This chapter provides you with a broad introduction to the field of early childhood education. The five essential foundations include understanding child development, providing quality play experiences, guiding children's social and emotional development, working with parents and families, and understanding the importance of diversity in child growth and development.
This chapter also covers the different types of early childhood programs, including infant/toddler programs, preschool education, child care, programs for children with special needs, kindergarten, and primary education. The issue of who should pay for education is significant. The various options include programs for profit, federally funded programs, state and locally funded programs, corporate child care, military child care, and college/university supported programs.
This program also addresses the teaching in the early childhood classroom. An understanding of the teacher's role, responsibilities, and skills needed for teaching at this level will help you decide whether teaching is a good career choice for you. Different educational paths are available to those wanting to enter this field, including the CDA credential, an associate of arts degree in early childhood education from a community college, and a four-year bachelor's degree in early education. In addition, resources are available to assist teachers of young children in continued professional development. Early childhood educators have numerous professional organizations, journals, and reference materials available to assist them in professional development.