I came to early childhood education as a career through a happy accident.
As a student working toward my teaching license, I always imagined I would work with high school students. Thanks to a clerical error, I found myself doing my student teaching requirements in a first grade classroom. It was either take the placement or put off graduation for a whole year, which wasn’t an option for me. So there I was walking into a first grade classroom thinking, “What I am going to do with these little children?”
Turns out it was the best mistake my university could have made, because I fell in love with the joy I felt at watching little minds unfold, and I’ve never looked back.
The importance of early childhood
After years of teaching preschoolers through grade three, Early Childhood Education became so much more to me than a job. It became the passion that fires me.
What is continually amazing about this field is how much we are learning about the importance of the birth through age 8. Development begins before birth, and every interaction a child has in the early years helps build the brain architecture that will support their development throughout their entire life. And early childhood advocates aren’t the only ones noticing the importance of these years. According to the work of Nobel Prize-winning economist James Heckman, investment in early childhood can yield a 13 percent rate of return. Which is simply a fancy way of saying that the more we take care of our youngest folks the more they grow up to be productive, contributing members of society.
Windows of opportunity
In fact, the early childhood years are the windows of opportunity where we can have the most impact. It makes sense! The best lessons you learned in life about getting along with others, trying your best, and believing in yourself came in your earliest years. Every day that I work in early childhood validates what I have always suspected – to build a thriving society, first take care of the children.
Answering the call to be an Early Childhood professional
The need is great. With more and more adults in the workforce, the demand for quality, affordable early childhood care is only rising. Jobs are plentiful in this field, from working as a one-on-one aide with a child with special challenges, to running a classroom or home-care program, to serving as a director, administrator, trainer, or community advocate.
In Colorado the demand for well-trained early childhood educators is outpacing the number of people entering the field. FRCC graduates often find themselves in the enviable position of being able to choose from a variety of job offers. And with statewide support through the free Colorado Shines quality initiative, Early Childhood professionals are finding more and more ways to build a thriving career.
Efforts in Early Childhood last a lifetime
I regularly find myself thinking back to that first grade classroom I found myself in all those years ago. I often get emails and social media updates from the families of those children, who are now having children of their own. It makes me pause with the awesome sense of excitement to know that my efforts at caring for and educating those children are now having an impact on the next generation. When I hear of a former student going on to earn a graduate degree in engineering or to write a novel, I think back to the science experiments and endless read alouds in my classrooms that helped shape those young minds. It sends an actual shiver down my spine.
FRCC open house
Now it’s your chance. The FRCC Larimer Campus is having an open house on April 3 (10 a.m.-1 p.m.) and April 4 (3 p.m.-6 p.m.) to showcase the need in our community for quality early childhood professionals and what opportunities are out there. Join us in the Longs Peak Student Center to discover what this career holds for you. Find more information about our Early Childhood Education program, including contact information for faculty advisors.
C’mon and pay us a visit or reach out for an advising appointment. It could be the first step in a career that has an impact you can only begin to imagine!