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Early Childhood Education

Inspiring Young Minds

A degree in Early Childhood Education from the University of Central Missouri prepares you assess children’s developmental needs, provide developmentally appropriate instruction, and provide positive and healthy learning environments for children. You’ll have extensive experience in early childhood classrooms in a variety of settings and grade levels. These experiences will make you look and act differently than other future teachers who’ve spent less time in the classroom. You’ll stand out!

Our mission is to provide students with a comprehensive understanding of early childhood education based upon developmentally appropriate practice, and accurate, relevant, and meaningful personalized higher education experiences. In alignment with NAEYC, we promote and guide thinking toward high-quality early learning for all children, birth through age 8, by connecting practice, policy, and research to encourage lifelong learning with excellence in the field of early childhood education.


Experiential Learning

At UCM, we believe you learn best by doing. That’s why you’ll receive extensive classroom teaching opportunities in multiple grade levels and settings well before you graduate. In fact our goal is for you to have classroom placements in every grade in which you will be certified to teach. 


Engaged Faculty

Our faculty are all experienced former elementary teachers with the knowledge and skills to help you develop as an educator. Your professors are with you in your field placements to provide support. Working alongside elementary teachers and students ensures we stay current and are preparing you well for the reality of today’s classrooms.. 


Find Your Place

UCM offers many ways for students to be involved. Education students may choose to join student chapters of the Missouri State Teachers Association or the National Education Association. Members of Kappa Delta Pi, an education honor society, sponsor a variety of projects designed to support area schools and organizations. If visiting other countries is appealing, our department sponsors two Study Abroad trips each year.

Undergraduate Majors

Undergraduate Minors

Undergraduate Certificates

Graduate Degrees

Program Outcomes

As a graduate of our Early Childhood Education program, you will:

  • Promote child development and learning while building family and community relationships.
  • Observe, document, and assess to support young children and families.
  • Use content knowledge, appropriate pedagogy, and dispositions to build meaningful curriculum using developmentally effective approaches.

Team Advising Approach

We use a team advising approach for our students. Your academic advisor will make sure you are taking courses in the correct sequence and that you are meeting all requirements for Missouri teaching certification. You will also be assigned a faculty advisor who will be one of your professors. Your faculty advisor will work closely with you when you begin taking major and professional education courses.

Clinical Services and Certification, located in Lovinger 2170, monitors your progress from admission to teacher education through student teaching and finalizes your certification with the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Clinical Services and Certification will oversee your field experiences, including your student teaching placement.

Hands On Learning

Early Field Experience

You will be placed in an elementary classroom for the first time in your second or third semester at UCM. You will complete a six-hour block of foundations courses and spend 30 hours in an elementary classroom. This will allow you to see teaching from a teacher’s perspective and help you know for sure you are on the right path.

Junior Year Blocks

During your junior year, you will complete two blocks. A block is a combination of courses and an extensive placement in an elementary classroom. One of your blocks will focus on Pre-K and Kindergarten and the other will focus on grades 1-3. All of your courses will be about teaching and learning in those grades. You will be placed in an elementary classroom in one of the grades you are focusing on that semester. You’ll primarily work with small groups of children – you will teach them, interview them, assess them, read with them, play games with them.

Senior Year Blocks

You’ll spend your senior year in the same school district. During your first senior semester, you’ll have classes one day a week and them be in your classroom placement two days a week. You’ll experience three different grades levels for about five weeks each. During this semester, you really start assuming the work of the teacher. You’ll plan with your cooperating teacher and teach the whole class. You’ll attend professional development and meetings along with your teacher. The second semester is student teaching and you will be placed with one of the three teachers you worked with first semester. This means the transition to student teaching is smooth!


Early Childhood Graduate Certificates

Admission Requirements

Both certificate programs have the same minimum admissions requirements:

  • A minimum 2.5 GPA on any courses completed prior to admission.
  • Completed bachelor’s degree in early childhood education or a related field of study.

Leadership and Management in Early Childhood Education

This certificate is designed to support and enhance leadership skills within early childhood education. The Leadership in Early Childhood Education Certificate aligns with the Missouri Association for the Education of Young Children (MO AEYC) Director Credential, meeting criteria upon completion. The certificate consists of Master’s level Early Childhood Education courses approved by the Missouri Department of Higher Education. This certificate is designed to support and engage early education leaders in and outside the classroom promoting learning, achievement, development, and well-being of each early childhood student through leadership development.

Student Learning Outcomes

  • Develop cross- cultural responsiveness and strength-based perspectives within and across family engagement.
  • Identify and explain what operations management in early childhood programming involves (i.e., educational leadership, personnel management and human relations).
  • Create a collaborative culture that enhances professional practice and identification of common goals to support 21st century teaching, learning, and leadership.
  • Explain foundational knowledge of multicultural education and integrate, into personal practice and leadership, a common framework for engaging one’s own story with the story of diverse PK-12 learners and colleagues.
  • Identify and discuss important factors affecting quality of early childhood programs including conducting staff recruitment, interview, orientation, supervision and evaluation. 

Courses: 15 credit hours

  • EDAD 5130 School Supervision, 3 credit hours
  • ECEL 5715 An Ecological Perspective of Family Engagement in Early Childhood Education, 3 credit hours
  • ECEL 5725 Early Childhood Business & Legal Issues, 3 credit hours
  • ECEL 5750 Multicultural Education: Beliefs, Curriculum & Pedagogy, 3 credit hours
  • ECEL 5790 Collaborative Practice in Early Childhood Education, 3 credit hours

Advanced Teaching in Early Childhood Education

This certificate is designed to support and enhance teaching skills within early childhood education. The Advanced Teaching in Early Childhood Education Certificate aligns with the Core Competencies for Early Childhood and Youth Professionals (Missouri and Kansas) and the revised 2020 National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Professional Standards and Competencies for Early Childhood Educators. The certificate consists of Master’s level Early Childhood Education courses approved by the Missouri Department of Higher Education. This certificate is designed to support and engage early childhood educators in the classroom promoting learning, development, achievement, and well-being of each early childhood student.

Student Learning Outcomes

  • Apply research-based procedures, using their own knowledge, appropriate early learning standards, high leverage practices, innovative resources to design, implement, and evaluate use of engaging and challenging curriculum for early learners.
  • Develop a pedagogy of caring by 1) recognizing the characteristics of caring; 2) classifying pervasive teacher attitudes and expectations that impact caring; and 3) recognizing how the effects of teacher-student interactions on student outcomes can lead to culturally responsive teaching
  • Plan and program STEM activities for children through intentional teaching, inquiry units, play and everyday routines.
  • Analyze and use relevant theories and research to demonstrate the understanding that positive relationships, supportive interactions, and engaging instructional experiences build effective classroom environments.
  • The professional teacher engages in professional conversations with colleagues focusing on current issues in early childhood education to support 21st century teaching and learning.

Courses: 15 credit hours

  • ECEL 5710 Early Childhood Education: A Constructivist Approach, 3 credit hours
  • ECEL 5740 Play in Early Childhood Education, 3 credit hours
  • ECEL 5750 Curriculum and Pedagogy in Multicultural Education, 3 credit hours
  • ECEL 5780 STEM in Early Childhood Education, 3 credit hours
  • ECEL 5785 Teaching Strategies & The Classroom Environment for Active, Engaged Learning, 3 credit hours



UCM is the longest continuously CAEP accredited public institution in Missouri


Program Coordinator

Natalie Tye
Assistant Professor
Lovinger 3182
Tel: (660) 543-4787


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