Introduction to Early Childhood Education
I. Course Prefix/Number: ECE 104
Course Name: Introduction to Early Childhood Education
Credits: 4 (3 lecture; 2 lab)
III. Course (Catalog) Description
Course introduces students to the field of early childhood education. Content includes historical and philosophical influences, current theories, professional responsibilities, roles, and family. Different types of early childhood programs studied and observed. Students placed in an approved early childhood center for a 20-hour/10-week affiliation. Students must successfully complete both the academic and field placement components of this course.
IV. Learning Objectives
At the conclusion of the course, students who satisfactorily complete all work will be able to:
- Observe, discuss, assess and evaluate a variety of early childhood programs and models.
- Demonstrate professional observation skills and developmentally appropriate strategies for working with young children.
- Discuss the complete role and responsibilities of a teacher in an early childhood center.
- Elaborate on the different career opportunities in the field of early childhood education and child care.
- Discuss program schedules, curriculum and classroom environment based on developmentally appropriate practices for infant/toddlers, preschool and after school centers.
- Demonstrate a working knowledge of the various principles, theories of history and philosophy of early childhood education.
- Demonstrate evidence of understanding the impact of significant adults on infants/toddlers, preschoolers and school age children.
- Discuss the major issues facing early childhood education today and their impact on early childhood programs. Identify the state and federal rules and regulations governing early childhood programs.
In addition to the objectives listed above, this course also meets the following Illinois Professional Teaching Standards and National Association for the Education of Young Children Teaching Standardss.
|STANDARD 1 – Teaching Diverse Students – The competent teacher understands the diverse characteristics and abilities of each student and how individuals develop and learn within the context of their social, economic, cultural, linguistic, and academic experiences. The teacher uses these experiences to create instructional opportunities that maximize student learning.|
Knowledge indicators – The competent teacher:
|1A)||understands the spectrum of student diversity (e.g. race and ethnicity, socioeconomic status, special education, gifted, English language learners (ELL), sexual orientation, gender, (gender identity) and the assets that each student brings to leaning across the curriculum;|
|1B)||understands how each student constructs knowledge, acquires skills, and develops effective and efficient critical thinking and problem-solving capabilities.|
|1C)||understands how teaching and student learning are influenced by development (physical, social and emotional, cognitive, linguistic), past experiences, talents, prior knowledge, economic circumstances and diversity within the community;|
|1D)||understands the impact of cognitive, emotional, physical, and sensory disabilities on learning and communication pursuant to the Individual with Disabilities Education Improvement Act) also referred to as “IDEA”) (20 USC 1400 et seq.),m its implementing regulations (34 CFR 300; 2006), Article 14 of the School Code [105 ILCS 5/Art.14] and 23 Ill. Adm. Code 226 (Special Education);|
|1E)||understands the impact of linguistic and cultural diversity on learning and communication;|
|1F)||understands his or her personal perspectives and biases and their effects on one’s teaching;|
|1G)||understands how to identify individual needs and how to locate and access technology, services, and resources to address those needs.|
STANDARD 2 – Content Area and Pedagogical Knowledge – The competent teacher has an in-depth understanding of content area knowledge that includes central concepts, methods, structures of the disciplines, and content area literacy. The teacher creates meaningful learning experiences for each student based upon interactions among content area and pedagogical knowledge, and evidence-based practice.
Knowledge indicators – The competent teacher:
|2A)||understands theories and philosophies of learning and human development as they relate to the range of students in the classroom;|
|2B)||understands major concepts, assumptions, debates, and principles; processes of inquiry; and theories that are central to the disciplines;|
|2C)||understands the cognitive processes associated with various kinds of learning (e.g. critical and creative thinking, problem-structuring and problem-solving, invention, memorization, and recall) and ensures attention to these learning processes so that students can master content standards;|
|2D)||understands the relationship of knowledge within the disciplines to other content areas and to life applications;|
|2E)||understands how diverse student characteristics and abilities affect processes of inquiry and influence patterns of learning;|
|2F)||knows how to access the tools and knowledge related to latest findings (e.g. research, practice, methodologies) and technologies in the disciplines.|
|2G)||understands the theory behind and the process for providing support to promote learning when concepts and skills are first being introduced.|
STANDARD 3 – Planning for Differentiated Instruction – The competent teacher plans and designs instruction based on content area knowledge, diverse student characteristics, student performance data, curriculum goals, and the community context. The teacher plans for ongoing student growth and achievement.
Knowledge indicators – The competent teacher:
|3A)||understands the Illinois Learning Standards (23 Ill. Adm. Code 1. Appendix D), curriculum development process, content, learning theory, assessment, and student development and knows how to incorporate this knowledge in planning differentiated instruction;|
|3B)||understands how to develop short- and long-range plans, including transition plans, consistent with curriculum goals, student diversity, and learning theory;|
|3C)||understands cultural, linguistic, cognitive, physical, and social and emotional differences, and considers the needs of each student when planning instruction.|
STANDARD 4 – Learning Environment – The competent teacher structures a safe and healthy learning environment that facilitates cultural and linguistic responsiveness, emotional well-being, self-efficacy, positive social interaction, mutual respect, active engagement, academic risk-taking, self-motivation, and personal goal-setting.
Knowledge indicators – The competent teacher:
|4A)||understands principles of and strategies for effective classroom and behavior management;|
|4B)||understands how individuals influence groups and how groups function in society;|
|4C)||understands how to help students work cooperatively and productively in groups;|
|4D)||understands factors (e.g. self-efficacy, positive social interaction) that influence motivation and engagement.|
|4E)||knows how to assess the instructional environment to determine how best to meet a student’s individual needs.|
STANDARD 5 – Instructional Delivery – The competent teacher differentiates instruction by using a variety of strategies that support critical and creative thinking, problem-solving, and continuous growth and learning. This teacher understands that the classroom is a dynamic environment requiring ongoing modification of instruction to enhance learning for each student.
Knowledge indicator – The competent teacher:
|5A)||understands the cognitive processes associated with various kinds of learning.|
|5B)||understands principles and techniques, along with advantages and limitations, associated with a wide range of evidence-based instructional practices;|
|5C)||knows how to implement effective differentiated instruction through the use of a wide variety of materials, technologies, and resources;|
|5D)||understands disciplinary and interdisciplinary instructional approaches and how they relate to life and career experiences;|
|5E)||knows techniques for modifying instructional methods, materials, and the environment to facilitate learning for students with divers learning characteristics;|
|5F)||knows strategies to maximize student attentiveness and engagement;|
|5G)||knows how to evaluate and use student performance data to adjust instruction while teaching.|
STANDARD 7 – Assessment – The competent teacher understands and uses appropriate formative and summative assessment for determining student needs, monitoring student progress, measuring student growth, and evaluating student outcomes. The teacher makes decisions driven by data about curricular and instructional effectiveness and adjusts practices to meet the needs of each student.
Knowledge indicators – the competent teacher:
|7A)||understands the purposes, characteristics, and limitations of different types of assessments, including standardized assessments, universal screening, curriculum-based assessment, and progress monitoring tools;|
|7B)||understands that assessment is a means of evaluating how students learn and what they know and are able to do in order to meet the Illinois Learning Standards.|
STANDARD 8 – Collaborative Relationships – The competent teacher builds and maintains collaborative relationships to foster cognitive, linguistic, physical, and social and emotional development. This teacher works as a team member with professional colleagues, students, parents or guardians, and community members.
Knowledge Indicators – The competent teacher:
|8A)||understands school as organization with the larger community context;|
|8B)||understands the collaborative process and the skills necessary to initiate and carry out that process.|
|8D)||understands the benefits, barriers, and techniques involved in parent and family collaborations;|
|8E)||understands school- and work-based learning environments and the need for collaboration with all organizations (e.g. businesses, community agencies, nonprofit organizations) to enhance student learning.|
STANDARD 9 – Professionalism, Leadership, and Advocacy – The competent teacher is an ethical and reflective practitioner who exhibits professionalism; provides leadership in the learning community; and advocates for students, parents or guardians, and the profession.
Knowledge Indicators – The competent teacher:
|9A)||evaluates best practices and research-based materials against benchmarks within the disciplines;|
|9B)||knows laws and rules (e.g. mandatory reporting, sexual misconduct, corporal punishment) as a foundation for the fair and just treatment of all students and their families in the classroom and school;|
|9D)||identifies paths of continuous growth and improvement, including the design of a professional growth plan;|
|9E)||is cognizant of his or her emerging and developed leadership skills and the applicability of those skills within a variety of learning communities;|
|9H)||understands the importance of modeling appropriate dispositions in the classroom.|
|STANDARD 1. Promoting Child Development and Learning|
|Candidates prepared in early childhood degree programs are grounded in a child development knowledge base. They use their understanding of young children’s characteristics and needs, and of multiple interacting influences on children’s development and learning, to create environments that are healthy, respectful, supportive, and challenging for each child.|
Key elements of STANDARD 1
|1A)||Knowing and understanding young children’s characteristics and needs, from birth through age 8|
|1B)||Knowing and understanding the multiple influences on early development and learning|
|1C)||Using developmental knowledge to create healthy, respectful, supportive, and challenging learning environments for young children.|
STANDARD 2 – Building Family and Community Relationships
|Candidates prepared in early childhood degree programs understand that successful early childhood education depends upon partnerships with children’s families and communities. They know about, understand, and value the importance and complex characteristics of children’s families and communities. They use this understanding to create respectful, reciprocal relationships that support and empower families, and to involve all families in their children’s development and learning.|
Key elements of STANDARD 2
|2A)||Knowing about and understanding diverse family and community characteristics|
|2B)||Supporting and engaging families and communities through respectful, reciprocal relationships.|
|2C)||Involving families and communities in young children’s development and learning.|
STANDARD 3. Observing, Documenting, and Assessing to Support Young Children and Families
|Candidates prepared in early childhood degree programs understand that child observation, documentation, and other forms of assessment are central to the practice of all early childhood professionals. They know about and understand the goals, benefits and uses of assessment. They know about and use systematic observations, documentation, and other effective assessment strategies in a responsible way, in partnership with families and other professionals, to positively influence the development of every child.|
Key elements of STANDARD 3
|3C)||Understanding and practicing responsible assessment to promote positive outcomes for each child, including the use of assistive technology for children with disabilities|
|3D)||Knowing about assessment partnerships with families and with professional colleagues to build effective learning environments.|
STANDARD 4. Using Developmentally Effective Approaches
|Candidates prepared in early childhood degree programs understand that teaching and learning with young children is a complex enterprise, and its details vary depending on children’s ages, characteristics, and the settings within which teaching and learning occur. They understand and use positive relationships and supportive interactions as the foundation for their work with young children and families. Candidates know, understand, and use a wide array of developmentally appropriate approaches, instructional strategies, and tools to connect with children and families and positively influence each child’s development and learning.|
Key elements of STANDARD 4
|4A)||Understanding positive relationships and supportive interactions as the foundation of their work with young children|
|4B)||Knowing and understanding effective strategies and tools for early education, including appropriate uses of technology|
|4C)||Using a broad repertoire of developmentally appropriate teaching/learning approaches|
|4D)||Reflecting on own practice to promote positive outcomes for each child.|
STANDARD 5 – Using Content Knowledge to Build Meaning Curriculum
|Candidates prepared in early childhood degree programs use their knowledge of academic disciplines to design, implement, and evaluate experiences that promote positive development and learning for each and every young child. Candidates understand the importance of developmental domains and academic (or content) disciplines in early childhood curriculum. They know the essential concepts, inquiry tools, and structure of content areas, including academic subjects, and can identify resources to design, implement, and evaluate meaningful, challenging curriculum that promotes comprehensive developmental and learning outcomes for every young child.|
Key elements of STANDARD 5
|5A)||Understanding content knowledge and resources in academic disciplines: language and literacy; the arts – music, creative movement, dance, drama, visual arts; mathematics; science, physical activity, physical education, health and safety; and social studies.|
|5B)||Knowing and using the central concepts, inquiry tools, and structures of content areas or academic disciplines|
|5C)||Using own knowledge, appropriate early learning standards, and other resources to design, implement, and evaluate developmentally meaningful and challenging curriculum for each child.|
STANDARD 6. Becoming a Professional
|Candidates prepared in early childhood degree programs identify and conduct themselves as members or the early childhood profession. They know and use ethical guidelines and other professional standards related to early childhood practice. They are continuous, collaborative learners who demonstrate knowledgeable, reflective and critical perspectives on their work, making informed decisions that integrate knowledge from a variety of sources. They are informed advocates for sound educational practices and policies.|
Key elements of STANDARD 6
|6B)||Knowing about and upholding ethical standards and other early childhood professional guidelines|
|6D)||Integrating knowledgeable, reflective, and critical perspectives on early education.|
V. Academic Integrity and Student Conduct
• plagiarism (turning in work not written by you, or lacking proper citation),
• falsification and fabrication (lying or distorting the truth),
• helping others to cheat,
• unauthorized changes on official documents,
• pretending to be someone else or having someone else pretend to be you,
• making or accepting bribes, special favors, or threats, and
• any other behavior that violates academic integrity.
There are serious consequences to violations of the academic integrity policy. Oakton's policies and procedures provide students a fair hearing if a complaint is made against you. If you are found to have violated the policy, the minimum penalty is failure on the assignment and, a disciplinary record will be established and kept on file in the office of the Vice President for Student Affairs for a period of 3 years.
Please review the Code of Academic Conduct and the Code of Student Conduct, both located online at
VI. Sequence of Topics
Introduction and overview of course, explanation of assignments, and 20-hour affiliation.
Topic: The People in the Center
Topic: Programs and Types of Centers
The Children and the Teaching Staff
The Parent/Teacher Partnership
The Early Childhood Professional
VII. Methods of Instruction
Course may be taught as face-to-face, hybrid or online course.
VIII. Course Practices Required
Except in unusual circumstances, students must notify the instructor prior to an absence.
A student who is absent may take a make-up exam, if he or she calls prior to the test, and then re-schedules the exam in the Testing Center. The instructor may administer a different test for the make-up exam.
IX. Instructional Materials
Readings in addition to the required text will be assigned.
X. Methods of Evaluating Student Progress
Grades will be based on performance in both the academic and the affiliation aspects of the course.
Students must pass both aspect of the course to earn a passing grade.
XI. Other Course Information
- Attendance is mandatory.
- Plagiarism/cheating policies are covered under the Academic Dishonesty section of the current catalog.
If you have a documented learning, psychological, or physical disability you may be entitled to reasonable academic accommodations or services. To request accommodations or services, contact the Access and Disability Resource Center at the Des Plaines or Skokie campus. All students are expected to fulfill essential course requirements. The College will not waive any essential skill or requirement of a course or degree program.
Oakton Community College is committed to maintaining a campus environment emphasizing the dignity and worth of all members of the community, and complies with all federal and state Title IX requirements.
Resources and support for
- pregnancy-related and parenting accommodations; and
- victims of sexual misconduct
Resources and support for LGBTQ+ students can be found at www.oakton.edu/lgbtq.
Electronic video and/or audio recording is not permitted during class unless the student obtains written permission from the instructor. In cases where recordings are allowed, such content is restricted to personal use only. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited. Personal use is defined as use by an individual student for the purpose of studying or completing course assignments.
For students who have been approved for audio and/or video recording of lectures and other classroom activities as a reasonable accommodation by Oakton’s Access Disabilities Resource Center (ADRC), applicable federal law requires instructors to permit those recordings. Such recordings are also limited to personal use. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited.
Violation of this policy will result in disciplinary action through the Code of Student Conduct.