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June 20, 2017
Northwest Missouri State University students now have the opportunity to earn a teaching license with an endorsement in early childhood education by enrolling in the School of Education’s new Bachelor of Science degree program in early childhood education.
The license enables students to teach children from birth through the third grade in a variety of settings, including public and non-public schools, homes and other community programs.
The new early childhood program is designed to equip pre-service teachers with knowledge, strategies, skills and dispositions to teach children in age groups from infancy up to eight years old. Students also can earn an early childhood special education certificate with an additional six credits.
“Birth to third grade is a wide age range with distinct differences in the developmental needs of children within that range,” Dr. Pradnya Patet, associate professor of professional education, said. “Today, administrators recognize the importance of specialized training for those who want to teach in p-3 classrooms.
”Missouri kindergarten teachers are required to have an early childhood certification to teach. Research in the early childhood field continues to provide strong evidence for the long lasting impact that early development has on children’s lives. We literally hold the future of the world in our hands. Enrolling in this program will empower students to make a difference in the lives of our youngest generation.”
The bachelor’s degree program also offers a strengths-based approach in working with all children, including those with special needs and rights. In addition to coursework focused on child-centered and culturally sensitive practices, students participate in embedded field experiences with Northwest’s Horace Mann Laboratory School, its Phyllis and Richard Leet Center and partnering community settings. Combined, these learning experiences provide the basis from which theories about development, learning and curriculum come to life for students.
“Much as children learn by doing, teachers learn by teaching,” Patet said. “The value of multiple field experiences and practica is made visible through a graduating teacher’s self-efficacy, ability to reach out to students with diverse backgrounds and learning styles, and collaborate with all stakeholders involved in a child’s educational experience.”
Individually and as a cohort of learners, students learn an integrated approach to teaching and learning through constructivist curriculum practices and strategies that offer meaningful learning within diverse systems and settings. Opportunities to learn together as critical colleagues who further each other’s reflective thinking skills prepares students for professional collaboration in their future careers.
Northwest faculty note that, across the country, the importance of early childhood education continues to grow as studies indicate the long-term benefits that educational opportunities in the early years have on shaping a child’s future learning outcomes. Faculty focus on preparing childhood teachers, decision makers and intellectual and ethical leaders to create opportunities for learning that ensures the well-being of children and families in their communities and beyond.
The stand-alone major in early childhood earns students certification to teach birth through third grade. The major is required for students planning to teach kindergarten in Missouri, and it requires the completion of 129 credit hours, including Northwest Core requirements. Students wanting to specialize in teaching children with special needs may work toward an early childhood special education certificate with an additional six to nine credit hours.
All students studying majors in Northwest’s School of Education begin gaining experience in the classroom during their first day of coursework at the University. First-year students interact with professionals in the field and learn the operations of a classroom and effective teaching practices at all levels of education. During their sophomore and junior years, students participate in field and practicum experiences while studying child development. Students in their senior years participate in personalized capstone experiences and direct student teaching with supporting seminars and continuing professional learning communities focused on research, leadership and advocacy.
To learn more about Northwest’s Bachelor of Science degree program in early childhood education and the School of Education, visit www.nwmissouri.edu/education/.
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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Northwest Missouri State University
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