Earn your Degree, License, and Credentials in Early Childhood Education at Governors State University
Governors State University is known for providing accessible, responsible, and high-quality opportunities for higher education just 40 miles south of Chicago, IL. With academic excellence a top priority, we are committed to preparing our students for success, not just with the skills and knowledge required to excel in the professional world but with confidence that propels them into their prospective industries. With a degree and credentials in Early Childhood Education from Governors State University, our students are prepared to serve as teachers and other educational professionals, making a positive impact in the real world. Early childhood teachers specialize in the foundation of educational, developmental, social, and physical needs of young children that provides them a safe learning environment. Because of the ongoing teacher shortage, the current generation of children are at risk of not receiving the appropriate guidance their educational development requires. You can become the pillar of support children need to flourish as lifelong learners.
Highlights of Governors State University
Why Study Early Childhood Education?
The earliest years of life are the foundation for a child’s future development, providing a strong base for lifelong learning. According to the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), children who receive early childhood educational opportunities are more successful on average as they continue in their educational and professional futures.
Hear from GSU students on how studying ECE at GSU can benefit you:
High-quality early learning experiences lead to a myriad of short- and long-term benefits, and effective, skilled, diverse early childhood educators are the lynchpin to quality. Therefore, it is critical that these educators have the knowledge and skills needed to provide experiences that are supportive of young children’s development and learning, to forge positive relationships with children, to support young learners’ individual needs, and to serve children from diverse backgrounds.
At the same time, Illinois is experiencing a dire teacher shortage, particularly in early childhood settings where the need for well-prepared teachers is expected to grow by nearly 10% in the next six years. To mitigate this shortage, existing Illinois early childhood career professionals must advance their knowledge and skills through the completion of well-designed coursework and educational opportunities leading to degrees and credentials.
In one study, there was a group of students who were followed from a quality early education through their later educational years. That group was compared to another group of students in a control group. When looked at years later, the students who had a high-quality educational experience earlier on had fewer discipline issues, scored better on tests, had better behavior, were more social, and had higher attendance rates. You can see how many of the skills that children develop in their early years lay the foundation for how they view education throughout the remainder of their lives.
For example, if a child is taught to use his or her fingers to do addition in the early years, finger counting may be the method for which the child feels most comfortable when learning new math skills. If the child is able to do addition mentally during his or her early years, mental math will be easier as the child grows and learns other mathematical skills. Is one way right or wrong? It depends on who you ask, but the point goes to show that skills learned in the early stages of development and learning will often follow a child throughout the rest of their primary school years.
Since early childhood education begins at birth and extends through grade two, there are other skills that need to be learned, and our Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education goes over those skills. These foundational principles will not only help your young students in their current season of life but will also set them up for success as they grow and develop. The satisfaction that comes with being a part of that process is unparalleled.
The Early Childhood Education program at Governors State University prepares future educators to work with families and children from birth through second grade in a variety of positions, including teaching in classrooms and other settings serving English Language Learners and children with special needs. Do you want to make an impact in your community and on the future? We have the program you need.
For candidates who seek a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education:
For candidates with a B.A. and no teaching license who seek initial licensure:
For candidates with a teaching license (Professional Educator License) who seek subsequent endorsements:
Are you still unsure which pathway to choose? Check out our Program Matrix. You can also reach out to an advisor: email Eileen Lally at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about our undergraduate programs or Carla Johnson at email@example.com for more information about our graduate and Post-BAC programs.
- ● About the program:
- ○ The Early Childhood Education Program at GSU integrates real-world, practical field experiences for our candidates leading up to a full-time student teaching residency. These placements are in diverse settings across the region giving our candidates a rich foundation as they enter the field of education. The program also offers courses with facilitation from professional, experienced instructors. The instructors have experience as teachers and administrators in early childhood and are up to date on issues and trends.
- ○ The Early Childhood Education program at Governors State University is approved by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) for recommendation of Initial Licensure in Early Childhood Birth - 2nd Grade by entitlement, as well as the Early Childhood Special Education Approval and ESL Endorsements.
- ○ The Early Childhood Education program prepares candidates for teaching children from birth through 2nd grade, as well as other career paths in the field of education. For a list of careers you can have with this degree, scroll to the bottom of this page.
- ○ The ECE program prepares its teacher candidates to:
- ■ Be reflective, lifelong learners
- ■ Advocate for diversity and social justice
- ■ Be engaged, effective, transformative educators
- ○ The program is guided by the standards set by professional organizations. Teacher candidates should:
- ■ Demonstrate competency in the field of early childhood education by developing an understanding of these standards
- ■ Apply these standards throughout their coursework and field experiences
- ○ The coursework in the program is guided by the unit’s conceptual framework:
- ■ Founded on research-based best practices, as well as classic and current educational theory
- ■ Emphasizes processes of guided inquiry and reflective analysis in order to bring about candidates’ conceptual development and growth of their professional selves
- ■ Provides opportunities to apply knowledge and connect theory to practice in schools and centers that reflect the diverse community
- ■ Promotes equity, culture responsive teaching practices, and educating the whole child
- ■ Integrates various technology for learning and teaching purposes
- ● For help with applying, financial aid, and advising, as well as general information about the program, watch these videos:
- ● Hear from our students to learn why our program stands out:
Our favorable faculty-student ratios ensure lots of individual attention from our dedicated faculty members. The faculty in the program have extensive experience in both the early childhood and university setting. Their in-depth knowledge of the content and skills provide the foundation in the courses. Classes consist of hands-on learning activities and opportunities for students to apply the content. Technology is integrated in every course. Faculty use innovative teaching strategies to engage students in learning.
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The Division of Education provides professional academic advisors to serve the needs of all of its candidates. Your program’s academic advisor is the ideal first contact for:
- ● Individuals considering transfer into this degree program.
- ● Newly admitted candidates who need to develop a plan of study, including evaluation of transfer credits.
- ● Continuing candidates who have questions or comments on program policies, procedures, and requirements individuals considering transfer into this degree program.
From admission to graduation, your academic advisor is your partner towards success. Our academic advisors are here to answer any questions you have about our early childhood programs and help you navigate the requirements needed for each program. Once you are admitted, make sure you reach out to your advisor for guidance throughout your program. Advisors will help:
- ● Review your application and transcripts
- ● Determine your study plan based on course offerings and program schedule
- ● Provide you with an outline of your program and courses
- ● Help you register for classes. For guidelines on registering for classes, click here.
- ● Make sure you have ELIS and Illinois Gateways accounts
Admission to GSU
At Governors State University, we are interested in the success of every student. Whether you are fresh out of high school, transferring from another university, or continuing your education later in life, we’re excited to help you through it. Contact one of our admissions representatives today to help guide you through the admissions process.
Whether you’re a freshman, transfer student, graduate student, or certificate seeker, you’ll find your fit at GSU. For more information or to find your student type, visit our Admissions Page.
Ready to apply? Follow the application instructions. If you have questions or need help with the application, schedule a virtual appointment to meet with someone.
Here is more information if you are a student who is interested in applying or needs help with the application process:
- Freshman Students:
- Transfer Students:
- Graduate Students:
If you have been recently admitted into Governors State University, here is some important information for you. Review what to do next on the Admitted Student webpages located below; first steps include setting up your online accounts, submitting immunization records, completing your FAFSA for financial aid, making an appointment with your advisor, registering for classes, and completing orientation.
- Freshman Students:
- Transfer Students:
- Graduate Students:
- Resources for all Admitted Students:
Careers in Early Childhood Education
As an early childhood educator, you will support the academic, social, and emotional development of children in a variety of settings, including infant/toddler, preschool, kindergarten, and first and second-grade classrooms. Employment for preschool teachers is expected to grow over the next decade - faster than the national average for all occupations (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017). Kindergarten and early elementary positions are also expected to grow due to a statewide shortage of qualified teachers. Teachers with an ESL endorsement and special education approval are especially in demand (ISBE, 2018).
A degree in Early Childhood Education prepares you to work with children from birth through 7 years old, and there are a variety of career opportunities you can pursue once you have completed your degree at Governors State University. Many of the jobs involve working directly with children, while others involve using your knowledge of early childhood education to indirectly promote the development of young children. Below is a list of job opportunities for early childhood education majors, which are categorized by a variety of settings.
School districts include grades K-12; some districts have preschool programs as well. Schools could be public, private, or religious-based.
Teacher, Kindergarten to 2nd Grade
With an early childhood education degree, you would be qualified to teach kindergarten, first grade, and second grade. Putting together lesson plans, understanding how to settle conflicts, and keeping track of student progress would be some of your main responsibilities. Once in elementary school, learning becomes a little more structured.
As a preschool teacher, you are often the child’s first teacher outside the home. You would be tasked with offering fundamental lessons that help your students reach the basic standards required in society. Teaching is fun in preschool, with opportunities to turn playtime into learning time and vice versa.
A paraprofessional (also known as a teacher’s aide) works in a classroom to support the teacher with management and organization. You might assist with lesson planning or grading. A teacher’s aide also facilitate small group lessons and work with students individually. Paraprofessionals typically do not have their teacher's license.
Childcare Center or Head Start Program
Positions could be in various child care centers or Head Start Programs, as well as religious-based programs.
Teacher (Infant, Toddler, and Preschool)
As an infant, toddler, or preschool teacher, you are often the child’s first teacher outside the home. You would be tasked with offering fundamental lessons that help your students reach the basic standards required in society. Teaching is fun in early childhood, with opportunities to turn playtime into learning time and vice versa. Teachers working with infants, toddlers, and preschool-age children could work for a childcare center, Head Start, church, or other organization.
A teacher’s aides helps the teacher in the classroom. This support might include planning lessons, facilitating small groups, working with students individually, and assisting with classroom management.
Childcare directors are responsible for the daily operations of a daycare center or Head Start program. They ensure a safe and educational environment for young children, which includes developing curricula in coordination with teachers and ensuring that all program mandates and standards for excellence are met. Directors also supervise and train staff, communicate with parents, and manage finances.
Community Organizations and Businesses
These include social work organizations, park districts, libraries, hospitals, and businesses.
Curriculum Specialists provide support to teachers by helping create and revise materials used in the classroom. They also analyze student data to assess and improve the school's implementation and evaluation of classroom materials. Curriculum specialists typically work for school districts, but they may also work for colleges, educational support services, or state/local governments. Many organizations require their Curriculum Specialists to have a master’s degree and experience working as a classroom teacher.
Program/Education coordinators manage the activities of a specific program within an organization. They may plan events, manage staff, and monitor the budget for the program. They may also collect and analyze data on the program to help improve the overall organization. Program/Education coordinators may work for schools, public libraries, museums, park districts, and non-profit organizations.
Child Life Specialist
According to www.Childlife.org, Certified Child Life Specialists are educated and clinically trained in the developmental impact of illness and injury. Their role helps improve patient and family care, satisfaction, and overall experience. In both healthcare and community settings, Certified Child Life Specialists help infants, children, youth, and families cope with the stress and uncertainty of acute and chronic illness, injury, trauma, disability, loss, and bereavement. They provide evidence-based, developmentally, and psychologically appropriate interventions including therapeutic play, preparation for procedures, and education to reduce fear, anxiety, and pain.
The main goal of a child development specialist is identifying specific developmental and psychological disorders in children and ensuring they receive the care they need so that they can thrive. According to Career Herd, child developmental specialists spend a lot of time observing their patients play various games, complete activities, and have conversations. They develop plans for helping to encourage and support children in overcoming delays and possible barriers to learning. Additionally, specialists must continually assess progress and consider alternative plans for improvement.
Assessment specialists work for educational institutions or companies that develop educational assessment materials. The responsibilities of an assessment specialist may include researching current curricula and learning standards to create guidelines for assessments or creating questions and answers for student assessments. The types of assessments created by assessment specialists can be used to help determine student placement, progress, or development. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, assessment specialist jobs are expected to grow at a rate of 11% over the next 10 years.
Parent Educator or Family Engagement Specialist
There are a variety of positions you could have in a social work organization. As a parent education or family engagement specialist, you would work with families to provide educational and community resources. You could also be a partner quality coach and oversee partner sites associated with the organization to ensure quality.
These are positions located in the home environment.
Some parents looking for a nanny don’t require any form of education, but then there are others that place a high value on education and may be willing to pay more if you have a degree in early childhood education. As a nanny, you would typically work in the private home of your employer, completing daily tasks associated with the children and acting as a “parent” while the actual parent works or takes care of other responsibilities. If you work with an infant, you may be paid more than if your children are in grade school.
You can find the complete guide to graduation requirements for your degree, as well as descriptions for each course, in our program catalog.