these possibilities; however, candidates should research similar bachelor's and graduate degrees since this article only covers a handful of options.

Transferring to a Four-Year Degree Program

Learners who complete an online associate degree in childhood education can transfer to a four-year program. Students who plan the transfer early can make the most use of their associate courses. For instance, community colleges often hold transfer agreements where graduates can transfer associate coursework to four-year state schools. However, four-year schools may label transfer classes as electives rather than major requirements if they offer no course equivalent. In this situation, advisors can guide candidates on which classes will earn major-related credits for more efficient use.

What Degrees Can You Pursue After Earning an Associate in Childhood Education?

Bachelor's degrees can complement career goals through licensure or certification preparation and specializations. Future teachers, for instance, can select licensure programs that relate to their preferred classroom type, such as a special education bachelor's. Candidates can also explore degrees that act as stepping stones toward advanced positions, such as a speech-language bachelor's.

Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education

Students examine psychology and development in early childhood, along with curriculum models and instructional strategies for early classrooms. Graduates may pursue teaching licensure or certification.

Bachelor of Science in Speech-Language and Communication Disorders

This degree builds on child development topics from education programs. In particular, degree-seekers study language and cognitive development for careers in healthcare, such as speech-language pathologists. These careers may require an advanced degree and a license.

Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Special Education

Departments guide learners on developing curriculum and lesson plans for children with various needs, such as autism. Programs may prepare degree-seekers for teaching licensure or certification for special education classrooms.

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