OXFORD, Miss. – Beginning in August, the University of Mississippi is offering a new bachelor’s degree in early childhood education.
The program will prepare UM School of Education graduates to become professionals in the field of early childhood education, including working in classroom settings and managing child care programs. This program was developed in response to recent research showing critical needs in this area.
“We conducted an assessment for the needs in regard to early childhood educator preparation and career opportunities throughout Mississippi,” said Kenya Wolff, assistant professor of early childhood education and director of Willie Price Lab School.
“The needs that were identified were an increased need for infant and toddler training, increased knowledge around developmentally appropriate practices in early childhood education and increased knowledge in special education and early intervention. Our program was designed to address these needs specifically.”
The program will provide students with an in-depth study of child development from birth to age 5. The degree program is designed to include multiple clinical experiences at every age span.
“Students who complete the Early Childhood Education program and pass all required licensure tests will be recommended for a Mississippi birth-kindergarten teaching licensure with an early childhood and special education endorsement,” said Burhanettin Keskin, program coordinator and associate professor of early childhood education.
“Furthermore, this program is specifically designed for individuals who would like to gain expertise in identifying early signs of developmental needs and implement interventions to support the learning and behavioral success of young children.”
Practicum courses for the program will take place every semester in diverse infant, toddler and preschool inclusion settings. Graduates will have opportunities to put their learning into practice at Willie Price Lab School, an on-campus, nationally accredited preschool. They also will complete student teaching in a public kindergarten setting.
“We have a unique state with many needs: high areas of poverty, historic racial segregation, rural schools,” Wolff said. “We want our program to address issues of social justice economically, racially and in rural and urban contexts to meet the needs of our young children.
“Our classes will emphasize working with families who live in poverty, working with children to support social (and) emotional needs, as well as the importance of addressing trauma early.”
Graduates of the program will receive licensure for preschool and kindergarten teaching and a special education endorsement. This is the second degree in early childhood education launched in recent years at Ole Miss. In 2014, the School of Education launched an online master’s degree in the field.
For more information about the bachelor’s degree in early childhood education, visit http://education.olemiss.edu/.