Early Childhood Education
Early Childhood Education academic staff contribute to and deliver Institute of Education programmes at undergraduate and postgraduate levels in the context of primary teaching and the professional practice in early years education and care. Students undertaking early childhood education modules will explore the relationship between young children’s development, their learning and high quality early experiences in the formative years (birth-six years) of a child’s life.
For further information about Early Childhood Education at Level 8 degree or Level 9 master programmes, click on the tabs below.
The Bachelor of Early Childhood Education is a Level 8 degree programme that prepares students for professional practice and ethical leadership in early childhood education and care. The teaching and learning experiences emphasise early childhood experiences as the foundation for lifelong development and educational experience. Students will engage in teaching and learning experiences that promote child-centred, high quality early childhood education delivered by a professional workforce. The programme develops graduates that are knowledgeable and skilled in understanding, supporting and enhancing the lives of infants and young children (0-6 years) within a range of local and global settings including; private early childhood services, community and voluntary organisations and government agencies.
The BECE is a four year programme constructed with careful attention to continuity across the BECE Modules, This ensures secure knowledge with opportunities to apply and extend understanding of how children think, learn and develop within their families, communities and wider socio-cultural context. Teaching and learning experiences for students are underpinned by Core Concepts with each year of study influenced by Thematic Approaches.
Professional Practice and Placement
Professional practice and work-based experience is a significant component of the BECE programme. Placement experience across each year provides students with opportunities to apply knowledge, deepen understanding and further develop professional practice across a range of early childhood settings. Students are supported and supervised before, during and after placement experience to ensure meaningful learning and reflective practice.
Following successful completion of second year, students on the BECE programme have the opportunity to apply to the Erasmus Programme that provides a unique opportunity for both students to gain international experience and perspectives on early childhood settings in Europe.
Career Opportunities and Graduate Opportunities
Graduates of the Bachelor of Early Childhood are equipped with knowledge, expertise and extensive professional experience that prepares for professional practice and leadership roles within the early childhood sector both locally and internationally. Graduates will also have career opportunities in related fields of professional practice, further education private, state and voluntary organisations.
All students take three early childhood education modules over the duration of the four year BEd degree programme. Through participation in the workshops, students develop their understandings of the young child’s holistic well-being, development and learning. Given the centrality of play in early childhood education, students become familiar with the different kinds of play, in particular they explore a range of strategies to promote learning across the curriculum through play in early education settings. Students acquire teaching strategies which support the promotion of young children’s oral language development and mathematical thinking in early years settings, especially in infant classrooms; as well as acquiring skills and knowledge to plan for and develop appropriate integrated activities and experiences for young children.
In the second year of the BEd degree, students choose a major specialism and continue it on for third and fourth year. Early childhood education is one of the options offered and in which students acquire further in-depth knowledge of how young children from birth to six develop and learn and explore issues that impact on the development, education and well-being of young children. It is anticipated that graduates will lead efforts within schools to provide optimal standards of early childhood education and care.
Final Year Research Project
In the final year of the degree, students conduct an action research project. Students may wish to select a research project which focuses on a particular area in the field of early childhood education with the aim of broadening their expertise to lead early childhood education in primary schools.
As part of the overall BEd school placement experience, students may have the opportunity to put theory from their early childhood education modules into practice by completing their placement in an infant classroom. Students who undertake the early childhood major specialism will spend some time in a in a range of early childhood settings working with babies, toddlers and young children also.
Opportunities to study early childhood education abroad
In third year, students may have the opportunity to participate in the Erasmus programme which allows students to study in an international third level institution and may choose to undertake an early childhood education module if on offer.
All students take one early childhood education modules over the duration of the two year PMEP programme. Through participation in the workshops, students develop their understandings of the young child’s holistic well-being, development and learning. Given the centrality of play in early childhood education, students become familiar with the different kinds of play, in particular they explore a range of strategies to promote learning across the curriculum through play in early education settings in primary schools. Through a consideration of the elements of language, students come to appreciate how young children are enabled to use oral language in an increasingly proficient way. Students acquire teaching strategies which support the promotion of young children’s oral language development and mathematical thinking in early years settings, especially in infant classrooms.
In preparation for school placement, students are provided with online support from Early Childhood Education staff to further develop their knowledge and skills to plan for and develop appropriate activities and experiences for young children in the infant classroom.
As part of the overall PMEP school placement experience, students may have the opportunity to put theory from their early childhood education module into practice by completing their placement in an infant classroom.
Early Childhood Education Modules
Postgraduate students who select the Early Childhood Education as their specialism take three early childhood education modules in the first year of the two year MEd programme. In addition to three MEd core modules, the three early childhood education modules develop and extend students’ understandings in relation to pedagogy, curriculum and assessment in the early years of primary school, at both a theoretical and practical level. Students further explore and analyse national early childhood education frameworks , curriculum and policy developments. Course work enhances students’ abilities to reflect on, provide and advise on quality educational provision for young children in their own professional setting and to provide leadership in early childhood education.
In the second year of the programme, students conduct research on a particular area of early childhood education.
Most recent thesis titles are:
- Eliciting young children's perspectives on the significance of and opportunities for friendship development in the first year of primary school
- Facilitating mathematical discussion through the use of picture books in an Irish Senior Infant classroom
- Creating an outdoor environment to enrich children's holistic learning and development
- Interactions to support mathematical learning in the early language immersion classroom
- 'We are busy and we can't stop digging!': unlocking the potential of outdoor play
- An emergent approach to teaching mathematics in Junior Infants
- Páistí ag spraoi: second-language acquisition during play
As required for coursework, students will work with young children, generally in their own professional early years classroom.