Grade 15 - Human Services

Early Childhood Development & Services (Credit: 0.50)

Early Childhood Development (ECD) is an introductory course offering a detailed overview of both developmental stages and areas of early childhood, and how early childhood education professionals provide optimal assistance during these important years of growth and learning. An examination of the history, theories, teaching models, research, and policies that grew with the advance of early childhood education, as well as an introduction to the achievements of many leaders in this field, provide students a thorough grounding in the science and practice of early childhood education. This course further provides students with keen insight into why these years are so important to the life of the child, what areas of physical, emotional, and cognitive development are manifested from birth through age five, and what developmentally appropriate practices are proving to be most effective.

Students will see how state, county, and community programs and non-profit social service organizations benefit from a combination of contributions and regional and federal funding mandated through national legislation; students will also appreciate the role ECE professionals play in their work with families, organizations, and licensing administrators. Students will be able to identify the advances, the challenges, the results, and the trends in ECE, explore a wide spectrum of professional possibilities, and learn the requirements and responsibilities of those positions. The complex interaction of state and federal policymaking on program funding and availability is covered in depth, as are codes of ethics and legislation affecting the quality of preschool and kindergarten programs.

Diversity is a key topic, and inclusion of families and children of cultural, economic, linguistic, and ethnic and ability diverse backgrounds are covered in depth. The rights, programs, and services available for children with disabilities and their families are reviewed. As the areas of study show, the need for highly qualified, engaged professionals in preschool classrooms, child care centers, and school readiness programs is growing. Teachers and other professionals in the field need to be not only educated in ECD, but also adept at building positive relationships between teacher and child and parent and colleagues, with the sensitivity to, enthusiasm for, and awareness of diversity issues and developmentally appropriate practices requiring skill and ongoing training.

Through creative projects in each unit, leading to completion of the capstone project, students become the professionals they are studying to be, hypothetically designing preschool curricula, counseling parents and working with infants with disabilities in mental health home intervention visits, researching credentials and education pathways for careers, investigating state funding and licensure requirements for programs, and getting involved in advocacy for major issues in the field. This course prepares students to make more informed decisions about their education and career pathway possibilities, endowing them with a solid understanding of the field and its importance in the well-being and success of not just a few young children and their families but of society and future generations.