Early Childhood Education: A Closer Look

Child Development & Family Relations

What is Early Childhood Education and how does it differ from Elementary Education?

The typical definition of “early childhood” is ages 0-8. Child Development/Family Relations majors with an interest in Early Childhood Education have an option to prepare for the early elementary education credential.

This option allows students to complete the requirements for state certification to teach early elementary grades in public schools and/or to work at preschool level.

Elementary Education typically refers to teaching grades K-8. The elementary education program at UMaine is geared toward students wishing to teach children in these grade levels.

How does the K-3 Early Childhood Education program differ from the K-8 certification program in the College?

Both programs are state-approved. Both require students to complete a core group of courses, apply for teacher candidacy and pass the PRAXIS I exam.

The programs differ in their emphases. Early Childhood Education emphasizes child development knowledge as a foundation of all curriculum planning. The focus on child development beginning in infancy is seen as important for teachers in planning appropriate experiences for young children. Curriculum courses integrate curriculum areas and address content within the context of developmental theory and best practices in early childhood education. Family involvement is integral to all early childhood classes.

The K-8 teaching program is rooted in learning theory and addresses each content area individually and curriculum planning as individual courses.

Both programs cover wide age spans. The early childhood program prepares students to teach children ages 0-8, while the K-8 program prepares teachers to work with children 5-14.

The degree requirements for CDFR Early Childhood Education and Elementary Education are not identical. Students must check the graduation requirements for both programs.

If I want to transfer from Elementary Education to the Early Childhood Education concentration, what do I do?

Early Childhood Education students must be admitted to the Child Development/Family Relations major. Students must submit an essay describing their professional goals, a resume, and maintain a 2.5 GPA.

It is advisable that students seeking the Early Childhood Education K-3 certification option take and pass the PRAXIS I early in their program of study. Registration materials, information and access to tutorials are available at the Advising Center in Shibles Hall.

Early Childhood Education concentration

Students who wish to teach in the public school system may earn a Bachelor’s degree in Child Development and Family Relations with the course work necessary to obtain certification for teaching K-3 and specialized training for working with children ages 0-8.

Students in this state-approved program must apply for teacher candidacy within the College of Education and Human Development. Students typically apply for candidacy after their second year when they have completed the necessary core courses and received passing scores on the PRAXIS 1 test. After students are admitted to teacher candidacy, they are eligible to take the upper level curriculum classes and student teach in a K-3 classroom.

The requirements for teacher candidacy are available at the Human Development & Family studies office in 118 Merrill Hall or at the Advising Center in Shibles Hall.

Child Development and Family Relations

Students wishing to work with infants, toddlers, preschoolers, or the families of such children do not need State certification to do so. They may earn a Bachelors degree in Child Development and Family Relations. Course work and field experiences are designed to support career goals within the field.

For more information about the Child Development and Family Relations major and Early Childhood Education option, please contact:

Human Development & Family Studies
5749 Merrill Hall, Room 118
University of Maine
Orono , ME 04469-5749
Phone: 207.581.3119
E-mail: janice.bacon@umit.maine.edu