This programme will nurture student’s personal, social and professional development with a view to developing a highly competent professional educator committed to providing high-quality care and education services for babies, toddlers, young children and their families based on the contemporary principles of best practice as determined by Aistear and Siolta.
Every child in Ireland is now entitled to a free preschool place for three hours every day from the age of 3 years until they start primary school. That’s almost 130,000 children. Well qualified early childhood professional educators are needed to provide these children with high-quality care and education experiences and to meet policy and legislative demands.
The programme provides a professional qualification in Early Childhood Studies which will enable the graduate educator to work in a variety of early years settings. Play is seen as central to young children’s’ development, and theory and practice are combined to encourage a critical, reflective practitioner.
The programme involves the study of related disciplines of early years’ care, education, psychology, sociology, law, creative play, interactions, social policy, research and health and welfare for children aged 0-6 years.
Work placement is an integral part of each stage with a Professional Practice Placement in each of the four years which provides students with an opportunity to learn from experience through supervised practice. Experiential learning in this way provides an opportunity for students to engage in reflective practice and enrich personal and professional development.
There are a wide variety of roles available in the Early Childhood Sector. Some of these include:
A Childcare Practitioner / Manager / Owner working in a sessional preschool or full day-care crèche
A Support and Development Officer in a City or County Childcare Committee
An Early Years Specialist (Quality Development) working directly with early years’ services helping to improve capacity to deliver high quality, inclusive early childhood care and education experiences for children and families
An Early Years Specialist (Access and Inclusion) supporting a range of diverse early years settings to assist them in enabling inclusive practice and the optimal participation of a child with disability in the preschool room
An Early Years Inspector (at the Department of Education and Skills) evaluating, advising, supporting and reporting to improve the quality of provision in Early Childhood Care and Education settings
An Early Years Siolta Coordinator providing assessment, mentoring, training and peer support to improve the quality of the services provided in Early Years Services such as crèches and preschools
An Entrepreneur developing a business idea
Work in other areas of Early Childhood such as policy development or as a researcher.