A-Z Of Courses: Early-years education

What is it?

Studying early-years education isn't just about learning to be a teacher, though it can also be that if you choose. Nor is it all about changing nappies. It is a comprehensive look at how children under-8 learn and develop from both a theoretical and practical perspective. With most courses including elements of philosophy, sociology and literature (for instance, the cultural concept of childhood, the role of gender in childhood and early literacy and literature for children), you may find yourself looking at Sigmund Freud's work one minute and Noddy the next. Each course will also involve a number of practical placements in different settings, from reception classes to libraries to family centres. You can usually specialise in an area of particular interest.

Who studies it?

While the majority of people who study early-years education have already decided they want to spend their working days surrounded by little darlings, fear not if you're unsure or even later decide that the very thought of hordes of children is enough to send you straight for the box of paracetamol. You'll get your fair share of transferable skills, from working to deadlines and managing others (such as children) to learning how to process data and problem-solving. To get onto a course you need to be able to prove you have skills in written and spoken English and basic numeracy. You also need to be willing to work with computers and the be able to listen, express your own views and respect the views of others. Courses are also suitable for those who are already working in the field without a qualification who wish to formalise what they know and build on their experience in the classroom. Some courses include the opportunity to have an international work placement.

Why study it?

The care and education of young children has a huge effect on their later lives, from educational achievement to life chances generally. Courses in early-years education are as far away as possible from the idea that you just have to dump some well meaning people into nurseries to make sure the children don't come to any harm. Instead they work on the principle that you need a well-trained, well-informed, skilled and confident workforce running services for young children.

But can I get a job in it?

There's huge demand for qualified people at this level and government policy in recent years has recognised the importance of a highly qualified workforce to support early-years children. Some courses include a teaching qualification. Others will prepare you to take a PGCE. Some people may decide to pursue a further qualification in social work, or to go straight into working in the community at family centres or Sure Start, the Government scheme that delivers education, childcare, healthcare and family support. Then there's specialist library work and work in the voluntary sector, education research or management roles in daycare provision. And there are plenty of higher-level courses for those who want to go on to further study or research.

Little known fact

"Give me a child until he is seven, and I will show you the man." It is true that the quality of education and care given to children at an early age has a huge effect on their achievements later in life. In fact, research shows that the number of words an infant hears each day (from a human being, not from the radio or television) is the single most important factor in later success.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

WORLDbytes: Two-Day Intensive Camera training and Shoot: Saturday 7th & Sunday 8th March

expenses on shoots: WORLDbytes: Volunteering with a media based charity,for a ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 4 Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: A school in Tameside is currently l...

Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teaching Assistant

£50 - £70 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Tradewind are currently looking for ...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Advisor - OTE £30,000

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower