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Educational Studies: Early Childhood Development, B.A.

Why choose our Educational Studies: Early Childhood Development degree?

Saint Leo’s BA in Educational Studies with specialization in Early Childhood Development and Education prepares graduates with conceptual and practical skills needed to design, implement, and evaluate educational experiences in traditional contexts and a variety of other environments. The primary goal of this program is to provide a curriculum for graduates to make a positive impact on learning environments and outcomes for both children and adult learners.

This hands-on program prepares individuals who want to deepen their understanding of the learning and teaching processes, yet may choose to seek careers in non-traditional education settings that do not require state licensure. Graduates will have the ability to effectively work with children, parents, families, and communities in a variety of settings.

Moreover, students will actively make connections between subject area content and real-world application through fieldwork in early childhood settings. Opportunities to observe, participate, and teach in early childhood settings and various community organizations working with young children, provide students an opportunity to link their course work to real-world environments.

Instructors for this bachelor’s degree program come from a wide range of backgrounds and have a wealth of practical experience in early education settings, allowing them to communicate this valuable practice to students. Small class sizes offer personal attention from instructors, enabling students to flourish in an online environment and gain top-notch skills to work in various educational settings.


 

 

Availability

The B.A. Educational Studies: Early Childhood Development degree is offered online. Program extension to university campus and/or education centers as warranted.


Accreditation

Saint Leo University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).


Program Features: What Makes Saint Leo Different?

Saint Leo is Florida’s oldest Catholic institution of higher education. The Undergraduate Education program in the College of Education and Social Services has received national recognition for its comprehensive curriculum, extensive field experiences and values-based instruction. In 2011, the department was named a national finalist for the Distinguished Program in Teacher Education Award, presented by the Association of Teacher Educators. In 2014 the American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education recognized Saint Leo's Education Department for its "Innovative use of technology". And, according to a recent survey, between 92-98% of school principals who've had a Saint Leo grad and first-year teacher at their school report that they'd provide a positive recommendation for hiring. Another reason to choose Saint Leo- In the past 10 years more than 60 Saint Leo University graduates have become "Teachers of the Year" in their local schools and districts!

Early childhood education serving children ages birth through five has increased significantly over recent decades due to shifts in educational structures, brain research, cultural and language dynamics, technology enhancements, and family structures. Due to the increase demand for early education, there is a need for professionals to work with young children in a variety of early learning settings.

The Educational Studies: Early Childhood Development specialization prepares its graduates with knowledge of self, students, context, setting, pedagogy and content. Graduates are prepared with conceptual and practical skills needed to design, implement, and evaluate educational experiences in contexts beyond traditional classrooms. Coursework aligns with the Florida Educator Accomplished Practices, Florida Teacher Standards Birth through 4, and the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Professional Preparation Standards. Throughout the program, students explore learning theories and various influences upon education including context, culture, and individual learner characteristics. They learn and practice skills through collaborative and interdisciplinary study, experiential learning, and Saint Leo University’s Core Values. They learn to lead instruction, and make informed, evidence-based decisions that support diverse learners in a range of learning and organizational contexts. Students apply key skills from coursework complementary to the early learning fields.


Learning Outcomes

  • Knowing students as learners: Using knowledge of learning and development theories and learners’ characteristics, learning preferences, experience, and motivation, to inform appropriate practices.
  • Appropriate and professional teaching practices: Cultivating a culture of high expectations; Practicing informed, targeted, and reflective instruction; Facilitating a community of learners; and Assessing learning in a variety of ways towards continuous improvement in teaching and learning.
  • Developing and demonstrating a reflective mindset, and habits of effective communication, collaboration, critical thinking, creativity, professional practice, ethics, and ethos.
  • Evidence-based decision-making: Integrating the discovery, analysis, and use of evidenced-based literature, successful practices, and data, to inform educational practice.
  • Inquiry and professional growth: Promoting curiosity among students; Making inquiry a central part of teaching practice; Seeking professional growth opportunities and applying new learning to educational practice.

Course Highlights

The Early Childhood courses at Saint Leo include a combination of content and application components. Assessment, Creative Arts, Home and Community, Health & Wellness, and Curriculum Foundations provide program participants with foundational information needed to work with young children. Early Childhood methods courses include Literacy, Math & Science, and Children’s Literature. ESOL strategies, Human Exceptionality, Play as Pedagogy, Child Guidance and Classroom Management, Social Justice, Faith, and Values, Brain Based Learning, Special Topics, and 21st Century Learners enhance the foundational and content course instruction within the program.

The program was designed to prepare students with the content and teaching practices that will provide them with foundational components of early childhood education theory and application. Whether students seek employment in traditional classroom settings, or pursue related positions in the field, the coursework in the program comprehensively prepares them to work within early childhood environments.

Foundational courses prepare students with the skills and teaching strategies needed for working with young children from birth to five years of age. Working with young children also requires understanding of how to address their cognitive, social, emotional, and physical development. Developmentally appropriate teaching is at the core of the early childhood program. Coursework is designed to highlight developmentally appropriate practices (DAP) through modeling, planning, and implementing strategies that are appropriate for the early learner.

Courses such as Play as Pedagogy demonstrate approaches to implement age-appropriate experiences through developmentally appropriate play and practices. A unique course in the program encompasses STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) which has rapidly shifted into the forefront of education. Although STEM education is widespread through the K-12 education system, it has the ability to be modified to meet the needs of early learners. In the early childhood program, we have expanded STEM content to include reading, religion, and the arts. Program developers strongly support the integration of content areas to best address students’ needs. Through the STR2EAM course, students will learn ways to integrate these subject areas to help young children learn and enjoy the educational process. This course is unique to early childhood programs as there is also an emphasis on religion in education.

As a private Catholic institution, it is a fundamental belief that our religious values and pedagogy are reflected within the coursework. Students enrolled in the program have flexibility within many courses to focus on religious aspects of the assignment if they elect, this allows students to take ownership and accountability for their own learning.

Students enrolled in the program have the opportunity to participate and interact with 21st century technologies. Courses are infused with digital communication platforms, website applications for individual and group presentations, and instructional resources to enhance students’ learning. The Mursion virtual reality platform will be utilized to provide students opportunities to develop their teaching abilities in safe, non-judgmental environments. Students will present lessons, discuss early childhood topics, and present information on foundational skills to virtual reality avatar children, parents, and community members.


Degree Requirements

EDUCATIONAL STUDIES: EARLY CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT (120 CREDITS)
University Explorations: 42 Credits
Specialization/Major (listed below): 60 Credits
Electives: 18 Credits

Common Body of Knowledge Early Childhood Development & Education Courses
Literacy Foundation Child Guidance and Classroom Management for Young Children
Curriculum Foundations Literacy Foundations for Young Children
Classroom Management Early Childhood Growth and Development
Math for Early Learners Foundations of Curriculum and Instruction
Science for Early Learners Human Exceptionality
ESOL Foundations of Cross Cultural Communications and Applied Linguistics
Social and Emotional Development Emergent Literacy for Young Children
Social Studies for Early Learners Integrated Math and Science in Early Childhood Education
Brain Based Learning Early Childhood Health and Wellness
Assessment Play as Pedagogy
ESE Creative Arts for Young Children
Health and Wellness Observing, Assessing, and Instructional Planning for Young Children
STREAM Education STR2EAM in Early Childhood
Parent and Community Involvement Children’s Literature
  21st Century Implications for Education
  Interdisciplinary Creative Photovoice
  Brain Based Learning in the Digital Age
  Social Justice, Faith, and Values in Early Learning
  Home and Community Relations
  Final Internship and Seminar

Professional Development Opportunities

Professional development opportunities include:

  • Internships: Within early learning settings, students will learn the practical teaching experiences while working with young children while developing their ethical responsibilities as practitioners. Students will be responsible for securing their own fieldwork placement and submit placement information to course instructor each semester.
  • Research: Work with faculty on research and present at conferences
  • Guest Speakers: Meet recruiters, alumni, and professionals working in the field.
  • Professional Development: Attend conferences, workshops, and seminars to further develop teaching pedagogy and efficacy.
  • Co-curricular activities: Join the Early Learning Club, which has quarterly meetings that meet virtually.
  • Career-ready prep: Learn essential skills such as resume writing, presenting, and interviewing with early childhood administrators and personnel.

What can you do with a Bachelor's Degree in Early Childhood Development?

Most program graduates seek employment positions in profit, and not-for-profit educational settings. Career paths may include:

  • Community Outreach Programmers for Children and Families (Preschool Services, Literacy Programs, Parks and Recreation Programs, etc.)
  • Programs for Children and Youth (YMCA, Boys & Girls Club, Sports Programs, etc.)
  • Not-for-profits (Homeless/Transitional Programs, Programs for At-risk Children and Youth, etc.)
  • For Profit or Non-for-profit Early Learning Institutions
  • Entrepreneurial (Start up After School Program, Child Care, Youth Leadership Program, Tutoring, etc.)

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