By: Lauren Perrodin

Children’s minds are like sponges — especially from the time of their birth to the age of five. Early childhood education (ECE), when taught by a highly capable teacher, can change the course of a child’s future academically and socially.

Teachers lay the groundwork for the upcoming workforce of the country. We will highlight what this type of education entails and what it takes to engage children in early childhood studies.

What Is Early Childhood Education and Why Does It Matter?

A child’s brain develops faster in the first five years of their life than at any other time, making these precious years vital in developing who they may become going forward. A child will develop their social skills, how they see the world, their self-esteem, and likes and dislikes.

Quality ECE curriculum includes opportunities for children to experience the world around them and learn from lessons that will help them develop into upstanding citizens. Activities ranging from singing and art to music and nature adventures are just a few of the things an ECE educator can include.

Children who receive education before kindergarten are more likely to have enhanced:

  • Speaking and language skills.
  • Self-control.
  • Critical thinking.
  • Self-confidence.

These abilities prosper through their environment and social interactions. The more a child is socialized in positive environments, the more likely they are to develop healthy habits later in life.

A primary teaching tool of ECE is the art of play. Educators teach children valuable lessons through playing, collaborating and sharing space with other people outside of their families.

According to the National Education Association (NEA), children that engage in ECE can benefit from:

  • More preparedness for kindergarten and beyond.
  • High earning potential as adults.
  • Pursuing a high school diploma and higher education.
  • Healthy brain function and development.

The short- and long-term benefits of ECE can help ensure that children have a better chance of success long into adulthood.

Is This a Career That’s Right for You?

Being an ECE teacher involves completing an ECE program and showing genuine interest in supporting child education.

If you are patient, dedicated and sensitive to the needs of others, and have an energetic spirit, then you already embody some of the key qualities necessary for teaching ECE. Children bring out the best in many and can challenge you at the same time. You could be the first person outside of their family that the child has ever met. This can mean you could have a significant impact on their core memories.

Children and parents may have difficulty separating from one another while the child could be interacting with other kids their age for the first time as well. Many dynamic changes are happening at the same time, and teachers will need to handle these situations with care and patience.

Taking a Page From an Alum

Ana Lorena Kanagui Leal came to the U.S. with a dream to teach. She wanted to work with children and knew that was in her future.

“In early 2000, I decided to open up my home-based child care center with the help of a good friend. Now, I have been a childcare provider for more than 20 years, offering services to hundreds of families who have sought quality care. But I have never lost sight of my dream of one day getting my United States teaching credential.”

Enter UCR University Extension’s Academic Director of Child and Adolescent Development. Dr. Guillermina Hernandez served advice and guidance to Ana while she was taking various professional development courses.

“Through Dr. Guillermina, I have been able to work toward fulfilling my dream of obtaining units in child development, bringing me closer to my dream of being a professional, credentialed teacher."

How To Get Started in ECE

Although the education expectations are high for ECE teachers, we’re here to help you.

These programs include:

All three of these outstanding professional certificate programs can give you the chance to make an impact on young children before they enter the California K-12 system. Learn more and enroll today!