2023-2024 Catalog

Early Childhood Education

  • Early Childhood Development Certificate (47 credits)
  • Associate of Arts Degree (A.A.) (94 credits)
  • Bachelor of Science Degree (B.S.) (92 credits)
  • Total credits for Bachelor of Science (94+92 = 186 credits total)

Program Description

The mission of the Early Childhood Education Program is to graduate teacher candidates who demonstrate competency in professional knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values concerning: child development and the learning process; curriculum development and implementation; family and community relationships; assessment; and professionalism in order to effectively teach young children while involving the child’s family and community.

Successful completion of specific coursework in the early childhood program can lead to a Specialized Permissive Competency in Early Childhood Education for those seeking Elementary licensure in Montana. This program is accredited by the Montana Board of Public Education.


Transfer Students


Students who have successfully finished the first two years of course work at an institution participating in an accepted SKC articulation agreement have the opportunity to complete the ECE Bachelor’s program at SKC. All courses taken under this agreement are guaranteed to transfer completely. This ensures incoming transfer students a junior status in the program. Junior status means the student must earn the required 98-quarter credits to complete the ECE Bachelor Degree. The courses required are outlined in the Early Childhood Education – Transfer Student Curriculum section included in the following pages.

Career Opportunities

Candidates who graduate with an Associate’s Degree in Early Childhood Education are qualified to teach in programs for young children including Early Head Start, Head Start, childcare centers, family childcare homes, and in public schools as paraprofessionals. A.A. graduates often continue on to earn a Bachelor of Science Degree in Early Childhood Education preparing them to be professionals in the early childhood education field in such positions as lead educator, director or manager, and adult educator or trainer.

After meeting specified requirements as outlined in the Education Department Student Handbook, candidates may enroll in the Early Childhood Teacher Education Program (ECTEP) for third and fourth year courses.

Student Learning Outcomes

Early Childhood Education Associate of Arts Degree and Bachelor of Science Degree candidates will demonstrate skills, dispositions and knowledge in relationship to the below listed National Association for the Education of Young Children Professional Standards for Preparing Early Childhood Practitioners, Montana's Early Learning Standards, as well as the Central Beliefs of the SKC Division of Education. Bachelor of Science candidates will build upon the foundation of skills, dispositions and knowledge developed during participation in the Associate of Arts Degree in Early Childhood Education.


Standard 1. Child Development and Learning in Context   Early childhood candidates (a) are grounded in an understanding of the developmental period of early childhood from birth through age 8 across developmental domains.  They (b) understand each child as an individual with unique developmental variations.  Early childhood educators (c) understand that children learn and develop within relationships and within multiple contexts, including families, culture, languages, communities, and society.  They (d) use this multidimensional knowledge to make evidence based decisions about how to carry out their responsibilities.


Standard 2. Family-Teacher Partnerships and Community Connections   Early childhood candidates understand that successful early childhood education depends upon the educators’ partnership with the families of the young children they serve.  They (a) know about, understand, and value the diversity in family characteristics.  Early childhood educators (b) use this understanding to create respectful, responsive, reciprocal relationships with families and to engage with them as partners in their young children’s development and learning.  They (c) use community resources to support young children’s learning and development and to support children’s families, and they build connections between early learning settings, schools, and community organizations and agencies. 

Standard 3. Child Observation, Documentation, and Assessment.  Early childhood candidates (a) understand that the primary purpose of assessment is to inform instruction and planning in early learning settings. They (b) know how to use observation, documentation, and other appropriate assessment approaches and tools.  Early childhood educators (c) use screening and assessment tools in ways that are ethically grounded and developmentally, culturally, ability, and linguistically appropriate to document developmental progress and promote positive outcomes for each child.  Early childhood educators (d) build assessment partnerships with families and professional colleagues.

Standard 4  Developmentally,  Culturally, and Linguistically Appropriate Teaching Practices.  Early childhood candidates understand that teaching and learning with young children in a complex enterprise, and its details vary depending on children's ages and characteristics and on the settings in which teaching and learning occur.  They (a) understand and demonstrate positive, caring, supportive relationships  and interactions as the foundation for their work with young children.  They (b) understand and use teaching skills that are responsive to the learning trajectories of young children and to the needs of each child.  Early childhood educators (c) use a broad repertoire of developmentally appropriate and culturally, and linguistically relevant, anti-bias, and evidence-based teaching approaches that reflect the principles of universal design for learning. 
Standard 5 Knowledge, Applications, and Integration of Academic Content in the Early Childhood Curriculum.  Early childhood candidates have knowledge of the content of the academic disciplines (e.g. language and literacy, the arts, mathematics, social studies, science, technology and engineering, physical education) and the pedagogical methods for teaching each discipline.  They (a) understand the central concepts, the methods, and tools of inquiry, and the structures in each academic discipline.  Educators (b) understand pedagogy, including how children learn and process information in each discipline, the learning trajectories for each discipline, and how teachers use this knowledge to inform their practice. They (c) apply this knowledge using early learning standards and other resources to make decisions about spontaneous and planned learning experiences and curriculum development, implementation, and evaluation to ensure that learning will be stimulating, challenging, and meaningful to each child.
Standard 6 Professionalism as an Early Childhood Educator.   Early childhood candidates (a) identify and participate as members of the early childhood profession.  They serve as informed advocates for young children, for the families of the children in their care, and for the early childhood profession.  They (b) know and use ethical guidelines and other early childhood professional guidelines.  They (c) have professional communication skills that effectively support their relationships and work with young children, families, and colleagues.  Early childhood educators (d) are continuous, collaborative learners who (e) develop and sustain the habit of reflective and intentional practice in their daily work with young children and as members of the early childhood profession. 

Central Beliefs of SKC's Division of Education

Instruction and curriculum in the professional education programs at Salish Kootenai College are guided by five central principles and beliefs that respect and reflect the rich, holistic perspectives of the Séliš, Ql̓ispé and Ksanka people.

A. Culturally revitalizing and sustaining instruction and curriculum will lead education to its promise of opportunity and equity. 

B. Creating connections with the larger community promotes the construction of knowledge.

C. Reflective practice leads to the continuous flourishing of both teacher and student.

D. Each learner's uniqueness, when valued and invited in all of its diverse forms, enriches the learning experience.

E. Demonstration and application of communication, critical thinking, cultural understanding, and the principles of citizenship cultivates teachers as community leaders. 



Students must submit to a multiple-level background check for this program.

Students must receive a "C" or better in all required education methods course while maintaining a 3.0 GPA in these courses and an overall GPA of 2.75 or higher to graduate from this program.