Early Childhood Education
The Early Childhood Education major leads to certification in Illinois to work with children from birth through grade three. Graduates of the WIU Early Childhood Education program also earn the early childhood special education approval in Illinois. Candidates who complete WIU’s Early Childhood Education program are highly knowledgeable, reflective teachers committed to creating positive learning communities and using research-based strategies that enable all children to be successful.
Program Coursework and Field Experiences
In addition to specific general education coursework, candidates complete numerous courses in the major that provide opportunities to develop the knowledge and skills that will enable them to be successful teachers.Early Childhood Education majors complete specific coursework focusing on the pre-primary curriculum as well as each of the content areas in the primary classroom. Candidates complete four literacy courses that fully prepare them to develop young children’s literacy skills.
Candidates observe children during the freshman and sophomore years of the program. During the junior year, they visit childcare centers and provide assistance in local classrooms. In preparation for student teaching, candidates teach half days for fourteen weeks in a preprimary and a primary setting during the first semester of the senior year. The program concludes with a sixteen-week student teaching experience with eight weeks in a preprimary setting and eight weeks in a primary classroom. In both the senior field experience and student teaching, candidates complete a teacher work sample to document their ability to positively impact student learning.
WIU’s teacher education programs are accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). The Early Childhood Education program is nationally recognized by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). Through the completion of required coursework, field experiences, and student teaching, candidates develop the competencies delineated in state and professional teaching standards.
Graduates are employed as teachers in pre-primary and primary classrooms as well as private preschool centers. Candidates are qualified to teach in pre-kindergarten special education classrooms. Some become directors of preschool centers.
Why Choose Early Childhood Education at WIU
We prepare candidates to meet the highest standards in teaching. Candidates graduating from the Early Childhood Education program are empowered teachers who are, in turn, able to empower the children with whom they work. We emphasize the development of the knowledge, skills, and dispositions needed to enhance and motivate student learning.
The strength of the Early Childhood Education program at WIU is the number of major courses and field experiences candidates complete that prepare them to teach and work with children. Through this program, future early childhood teachers
- Acquire knowledge of the content they will teach and techniques to make the content meaningful for all students;
- Learn to identify appropriate curriculum for children;
- Develop an understanding of the unique characteristics and needs of diverse learners;
- Learn to use research-based teaching practices to promote the growth, development, learning, and potential of each child;
- Gain experience in the use of research-based principles to plan effective instruction, integrate technology in instruction, assess children’s learning, and create and maintain positive, safe learning environments;
- Use professional dispositions, including those that promote fairness and reflect the belief that all individuals can be empowered to learn, to positively impact student learning; and
- Reflect upon and continually improve their teaching.
Courses in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction are taught by full-time faculty, most of whom have a doctorate degree in their field. Our faculty have taught in a variety of public and privates school settings and have been recognized for their excellence in teaching, scholarship, and use of technology in the college classroom. Faculty are actively involved in a variety of professional organizations, provide continuing education workshops for teachers, and publish books and articles in state, national and international journals.
The Early Childhood Education program emphasizes the importance of knowledge, commitment, action, and reflection in becoming an effective teacher. Department faculty provide experiences that enable candidates to develop the knowledge, skills, and dispositions needed to become skilled, competent, and creative teachers who are able to facilitate children’s learning. The individual assistance that faculty provide candidates ensures this goal is achieved.