Candidates who wish to teach young children in prekindergarten, kindergarten, and Grades 1st to 3rd should major in early childhood education. This area of specialization combines the required general and professional coursework with exposure to a variety of educational settings, different professionals in the field, and a wide range of children at the early childhood school level. Candidates engage in field experiences that include observational site-visits, tutoring opportunities, two practicum placements, and a full-time student teaching experience. These field experiences are structured so that candidates have opportunities to apply what they learn in class to real teaching situations. (For more information on this see Field Experience).
Using Catholic University’s conceptual framework, this concentration emphasizes the development of a reflective stance towards teaching in early childhood settings. The ability to reflect independently on teaching practice and educational contexts is essential at this level. Early childhood school teachers typically spend the workday in one room with the same group of students. They are constantly engaged in student interactions, problem solving, and decision making with limited support available from other professionals or resources. These circumstances could result in isolated, routine, and haphazard behavior. Catholic University’s goal is to prepare dynamic, creative, and stimulating individuals who can overcome the institutional and occupational constraints that early childhood school teachers face and who are willing and able to collaborate with other professionals in order to satisfy the educational needs of every student under their care.
Concentration in early childhood education offers a combination of a strong liberal arts education, research and field-based professional preparation, an emphasis on computer literacy and technological awareness, and a commitment to serving children with special needs in multicultural classrooms. Additionally, early childhood education majors take two additional courses to prepare them for an early childhood education license in DC. In EDUC 341, Curriculum and Instruction in Early Childhood Education, candidates learn about content areas and instructional strategies in early childhood education including language arts, science, mathematics, social studies, art, and music. In EDUC 342, Models of Early Childhood Education, candidates learn about the history of and current issues in early childhood education with emphasis on different curricular approaches and on understanding young children's characteristics and needs in addition to multiple interacting influences on development and learning.
Early childhood education candidates' program of studies includes Catholic University’s general education requirements, professional education courses required by the certifying authorities in most states, and a teaching specialization. General education requirements fall under three cognate areas: social sciences, math/natural sciences, and humanities/literature. Catholic University has additional general education requirements in philosophy, religion, and foreign languages. This program generally takes candidates eight semesters to complete. Recommended courses are listed on the Program of Studies page.