Theories Associated with Child Development
When studying child development in college, you will find that many psychologists of the past have developed various theories related to the ways in which children grow physically, emotionally, and psychologically. Understanding these theories will help you better comprehend the concepts of child development and all that it entails. Just a few theories and the masterminds who created and/or expanded them are listed below.
Attachment Theory (John Bowlby, Mary Ainsworth)
Behaviorism Theory (John B. Watson)
Ecological Systems Theory (Urie Bronfenbrenner)
Sociocultural Theory (Lev Vygotsky)
Theory of Cognitive Development (Jean Piaget)
Psychosocial Stages (Erik Erikson)
Child Development Degree Programs
Many colleges and universities around the country are well equipped and eager to prepare you for a career in child development. If you’re looking for how to get a degree in child development, this section will help you get started. It provides suggestions on ways to prepare yourself for further education in childhood development as well as recommending several schools with reputable child development courses and programs.
Preparing for a Child Development Education
There are a few ways in which you can begin your child development education before even setting foot on a college campus or signing up for an online degree program in child development.
Take psychology classes in high school. Your high school may offer introductory psychology courses that will help you gain insight to the basics of psychology, including child development. Many high schools also offer courses focused on family development and childcare. For more information, see your high school guidance counselor. Pursuing these type of opportunities in high school will be extremely helpful when you move on to college. You can likely test out of the introductory classes, saving yourself money and time!
Build experience. If you’re passionate about watching and helping children grow, then consider offering services as a babysitter for neighbors and family friends. You may have the opportunity to watch their children while the adults go out to dinner or other events. Over the summer is an especially beneficial time to gain experience, because you will have the opportunity to spend even more time alone with kids while their parents continue to carry out their daily work routines. You’ll develop skills on how to interact with children, understanding them better which can help you in a career down the road.
Schools with Child Development Degree Programs
If you are interested in online learning, Kaplan University offers an Associate of Applied Science in Early Childhood Development. The associates degree at Kaplan helps students gain knowledge in health, nutrition, and education for children from infancy to approximately eight years of age. This prepares students for careers in daycare centers and further degree options in early childhood education to work in daycare centers or elementary schools.
California State University at Chico provides undergraduate students with two bachelors programs: (1) Bachelor of Arts in Child Development, and (2) Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies/Child Development. These two programs are built to educate students on theories and processes related to child development, and students gain hands-on experience by observing children in various environments. They can also focus on the well-being of children and adolescents, as well. The double major of liberal arts and child development requires students take various courses in history, kinesiology, and mathematics, too. Doing this will broaden your area of knowledge even wider, qualifying you for more specialized careers that can lead to more opportunities and a larger yearly salary.
Erikson Institute offers graduate students a Master of Science in Child Development. This masters degree program is designed to ready students for advanced careers in the child development field. Instructors educate students in preparation for working with families of all sorts to help improve children’s living conditions and assisting with their progress in various stages of their development. Located in Chicago, IL, Erikson’s masters program focuses on building confidence and critical thinking skills to help students become leaders in child care, social services, and more. The child development masters program also offers students the opportunity to choose to specialize in specific areas, as well, including but not limited to administration, special needs, and family systems.
Careers in Child Development
Once you have been accepted into a child development or psychology program at a reputable college or university, you should consider career opportunities in the field of child development. Once you explore those career opportunities further, you may then begin forming your academics around the career of your choice. This section provides examples of entry level and advanced careers related to child development.
Entry Level Careers in Child Development
After earning an associates degree or bachelors degree in child development, you will find many doors will open for you. Career options are plenty, some of which are described here.
Special Education Paraprofessional
A special education paraprofessional acts as a teacher’s aide assisting with monitoring and interacting with children who have special needs. He or she focuses mostly on the child’s emotional and social development rather than serving as an educator. It is not uncommon for special education paraprofessionals to consult with other specialists like social workers and speech therapists who are also working with those children. Special education paraprofessionals often have associate degrees or bachelors degrees in child development, behavioral psychology, or other related fields. They possess high tolerance and patience levels as well as excellent verbal communication skills. This career is perfect for someone who truly has a heart for and cares about helping and educating special education children.
Special education paraprofessionals earn around $24,000 annually, based on education and experience levels.
Parent EducatorA parent educator teaches classes for new parents and parents of young children, explaining and demonstrating ways in which they can help support and take part in their children’s physical, biological, and emotional developmental processes. A parent educator usually possesses at least an associates degree in child development or a related field, but most organizations prefer parent educator applicants to possess bachelor degrees with some experience working with young children. Parent educators have excellent verbal and written communication skills as well as good problem solving abilities.
Parent educators can earn around $37,000 annually, based on education and experience levels.
Advanced Careers in Child Development
With a masters degree in child development, you will find that you may qualify for one or more of the positions briefly described below.
Child Care Center Director
A child care center director is responsible for staffing the establishment, assists in the development of the center’s curriculum, and also often serves as the purchasing agent for the center. Child care center directors usually work in preschools or daycare centers. The director of a child care center typically has at least a bachelors degree in a field related to child development or early childhood education and background knowledge in finance and business administration or management. He or she also usually has a few years of experience working with and/or around children.
Child care center directors may earn around $45,000 annually, based on education and experience levels.
Early Childhood Education Consultant
An early childhood consultant can spend his or her time developing educational programs to benefit young children with learning disabilities. Early childhood consultants also often monitor these programs to ensure the children’s safety and that they are receiving the care and education they need to succeed in school. This position typically requires the minimum of a bachelors degree in childhood development, special education, or early childhood education with at least two to three years of experience working around children. Early childhood consultants are highly personable and patient with excellent communication and observational skills.
Early childhood education consultants may earn around $50,000 annually, based on education and experience levels.
Early Childhood Education Regulator
An early childhood education regulator visits early childhood education centers to assess programs in order to ensure that all rules and regulations set by the state and government are being followed. These regulators possess excellent written and verbal communication and analytical skills in addition to detailed knowledge of updated government rules and regulations in regard to childhood education with years of experience working with children. They also typically have bachelor degrees in child development, early childhood education, or other related fields.
Early childhood education regulators can earn over $50,000 annually, based on education and experience levels. Pursuing higher education beyond the minimum requirement is always a good idea, not only to expand your knowledge but to contribute towards qualifying you for a larger yearly salary.
Companies that Hire People with Child Development Degrees
Child development is a fast-growing field with a huge demand for educated professionals. Companies and organizations everywhere are looking for people with child development degrees to improve their businesses and help countless children and their families around the world. Research opportunities and field experiences are waiting patiently for you. Check out the list of examples below of places that hire people with degrees in child development to fill jobs at their companies and organizations.
Hallmark Health System – locations across MA; hires positions for parent child educators, case coordinators, case managers, etc.
Family Focus, Inc. – headquarters in Chicago, IL; hires positions for parent educator, home visitors, etc.
Child Care Resources, Inc. – located in Charlotte, NC; hires positions for bilingual parent educators, professional development coordinators, social workers, regional infant toddler specialists, etc.
Gotham Per Diem Inc. – located in Bronx, NY; hires positions for paraprofessional aides, etc.
Child development is an increasingly necessary field. If you are passionate about helping youngsters grow and develop in healthy and happy ways, then earning a degree in child development just may be the right decision for you. Be sure to further research degree and career options, as well.