School of Education

Early Childhood Education

Preparing highly competent, creative, and dynamic early childhood educators

Early childhood is a time when amazing development occurs across cognitive, linguistic, social-emotional, physical and health domains. Early childhood educators play a critical role in fostering optimal developmental outcomes for young children during this important period.
Elon’s early childhood education major offers a course of study focusing on:

  • A holistic view of children and families within their sociocultural context
  • Child development science and theory
  • Evidence-based practices for working with young children.

Merging general and special education, this major equips graduates to work with a wide range of children and to relate to families in a culturally competent manner. The early childhood education major meets the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction’s (NCDPI) Teacher Education Specialty Area Standards for Birth-Kindergarten (NCBK) Teacher Candidates. Students graduating with this major will be eligible to apply for and receive NCBK licensure from the NCDPI.


"I have had the chance to grow as an educator with the support of Elon's Early Childhood Program. I have learned about the most current teaching philosophies being used in early childhood classrooms, and have been able to work with skilled cooperating teachers who are well-trained in these philosophies. The time I spent working in a toddler classroom at a Reggio-inspired school led me to realize what I want to do after graduation, and allowed me hands-on experience creating and implementing lesson plans in this nature-based school setting. One thing that is unique to Elon's Early Childhood Program is the personalized support from my professors, ranging from career advice to celebratory end-of-semester meals to conversations about my research interests. My experiences with these professors and my close-knit ECE cohort have continued to challenge and inspire me throughout my four years at Elon."

Melissa Mischka '15

Balancing theory and practice

The early childhood education major is constructed so that teacher candidates gradually take on greater responsibility for designing learning environments for young children, interacting with families and colleagues, and taking on the role of professional educator.

The program of study begins with courses on early childhood development, math and science knowledge of the early childhood educator, and the role of educational research. Teacher candidates are involved early in practicum experiences where they make connections with coursework on assessment and evidence-based practices in early childhood. As the program progresses, candidates gain deep content knowledge in early language and literacy development, family-team partnerships, early emotional and social development and early intervention/early childhood special education. A full semester is dedicated to student teaching in an early childhood setting.

Expert, active faculty and research opportunities

At Elon, you will study and engage in practical experiences alongside expert faculty who are committed to excellence and advocacy in the field of early childhood. Early childhood education majors enjoy small classes that allow for close working relationships with faculty members. Elon welcomes opportunities for candidates to engage in research activities with faculty mentoring.

Varied career options

Early childhood education majors will be qualified and licensed to teach in preschools, kindergarten classrooms, day care centers and Head Start or Early Head Start programs. Graduates will be prepared to work in inclusive settings enrolling both children with and without disabilities or delays. Additional professional career paths available to graduates include, child care center director, early childhood special education teacher, educational consultant, lobbyist (advocating for young children) or children’s museum project coordinator.

Graduates of the program may also choose to pursue graduate degrees in education or related fields such as speech-language pathology, occupational therapy, physical therapy and others.

Visit the School of Education website.

Return to the Admissions majors page.