Curriculum

Bachelors Degree - Early Care & Education

Coursework and Degree Requirements

Starting fall 2023, the ECEMS program will be offering an updated curriculum to better meet the needs of working professionals. The ECEMS program now requires two hands-on, in-person practicum experiences coinciding with course work. These placements need to be in at least two different settings, with two different age groups, and two different Cooperating Teachers. Each institution is updating their catalog to reflect these changes so please contact your advisor with any questions you may have.

Pre-Practicum Courses

Prior to enrolling in Practicum Experiences with Young Children students must take six credit hours including Introduction to Early Care and Education in a Mobile Society (Professional Development) and either (a) Child Development―Birth to 3 (Infant/Toddler) or (b) Child Development―4 to 8 (Early Childhood). The Child Development course not previously taken must be taken concurrently with Practicum.

This course focuses on development from birth to age three. It covers major theories and research about development including growth patterns, influences of disabilities and risk factors, environmental factors and their effects on attachment styles, language acquisition, brain development, cognitive development, social-emotional development, and perceptual and sensory motor skills.
This course focuses on development from ages four through eight. It covers major theories and research about development including growth patterns, influences of disabilities and risk factors, environmental factors and their effects on attachment styles, language acquisition, brain development, cognitive development, social-emotional development, and perceptual and sensory motor skills.
This course explores the role of a professional as a teacher, administrator, or advocate in early childhood programming. Students learn about professionalism and ethics, identifying child abuse, and applying universal precautions. Additional topics are qualities of the early childhood educator, program models, working with children, and working with professional colleagues. During this course, students will meet with the Practicum Coordinator and begin preparations for the practicum experiences.

Practicum Experiences with Young Children (Formerly Practicum II)

Prior to enrolling in Practicum Experiences with Young Children students must take six credit hours including Introduction to Early Care and Education in a Mobile Society (Professional Development) and either (a) Child Development―Birth to 3 (Infant/Toddler) or (b) Child Development―4 to 8 (Early Childhood). The Child Development course not previously taken must be taken concurrently with Practicum.

Practicum is an opportunity for practicum students to have a guided learning experience in a professional agency that provides services to children and families. Experiences and projects at the practicum site provide practicum students with opportunity to use and implement theories and practices learned in other ECEMS classes. Topics of this practicum include assessment of the early childhood classroom, assessment of child development, and use of assessment data to plan classroom curriculum. NOTE: Prior to enrolling in Practicum Experiences with Young Children students must take six credit hours including Introduction to Early Care and Education in a Mobile Society (Professional Development) and either (a) Child Development - Birth to 3 (Infant/Toddler) or (b) Child Development - 4 to 8 (Early Childhood). The Child Development course not previously taken must be taken concurrently with Practicum.

Core Courses

These required courses may be completed anytime during the program.

This course covers issues surrounding the administration of early childhood programs including identification of community needs, analysis of business opportunities, the evaluation and appropriate use of space and quality programming, consideration of policy and legal responsibilities, and professionalism in the field. In addition, students in this course explore best practices in staff selection, training, coaching, and supervision.
In this course, university students learn to select, evaluate, and use appropriate assessment tools for children birth to age 8. Students use assessment data to inform decisions about teaching environments and practice and intervention. Topics also include ethical use of assessments, validity of assessments, multicultural sensitivity, and assessments for children with special needs.
This course provides university students with a working knowledge of developmentally appropriate practice in child guidance. This is accomplished through review of current guidance methods and programs to familiarize students with successful guidance techniques. By the end of this course, students develop their own approach to guidance based upon practices best suited to their own unique skills and strengths.
In this course, university students (1) learn and use assessment and documentation to inform curriculum, (2) plan and evaluate developmentally appropriate activities, and (3) learn about effective ways to share curriculum information with families. This course addresses all areas of developmental domains and content areas. The course includes issues related to diversity in family composition, culture, and individual abilities.
In this course, university students (1) learn and use assessment and documentation to inform curriculum, (2) plan and evaluate developmentally appropriate activities, and (3) learn about effective ways to share curriculum information with families. This course addresses all areas of developmental domains and content areas. The course includes issues related to diversity in family composition, culture, and individual abilities.
This course is an opportunity for university students to explore cultural diversity in daily life and beliefs in families with young children. The focus is on U.S. families with attention to the multiple cultures from which they come.
This course examines important elements for planning, promoting and maintaining healthy and safe learning/care environments. It incorporates topics of understanding childhood illnesses, healthy lifestyles, first aid, and care providers maintaining their own health. Course content also includes maintaining safe relationships with others and identifying and reporting abuse, neglect, and exploitation of children. Additional content is exploration of nutrients for life and feeding, food preparation and food safety, food allergies and intolerances, and appropriate feeding practices.
The course focus is on how electronic technology impacts development of young children in educational, home, and community environments and how technology can be used to enhance teaching and learning. Students learn to be critical thinkers and informed consumers of technology related to young children.
This course focuses on disability conditions, assessment and identification, interventions in inclusive environments, and collaborations among family members and service providers.
In this course, university students study and apply an ecological model to the understanding of variation in parental roles, perspectives, relationships, approaches, and challenges. Students develop knowledge and skills to connect successfully with and maintain relationships with a diverse group of families through multiple venues.

Senior Capstone Experience (Formerly Practicum III)

This course must be completed after the successful completion of all other ECEMS courses. Prior to enrolling in the Senior Capstone students must have Senior Standing and instructor permission to enroll. Check with your faculty advisor for more information.

This teaching practicum is a 15-week experience in which the university student demonstrates practical application of developmentally appropriate early childhood teaching techniques. Throughout the course, the university student gains feedback for development as a teacher. Practicum students are involved in observation and evaluation of classroom experiences, environmental design, classroom management, and parent communication.
Program Summary
Cost per credit hour:

2023-2024: $435
2024-2025: $440

Learn more about Tuition and Cost

Average time to complete: 28 months

48–51 Hours

University Contact
These campus coordinators can help you navigate Great Plains IDEA. Click on the university name to learn more about how Great Plains IDEA works at that campus. Iowa State Online
Rae Ann Montgomery
Janice Clawson
Melissa Sedlacek
University Members
Members of the Great Plains IDEA are universities accredited by a regional accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Member universities recruit, admit and graduate students, teach in an academic program and contribute to the leadership and maintenance of the alliance. Membership in the alliance is a selective process that engages institutional leadership at all levels.

Macy Burgess is a graduate of the family and community services degree.I made the decision to switch specializations in my master’s program mid-way through my degree. This change took me from the traditional on-campus experience to the Great Plains IDEA online experience. The switch seemed intimidating to me but it ended up being an incredible experience that I would not have gotten if I'd taken all classes at one university. Getting to dive into courses offered at schools all over the country was beneficial as it opened pathways for communication and sharing of knowledge with students and faculty I would not normally have interacted with. 

– – Macy Burgess, Family and Community Services Graduate Student,
See more testimonials »