If you’re thinking of teaching young children, you may wonder what is the difference between early childhood and elementary education. That’s a very valid question. This is your career that’s at stake. It’s important to understand things like the age of the children taught, the work environment, the job outlook and the salary one can expect to earn with these degrees, according to NPR.
First, let’s take a look at the ages that fall under each category of education. With a degree in early childhood education, or ECE, you can teach children from birth through preschool. Usually, this is up until age four or five when children typically head off to Kindergarten. Elementary education takes over at this point, going from Kindergarten through middle school. This is usually from approximately age of five until fifth or sixth grade, around age 11.
Universal Skills Required
There are some skills and personality characteristics that would benefit a teacher in either of these age brackets. Love of children is paramount. However, the age ranges can present very different experiences due to developmental abilities along the spectrum. A knowledge of child development is essential in both early childhood education and elementary education. The teacher should know what milestones can be expected for the ages they work with. Lesson planning is also something you will need to do as a teacher across the grades. However, expectations are going to differ between a pre-school classroom and a group of fifth graders, for example. All teaching requires patience and problem solving skills. You will also need to be knowledgeable regarding laws that pertain to teaching at your grade level.
Early Childhood Education
When it comes to teaching babies through pre-schoolers, it’s important that you have high energy levels. Babies are constant work with feeding, diapering, holding and soothing. Once little ones begin to crawl, they’re constantly in motion, and they may not have the developmental ability to stay still or attentive for long. Thus, you must be incredibly creative and spontaneous to teach these tiny human beings. To become a teacher’s assistant at this level, an early childhood education certificate may be all that’s needed. An associate’s degree will usually be sufficient to become a teacher, though you can also go on to obtain a bachelor’s degree in the discipline.
Developmentally, children of elementary age tend to be more independent than their younger counterparts. They also have more advanced thinking and reasoning skills. Thus, you can challenge and teach them in much different ways. You’ll need to be more organized in order to keep up with these advanced lessons and be prepared to collaborate with other teachers. You will typically need to have a bachelor’s degree in elementary education to work as a teacher of these grades.
Pay and Job Outlook
It’s important to note that the difference between early childhood and elementary education is often seen in the salaries. ECE teachers tend to receive far lower pay than elementary school educators. There is also the issue of summer break to keep in mind. Early childhood educators tend to work year round.
Related Resource: Top 20 Best Master’s in English Language Learning Online 2018
Knowing which degree is right for you will depend upon individual factors and preferences. Hopefully, knowing the difference between early childhood and elementary education will help you to make an informed decision.