Got a way with kids? Or maybe you just like the thought of shaping the minds of our future generation! The first years of our lives, after all, are the most important and lay the foundation for our physical, mental, and emotional well-being. So maybe you’ve got a future in early child education or development? What kinds of careers can you look out for next? Here’s a handy list, for starters!
What is Early Child Education / Development?
Both fields cover early learners—infants to children around 8 years old. That is, how they learn and understand, the changes they go through, how children grow, and how they can improve.
To differentiate: Early Child Education is a branch of education and is often a track or course under most university programs. This branch of education deals, more specifically, with training teachers and their behavior toward early learners and their community.
Meanwhile, Early Child Development is a broader or larger field used to describe areas relating to research, science, relationships, among others about the developing mind of young learners. In other words, Early Child Development can be more interdisciplinary since it covers a lot more bases: psychology, biology, medicine, social sciences, and more.
Now, what careers can you expect to get into?
Has anyone ever told you that you’re good with kids? Do you have a passion for teaching, particularly little ones? Then maybe becoming a preschool teacher is for you! It’s all about creating a safe and nurturing environment so that early learners can transition into the educational system. You’ll be monitoring the kids’ behavior and teaching them early social, intellectual, and emotional skills.
Besides communication and organization skills, patience is a must!
Early Childhood Special Education
Children all grow and develop at a different pace, and that’s totally normal! Some have different needs that go beyond standardized educational methods. That’s where special education teachers come in, to give these children a safe and structured environment to grow. A special education teacher might work with children on the autism spectrum or those with learning disabilities.
Another important part of your job is also working with parents and caretakers to reinforce healthy development at home. So creativity, empathy, interpersonal skills are just as important as your knowledge of childhood development.
Childcare Center Director
Down the line, you might want to think of setting up a childcare center to foster a healthy and safe environment for early learners. Childcare Center Directors combine administrative duties with their knowledge of childhood development to run the daily operations of, say, a preschool or a daycare. They oversee curriculum creation, hiring and training teachers, budgets for the facilities, and maintaining a good relationship with parents and other stakeholders.
You could set up your own space or work in private or public institutions. But definitely, coordination and organization, leadership, administration, and time management skills are what you gotta work on.
Child Psychologist / Counselor
When most people think of mental illness, they think of adults. But children are just as susceptible psychological distress too. Because children think, grow, and develop differently, the training and approach of a child counselor or psychologist is much different. Often, child psychologists deal with explaining difficult concepts to children in ways they can understand. So a bit of creativity, critical thinking, analysis, and most definitely communication skills are your strong suit here.
Child Welfare and Social Services
This might also be another career path worth considering if you want a high-impact career. The government often deploys social workers who ensure the rights and well-being of children, especially in vulnerable sectors of the population. Child welfare workers coordinate programs and oversee cases involving neglected, abused, and disadvantaged children. It’s a tough but much-needed profession that ensures every child’s right to a healthy upbringing.
A career in early child education isn’t just limited to teaching early learners. There’s still the important task of educating the adults that raise them. So if you’ve still got the heart for helping the young, but kids aren’t really your forté, consider parent education.
You may get to work on childcare programs and community development, doing home visits or coaching parents on child support, and connecting them to community resources. Parent educators often work for schools, treatment facilities, and organizations. You’ll need a vast knowledge of child development and care, counseling, parenting techniques.