Elementary education programs prepare individuals to work with students in grades K-6, however, these programs are not typically found at the associate's degree level. Students seeking an online 2-year program in education can consider enrolling in an early childhood education program instead. These 2-year programs often focus on preparing students to work with preschoolers or infants and toddlers, but some programs may include coursework for working with children from birth through third grade.
In online associate's degree programs, students take several general education courses in areas such as composition and humanities to help sharpen their writing and critical thinking skills. Subject-matter courses like working with special needs children and language development are also part of the curriculum. While these programs allow students to complete all of their coursework online, some programs also require distance-learning students to complete practical experiences at local educational sites.
Throughout their course of study, students learn some fundamental teaching principles by taking classes such as the following:
- Literacy in early childhood education
- Child development
- Classroom development
- Cross-cultural studies
- Professional behavior in early childhood education
- Child psychology
- Educational technology
Online programs allow students to view lectures and course materials, submit assignments and take exams online. They may also participate in chat rooms and interact with other participants or professors through the Internet. Online students are typically required to have access to an updated computer with Internet access as well as software programs, like Microsoft Office or Java. Some programs may also require online students to have a webcam, microphone or headset.
Students who complete associate's degrees program in early childhood education may pursue careers as preschool teachers, teaching assistants, Head Start teachers or infant/toddler specialists. Licensure and certification requirements vary by job title and state. In many states, childcare workers are required to earn the Child Development Associate (CDA) certification awarded by the Council for Professional Recognition or the Child Care Professional (CCP) designation offered by the National Early Childhood Program Accreditation. These certifications typically require one to meet specific education and experience requirements as well as pass an exam. Preschool teachers who work in public schools are also required to earn state licensure.
Continuing Education Information
Individuals who wish to teach in elementary schools must have at least a bachelor's degree, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Graduates of an associate's degree program may continue their education by enrolling in a bachelor's degree in elementary education, which can be found as both online and on-campus programs. Online programs in elementary education typically require student teaching or fieldwork assignments that must be completed at an approved educational facility. After completing an approved education program and supervised teaching experience, prospective elementary school teachers must also earn state licensure or certification by passing an exam before they can teach in a public school.
As there are not many elementary education programs found at the associate's level, students can choose to complete an early childhood education program that is available online at the associate's level. Through this program, students study literacy in early childhood education, child development, child psychology, and classroom development to prepare them for a career in teaching.