Early Childhood Studies Minor

Program description

Current research in the field of child development and education emphasizes the importance of early investment in quality programming for young children and families. The recognition of critical periods has altered the landscape of best practices and hence the required competencies for professionals from across disciplines who interface with young children and their families (e.g. social work, psychology, communication sciences and disorders, public health, nursing, occupational and physical therapy, medicine). In response, the Department of Education has designed a minor with an interdisciplinary curriculum. At the core of the minor is the focus on quality services and programming for young children and families.

Quality programming and service provision depends on highly trained professionals from across disciplines. A primary intent of the Early Childhood Minor is to foster the use of an interdisciplinary lens in preservice learners. Courses within the minor afford the opportunity for future professionals in human services related fields to think and work across disciplinary silos. The emphasis on interdisciplinary approaches harnesses the capacity across discipline-specific expertise and increases the likelihood of more seamless and efficient services delivered in future practice.

The Early Childhood Minor is intended to provide students with knowledge and skills designed to support scholarly and community- based work with children and their caregivers. A comprehensive approach to the foundation of child health and well-being is integrated throughout coursework, drawing from fields educational psychology, child health, curriculum and instruction. Emphasis is placed on the integration and application of attachment theory, the neuro-relational underpinnings of development, and the role of reflective capacity in caregiving. Throughout the minor, participants examine aspects of early caregiver-child relationships, child health and well-being, and the importance of developmentally appropriate practices to support the development of positive life outcomes. Specific course-related activities include infant/toddler observation, evaluating the influence of social and cultural contexts on a child’s behavior and learning, and examination of evidence-based approaches to working with children and families at risk. Further, policy relevant to programs for young children and their families is highlighted and the role of "self" as child advocate is discussed. The research based early childhood curriculum is designed to support students who are preparing to work in areas that focus on children and families.

Program last updated

Fall 2024