Early Childhood Education 

Why study Early Childhood Education?

The earliest years of a child's life are the most crucial in terms of development. A career in early childhood education will help you make a positive impact on the lives and development of infants, toddlers, young children, and their families. 

Illinois is currently facing a shortage of qualified early childhood professionals: early elementary school teachers, preschool teachers, childcare center workers, home childcare providers, and others who work with children from birth to second grade. Early childhood education courses at Parkland College offer a flexible, practical path to a rewarding career working with young children. 

Scholarships are available!

If you work or have worked in early childhood education and you're seeking additional credentials or a degree in early childhood education, you may be eligible for the Illinois Early Childhood Access Consortium for Equity (ECACE) Scholarship Program. Scholarships cover your total cost of attendance for an academic year (including summer) after the other financial aid received. Visit the Illinois Student Assistance Commission to learn more!

Associate in Applied Arts (A.A.S.) in Early Childhood Education

At Parkland College, you will complete specific requirements and a minimum of 60 semester credits to earn your associate's degree, your DCFS head teacher qualification, and Illinois Gateways ECE Level 4 credential. You can then transfer into a four-year program in early childhood education as a junior to complete your bachelor's degree and gain your Illinois Professional Education License (PEL) to teach birth through second grade. 

Early Childhood Education

Associate in Applied Science (A.A.S.)
Course Sequence

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Illinois Department of Children and Family Services Teacher Qualification

Parkland College can help you prepare to work as a head teacher, assistant teacher, or director in a DCFS-licensed childcare center or home-based program.

Illinois Department of Children and Family Services requirements:

  • Head Teachers: 30 hours of college credit, with 6 in early childhood education
  • Directors: 60 hours of college credit, with 18 hours in ECE, and 3 in business management or leadership

Early Childhood Educator Credentials

The Illinois Gateways to Opportunity ECE Credentials are symbols of professional development that demonstrate your knowledge, skills, and experience in caring and educating for children. They also show employers you are highly qualified. Parkland College courses are aligned with these credentials, so students who complete the Early Childhood Education AAS will earn the ECE Credential Level 4. Opportunities to earn Levels 2 and 3 are also available.

Practical and Flexible Classes

Early Childhood Education courses at Parkland College include practical, hands-on learning with instructors with real-life experience in the field. Students spend time observing and working with children at Parkland’s Child Development Center and other area programs and facilities. The program has been designed for both full- and part-time students and classes are available both on-campus and online.

  • Learn how children develop from birth to age 8
  • Gain strategies for guiding children’s behavior
  • Understand the importance of play and creativity in young children’s learning
  • Create plans and materials for use in preschool classrooms
  • Understand the needs of infants and toddlers in all care settings
  • Learn how to teach concepts of health, safety, and nutrition to young children
  • Observe and participate in classroom settings
  • Understand and experience methods and strategies for working with young children with special needs
  • Develop the leadership and administrative skills to run a childcare center