Real-World Experience, Classroom Preparation
When you earn a bachelor’s degree in Special Education: Early Childhood from the University of Northern Colorado, you’ll be fully prepared to begin an exciting and rewarding career educating young children with disabilities. The UNC program was created to help meet the escalating shortage of Early Childhood Special Education teachers in Colorado. Because of a reputation for graduating outstanding educators, the Colorado Legislature designated UNC as the primary institution for undergraduate and graduate teacher education in the state of Colorado.
The UNC Special Education: Early Childhood bachelor’s program encourages collaborative partnerships with families and the use of recommended practices and research-based strategies that are applicable across a range of abilities and cultural experiences. The degree program includes extensive practicum and field-based experience working with children in three age groups: birth to 3, 3 to 5 and 5 to 8. When you graduate from the program you will be recommended for licensure as an ECSE Teacher through Colorado Department of Education. You will also be recommended for Large Child Care Center Director Qualifications through Colorado Department of Human Services.
Sarah Gross, Special Education Major
Sarah grew up in a family of six children, and her experience with her two brothers’ disabilities sparked her interest in Special Education. “I’d heard so much about UNC’s program, and it’s very close knit. The faculty connection with students is phenomenal.
"We have professors who have had enormous experience in their field. They really make an effort to connect with us,” Sarah says. Sarah plans to attend graduate school, then hopes to work with students with significant needs, applying the lessons she’s learned in and out of the classroom.
“The biggest thing I have learned is that you have to be willing to roll with the punches and keep incredibly flexible and calm,” she says, adding that, over the course of the school year, she’s seen big changes in the children she’s taught. “They’ve opened up more; they’re more engaged with adults and people who aren’t their teachers or parents. It’s a great way to see them bloom and come into their own person.”
Sarah has served as president of UNC’s Student Council for Exceptional Children. She helps coordinate the monthly “Parent Respite Night” at Greeley’s Rodarte Center and co-presented research on Parent Respite with UNC student Emily Emerson at the Council for Exceptional Children’s annual international conference.
Special Education: Early Childhood Teaching Emphasis
If your desire is to become a teacher of young children with special needs or the director of a large childcare center serving such children, the curriculum and hands-on experiences you’ll gain through this degree program provide excellent preparation for your future. You'll learn in small classes from talented professors who are renowned scholars in the field of Special Education and who are continually researching and bringing their scholarly findings to the classroom. That means you'll have access to cutting edge research and discoveries in Special Education: Early Childhood. Your coursework will include training in educational theory and pedagogy along with in-depth experiential learning that includes more than 800 hours of field-based experience and student teaching.
Special Education: Early Childhood Liberal Arts Emphasis
The Liberal Arts emphasis doesn’t lead to a teaching license or qualification to be a director of a large childcare center. Hence, fewer credit hours are required (120) and students are not required to take the Professional Teacher Education Program (PTEP) courses. Students who choose this emphasis often are planning to enroll in graduate school after college graduation.
Your Future in Early Childhood Special Education
Opportunities for teachers of young children with special needs abound in Colorado. Because there is a severe shortage of qualified graduates available to fill these positions, your future as a graduate of UNC’s Special Education: Early Childhood program is extremely promising. When you graduate, you’ll be recommended for licensure as an ECSE Teacher through the Colorado Department of Education and for positions as director for Large Child Care Centers through the Colorado Department of Human Services.
Consider UNC’s B.A. in Early Childhood Special Education if you:
- Enjoy working with young children
- Are compassionate, resourceful, patient and organized
- Ways to foster collaborative relationships between parents and teachers of special needs children.
- How to use technological resources and evidence-based practices to enhance special education coursework.
- Extensive hands-on experience working directly with children through the 800 hours of field-based experience and student teaching.
- Typical and Atypical Development of Young Children
- Appropriate Assessment in Early Childhood Special Education
- Evidence-based Practices for Infants and Toddlers, Birth-3 years
- Collaborative Practice with Families and Professionals
- Young Children with Significant Support Needs
- Field Experience in Early Childhood Special Education – 3-8 years
Where Learning Goes Both Ways
UNC students gain practical experience in special education while giving back to the community through parent respite.
“I’d heard so much about UNC’s program, and it’s very close knit. The faculty connection with students is phenomenal. We have professors who have had enormous experience in their field. They really make an effort to connect with us.”
Sarah Gross, UNC Special Education graduate
Beyond the Classroom
Placing students in early intervention programs, special education classrooms and in childcare settings where they can gain hands-on experience is central to the Early Childhood Special Education program at UNC. This cooperative effort between UNC, the City of Greeley, parents and the community gives students an opportunity to observe and work with children with disabilities in their natural environments. Students benefit from real-life learning experiences and the opportunity to learn from professionals’ wisdom and experiences.
Where can your degree take you?
Demand for Early Childhood Special Education teachers is high in Colorado. Once you graduate and pass the state tests to gain licensure, you may work in early intervention programs, a preschool setting, or kindergarten up to the third grade classrooms. Outside of the classroom, there are positions in tutoring, childcare and educational administration.
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