• All courses in the Early Childhood Education Certificate Program are offered online using the Moodle learning environment.
  • Tutorials will be available for those unfamiliar with this platform.
  • Online participation is required several times a week.
  • The program will begin with a mandatory all-day face-to-face orientation at the beginning of June. There will be one more face-to-face meeting at the beginning of January to give directions for the Advanced Field Experience (see below).
ECE Certificate Program Coursework Calendar
Session Units Course# Title
Summer 3 EDEC 531 The Role of Play in Development and Learning
Fall 3 EDEC 532 Social and Moral Development
Spring 3 EDEC 538 Cognitive Language Development in Early Childhood
Spring 3 EDEC 547 Advanced Field Experience

Course Descriptions

Summer: 12-week session

EDEC 531: The Role of Play in Development and Learning (3 units): In this course, we examine theories from developmental psychology, education, and anthropology to look at the role of play in human experience, from infancy to adulthood. The history of play in educational practice and its relationship to concepts such as ritual, work, and academic achievement and to play therapy are explored. Some of the activities students will carry out include: analyzing their own experiences with play and learning, studying children and adults at play, talking to people about personal understandings of play, evaluating contemporary toys and games in light of gender and cultural stereotypes, and creating a position paper on the value of play. View a sample syllabus

Fall: semester-long class

EDEC 532: Social and Moral Development (3 units):In this course students will learn about children’s emotional, social and moral development from birth till age eight; the impact of race, gender, income, and ethnicity on children’s social and emotional development; the main contributions of Piaget, Kohlberg and Gilligan to moral development theory and research; the design of inclusive and developmentally appropriate educational experiences that promote social and moral development (Social Emotional Learning) for children with diverse backgrounds and characteristics; different procedures to assess children’s social and emotional competencies; attachment theory, and how these principles apply to early education and child-care settings; how children develop and view friendships; the main contributions of brain research to the understanding of social and emotional development and children’s mental health; the impact of early adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) on later development; how to work collaboratively with families and communities to promote social and moral development in children. Students will plan, implement, and report on an action research project that answers specific questions dealing with social, moral, and emotional development in early childhood education.

Spring: two half-semester sessions

EDEC 538: Cognitive and Language Development in Early Childhood (3 units):This course focuses on the cognitive and language development of children from birth through middle childhood and on how we can support children’s learning and development in different educational settings. Major theorists in the field will be studied and recent research will be reviewed, with particular emphasis on the advances in our knowledge regarding brain development and the impact on early experiences. The role of culture and family context will be discussed, as well as issues related to dual language learning. Different early education models, approaches or programs will be analyzed in terms of how they address cognitive and language development. Assessment methods and approaches will be studied, in order that students will increase their ability to make developmentally appropriate choices for curriculum development and assessment of children.

EDEC 547: Advanced Field Experience (3 units): Students will participate in Moodle (online classroom) learning activities and arrange to do 60 hours of fieldwork in an Early Care and Education setting (birth to age 8). Field experiences will include observations, designing and implementing educational activity plans, and collaboration with parents and other ECE professionals. The focus of the course will be integrated curriculum, with an emphasis on project-based learning. In addition to field experiences, students will complete academic and professional readings and reflective assignments.

Learning Objectives

Students who complete this program will gain strong skills that will help them grow personally and professionally. They will be able to:

  • apply their understanding of young children’s characteristics and needs, and of multiple interacting influences on children’s development and learning, to create environments that are healthy, respectful, supportive, and challenging for each child.
  • value the importance and complex characteristics of children’s families and communities. They will use this understanding to create respectful, reciprocal relationships that support and empower families, and to involve all families in their children’s development and learning.
  • understand the goals, benefits, and uses of assessment. Students will use systematic observations, documentation, and other effective assessment strategies in a responsible way, in partnership with families and other professionals, to positively influence the development of every child.
  • use their own knowledge and other resources to design, implement, and evaluate a meaningful, challenging curriculum that promotes comprehensive developmental and learning outcomes for every young child.

Applicability to a Master's Program

Students who complete the ECE Certificate and are subsequently accepted into the SSU program leading to a Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education may apply the Certificate courses EDEC 531, 532, and 538 towards partial fulfillment of the requirements for that program. To be accepted for this purpose, these classes must be completed with a grade of B or better. Please note there is a seven-year limit on coursework that can be counted for a Master’s degree, so plan accordingly. Students wishing to use these units toward other Master’s programs should consult with their target institution.