The early childhood education field is an exciting and rewarding career choice. Professionals within the field have the capacity to impact children’s present development as well as build a foundation from which future development can flourish. Career options within the field are extensive, and provide a variety of opportunities to work directly or indirectly with young children, their families, and their communities.
The Early Childhood Program at Heartland Community College is based on the principles of access and equity. The children and families impacted by the field, as well as the professionals within it, need access to high quality educational experiences that are developmentally appropriate. Through effective educational experiences, children, families, and professionals can acquire the knowledge, skills, and dispositions they need to attain equity and succeed in society. Many of these experiences are gained through observation and practica experiences within Heartland's inclusive Child Development Lab. The mission and programming of the lab school is complementary to that of the early childhood program, and every effort is made to maintain and enhance a bi-directional relationship between the two programs.
In our program, you will learn about effective practices supporting each child and family's unique development and learning needs. Through varied program delivery options, small class sizes, a focus on interaction and application, and the integration of pedagogical theory, our classes are dynamic, stimulating environments that support optimal learning.
Employment opportunities for the wide range of career options within the field are favorable. Preschool teachers, directors, special educators and professionals working within the public school system tend to earn more and have access to increased benefits. Increasingly, the importance of the early years in children’s future development is gaining attention, resulting in an upward trend in compensation and benefit opportunities.
Note: Career descriptions are based on information found in Illinois Career Services Information Systems (2006).
Professionals are employed within child care centers, Head Start, or preschool programs; family child care; private homes; community programs; public schools, and early intervention programs.
The State of Illinois has adopted a career lattice system, creating a seamless framework for professionals to develop. At Heartland Community College, we will offer the Level II, III and IV Early Childhood Education Credentials and Level II, III and IV Early Childhood Education-Infant and Toddler Credentials within the Illinois Gateways to Opportunities. These credentials promote access to varied career opportunities within the field, as well as opportunities to transfer to a four-year program to continue your course of study. In addition, we offer the A.A.S. degree in Early Childhood Education, which provides professionals with a strong knowledge based for supporting child and family development.
During the past five years, the State of Illinois has developed numerous programs to support professional development. These include the Gateways to Opportunity Scholarship, as well as the Great Start program. Overall, these programs are reflective of increased recognition that the early years matter and that high quality early education experiences provided by well-trained professionals results in positive outcomes for children.
At Heartland, you can earn your A.A.S. degree or certificates in both a traditional classroom and in a completely online format. Online classes include lively videos and engaging discussions, and they highlight current evidence-based practices.
All students in the early childhood program will undergo a screening process prior to observing children and a DCFS background check in order to legally observe and interact with children.
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