Being an early childhood education (ECE) professional presents you with the opportunity to significantly impact the lives of young children and their families meaningfully. It is increasingly being recognized across the world as a key profession.
What is early childhood education?
ECE represents any form of educational and formal care of children from infancy to age eight. Early childhood educators may also work with children outside of the conventional preschool setting, even though the term typically refers to the education that occurs in a child's life during the preschool years before they reach kindergarten age.
As the early years of a child are the most crucial, early childhood education curriculum is often designed to help children develop vital cognitive, social, and physical capacities setting them up for future success in their lives. Children also learn to develop the necessary skills to be kindergarten-ready during. This is why ECE educators play a crucial role in the lives of children because what they do lays the foundations for learning and development that impacts them far into the latter stages of their lives and through into adulthood.
If you are keen to be an agent of change in children’s lives and pursue a degree in ECE s, here are seven ECE career pathways along with their typical job description that the degree offers.
- Childcare provider
Childcare providers interact with children outside the typical classroom. Just like preschool teachers, childcare providers design a schedule of learning, play, and nutrition which help children develop social skills and get them ready for formal schooling. This could occur in before- or after-school programmes, in-home daycares, or children's camps.
To best ensure that children continue to develop, learn, and grow, childcare providers also frequently connect with teachers directly.
- Preschool teacher
A preschool teacher encourages discovery and exploration in the crucial formative years of a child's growth. To get children ready for the next stage of education before primary school, they teach them the fundamentals of numeracy and literacy as well as socio-emotional competencies and social skills. Enjoyable and educational activities are often planned in a typical day of learning, such that learning and development take place through play and engaging activities. Each child's progress is monitored by preschool teachers, so that every child takes part in group activities which inculcate values such as respect, and collaborative skills.
- Kindergarten teacher
Kindergarten teachers build on the learning that children acquire at preschool.. Lesson planning, scheduling, and monitoring individual student development are among their daily tasks. Kindergarten teachers also oversee the academic, social and emotional development of children under their care to prepare them for primary school educationensure that their students safely transition from class to recess, to library session to play time, kindergarten educators maintain close supervision of the children under their care.
Children who do not attend daycare centres are cared for at home under the supervision of a full-time caregiver. While some caregivers work with just one client at a time while living in their homes, others may have numerous clients and switch between them as needed.
Play and mealtime are some of the kinds of activities that caregivers supervise and organise. Some caregivers also assist children with their schoolwork and other learning activities. In addition to that, a live-in caregiver's duties may also include cooking, cleaning, food shopping, and picking up and dropping off the children at school.
- Special education teacher
Special education (SPED) teachers work with students who have a range of cognitive, emotional, physical, or academic needs. As a special education teacher, a child's special needs are frequently taken into account while designing their everyday lessons. Typical duties involve evaluating students’ abilities, deciding on the kinds of engagement they require, and organising specific activities to aid learning.
To help with their students’ progress from one grade to the next, SPED teachers create individualised educational programmes (IEPs), which are codified plans that are discussed with the children’s’ parents, teachers, and the school administrators.
As SPED teachers require particular dispositions and pedagogical skills, ECE graduates who also aspire to be SPED teachers are required to complete the Diploma in Special Education (DISE) programme conducted by the National Institute of Education and fully funded by Ministry of Education (MOE). The graduates’ ECE employers will assess a candidate’s suitability during their untrained teaching stint and nominate them for the DISE programme.
Source: Ministry of Education Singapore
- School counsellor
Outside of the classroom, a school counsellor helps students’ socio-emotional development . While duties vary depending on age groups, counsellors who work in early childhood education (ECE) place a strong emphasis on development abilities like decision-making, self-regulation, time management, acceptable social behaviour, and conflict resolution. A school counsellor is often also required to meet with children one-on-one or in small groups to determine and address problems that affect their academic performance, frequently working with the students' teachers and parents to find solution.
- Education consultant
An education consultant works with childcare providers to design policies and programmes that best serve the needs of children. They employ the abilities gained from an ECE degree to support child development by offering their expertise to support the design and creation of conducive learning environments and to encourage positive interactions with parents and families.
What is the next step?
Interested in pursuing a career dedicated to shaping the minds and lives of children? Congratulations! As an ECE student you will learn about the various aspects of the development and education of children from birth (infancy) to age eight. This includes learning early childhood pedagogies in the various domains and educational psychology as well as the sociology of education, equipping you to be able to pursue any of the career pathways above.
The Bachelor of Early Childhood Education programme at James Cook University, Singapore, offers you the opportunity to not only acquire the professional knowledge needed, but to also experience 120 days of workplace learning in a range of early childhood (preschool) and school settings. James Cook University, Singapore, builds on our stakeholder partnerships to organise such student internships at a variety of preschools.
To learn more about the Bachelor of Early Childhood Education undergraduate programme at James Cook University, Singapore, just get in touch with us or call +65 6709 3888. We would love to hear from you!