Online Early Child Education (ECE) Courses Overview

The field of early childhood education (ECE) focuses on the educational and developmental needs of children from birth through age eight. Online courses in this field are available through many postsecondary institutions.

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Online Courses in Early Child Education

These are the course descriptions of commonly offered online ECE courses.

  • Early Childhood Education Introductory Course: This course provides an overview of pre-school and early primary learning and covers concepts, methods and materials for developing creative arts and manipulative play programs, age-appropriate language and literacy. Students are introduced to the career options available to ECE professionals and given opportunities to apply their skills in local child care venues.
  • Early Childhood Language and Literacy Course: Students survey contemporary and traditional literature for children in the form of poetry, fairy tales, picture books and non-fiction designed for early readers. The class analyzes the developmental stages of language and literacy. Basic college-level English courses may be a prerequisite.
  • Child Psychology Course: An exploratory course on the scientific research and concepts surrounding human physical, psychological, social and cognitive development from conception through the onset of puberty, this course includes topics in in-utero influences, birth, language development and early communication. Students examine the effect of various parenting styles, attachment and child abuse on early development. An introductory psychology course may be a prerequisite to enrolling in this class.
  • Special Needs Education Course: Students learn about the theories and methods for assisting children with specific physical, learning and developmental challenges in a group setting. The course identifies state mandates and federal regulations regarding individuals with disabilities in education settings and reviews the role of parents and other caregivers in planning special needs curricula. A prerequisite may be a course in child development.
  • Program Development Course: This course presents the techniques and resources used in developing appropriate early education programs. Topics may include expressive arts, such as music, dance, arts, crafts, storytelling, and science. Students have opportunities for on-site observation and hands-on practice at local child care sites.
  • Early Childhood Program Administration Course: Students study methods for developing and delivering educational programs in early childhood education settings. Classes explore the philosophies and common policies utilized in setting up successful programs, including staffing, financial operations, equipment and safety. Emphasis is placed on developmentally appropriate programs, proper nutrition, assessment and reporting.
  • Children's Literature Course: In this course, students examine children's literature and learn how to select different genres to help achieve select teaching goals. The emphasis is on both the importance of children developing early reading skills and on utilizing literature to support early childhood learning in all subject areas.
  • Health, Safety and Nutrition Course: In this course, aspiring teachers learn how to help young children develop lifelong healthy habits. Topics include injury prevention, diet and exercise.
  • Preschool Teaching Course: This course focuses specifically on teaching children who are 3 to 5 years old. Aspiring teachers learn about the learning capacity and developmental milestones of children within this age group, and how to provide a safe and effective educational atmosphere for these students.

Program Information

Online ECE courses are typically part of associate's and bachelor's degree or certificate programs that prepare students for careers in the field. Although some ECE courses can be taken fully online, the practice teaching component of most programs must be completed in a classroom.

The liberal arts curriculum found in most ECE programs covers English, social studies, humanities and math, in addition to teaching techniques. Graduates should be eligible for licensure, which is required in most states. ECE practitioners typically work in daycare centers, pre-schools and grade schools.

To prepare for a job working with children during early childhood, it can be helpful to take online courses that cover various aspects of early childhood education, including working with specific groups.

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