Early Childhood Education

Why Early Childhood Education?

  • You are passionate about helping young children from birth to second grade and about supporting their families
  • You want to design exciting learning experiences for young children and help them through play and exploration
  • You want to help children learn how to communicate and interact with their peers
  • You want to learn how to address racism, sexism, and other biases with young children and their families

Why Wheelock?

  • You can earn an undergraduate degree in four years; or an undergraduate degree, a master's degree, and Massachusetts ECE licensure in just 5 years
  • Wheelock has a national reputation for excellence in early childhood education
  • Wheelock's unique curriculum emphasizes social justice for all children and families
  • Extensive field experience begins in your first year
  • Theory and research are combined with real-world experiences

With 5th Year Master's and ECE PreK-2 Licensure

Wheelock's Early Childhood Education (ECE) program excels in the preparation of early childhood practitioners and leaders. In this innovative program, you can earn a Bachelor's degree in Early Childhood Education in four years or the Bachelor's degree plus a Master's degree in Early Childhood Education with Massachusetts licensure in Early Childhood Education (PreK-grade 2) in just five years of full-time study.

Wheelock's ECE major focuses on comprehensive education and care of children aged birth to 8 years old. Early childhood professionals work with young children and their families, supporting all aspects of their development and growth.

The Wheelock ECE undergraduate major and the optional 5th year Master's program combine cutting-edge educational philosophy and theory with hands-on experience and practical skills. Students in this program are immersed in the study of child development, and learn how to design and implement curriculum for young children. Unlike in many other early childhood education programs, students in Wheelock's program take curriculum courses during student teaching, so they get to actually teach the lessons they design.

Social Justice Focus

Students learn how to meet the individual needs of all children, including those with special needs. The Wheelock Early Childhood Education programs have a unique focus on teaching for social justice. Students learn how to create anti-bias learning communities that include and honor all children and families.

The undergraduate ECE Major is ideal for students interested in working with young children and families in early care settings, preschools, or private kindergartens. The undergraduate program qualifies graduates for Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care (DEEC) Lead Teacher Certification. Those who choose to continue in the 5th Year Master's program graduate with a Master's Degree in Early Childhood Education with Massachusetts Licensure in Early Childhood Education (PreK-Grade 2). This license is for teaching in Massachusetts public schools through grade 2.

Program Details

All undergraduate Early Childhood Education majors also have an Arts and Sciences major leading to a B.S. in Psychology and Human Development with a Developmental Psychology focus.

Students have two ECE program options:

  • Undergraduate ECE Major with DEEC Lead Teacher Certification (48 undergraduate credits)
    Educators holding this degree are qualified to teach in private schools and kindergartens, childcare centers, children's museums, and a variety of other private early childhood settings. Students may complete this program in four years of full-time undergraduate study.
  • Undergraduate ECE Major with 5th Year ECE Master's and MA ECE PreK-Grade 2 Licensure (48 undergraduate credits and 30 graduate credits
    Completing the 5th Year Master's leads to Massachusetts Department of Education's Early Childhood: Teacher of Students With and Without Disabilities (PreK-2) Initial Licensure. This license enables educators to work in diverse settings, including inclusive PreK-2 public schools and early childhood programs serving children ages 3-8 in public and private settings. To be eligible for state licensure for this program, students must meet all program requirements, including passing the required MTEL exams. Students may complete this program in five years of full-time study.

Students must declare their intent to enter the 5th Year program no later than the fall of their senior year and must apply after passing the Communication and Literacy subtests of the Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure (MTELs) and after passing the undergraduate student teaching practicum.

Field Experience

Students will begin field experiences in their first undergraduate semester. They will have the opportunity to observe and learn from experienced teachers in classrooms and at childcare centers throughout the Boston metropolitan area through supervised teaching experiences, also known as practica, with children in PreK-K and first/second grades. Students who choose the 5th Year Master's program will complete one practicum during their undergraduate studies and the second during the graduate program. Students earning the undergraduate ECE degree will complete both practica during the undergraduate program.

Sample Courses

  • Early Childhood Practicum and Seminar
  • Mathematics for Young Children in a Diverse Society
  • Principles of Inclusive Early Childhood Education in a Diverse Society
  • Racial and Cultural Identities
  • Supporting Young Children with Special Needs
  • Practitioner as Researcher

Skills You'll Learn

  • Individualize curriculum and teaching for each child
  • Plan and teach child-focused curriculum through play and exploration of all content areas for young children
  • Create positive relationships with children and families
  • Guide children's growth and behavior by focusing on their strengths
  • Create partnerships with families and include them in their children's education
  • Work with children who have a variety of special needs

Potential Careers

  • PreK-2 Lead Teacher in public or private school
  • Childcare center director
  • Children's museum educator
  • Children's publishing professional
  • Create or sell healthy, positive toys for young children

inspire a world of good

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