Early childhood is the period in which children develop the cognitive and social skills that will carry them into adulthood. Early childhood development (ECD) programs aim to contribute to children's personal and educational performance by seeking to lower dropout rates and lower likelihoods of repeating grade levels or being placed in special education.

Skills taught in childhood development courses

Primary skills

  • Communication: Careers in early childhood development require that individuals be exceptionally strong communicators, as they must often convey important information to parents and also communicate well with children and colleagues. ECD programs often ensure that students' communication skills are up to par early on.
  • Early Childhood Development: ECD courses typically teach students about the developmental stages through which children progress, including which issues they're likely to face at each stage, which milestones they should hit when and which strategies are effective at each stage of development. This knowledge can apply to roles involving early childhood development, including teaching, administration, counseling and social work.
  • Child safety, nutrition and health: These courses teach students about common illnesses affecting children, nutrition guidelines for healthy children as well as children with allergies or chronic diseases and common safety issues involving children. Courses also cover how to teach children and their parents or caregivers about healthy eating habits.

Secondary skills

Different career training programs will offer different course content, but the following are a few subjects likely to appear in an early childhood development curriculum:

  • Early childhood curriculum planning
  • Children with disabilities or special needs
  • Language and literacy
  • Multicultural education
  • Early childhood policy and advocacy

Applications of early childhood development skills

Some skills, like early childhood curriculum planning or early childhood policy, are relevant to roles in the early childhood education field. However, most of these courses impart skills that have the potential to be useful in various fields.

Early childhood development courses, courses about children with special needs and language and literacy courses could be beneficial for professionals in education-related fields, but also for social workers, counselors, nonprofit workers or any other professional who comes in contact with children or families. Courses in childhood nutrition and safety can be relevant to roles in the health care field or for educators.

"Childcare Workers," U.S. Department of Labor Statistics, June 24, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/personal-care-and-service/childcare-workers.htm
"Social Workers," U.S. Department of Labor Statistics, June 24, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/social-workers.htm
"Education, Training, and Library Occupations," June 24, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/home.htm

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