10 Reasons to Pursue Your Early Childhood Education Degree Online at Rasmussen
By Brianna Flavin on 08/17/2023
Every early childhood education (ECE) program is different. Even if you’ve narrowed down which type of program you are looking for, a certificate or diploma, Associate's or Bachelor's degree…etc, choosing the right university takes some research.
For most, the cost of tuition is one of the primary factors to consider. But after that, how do you choose between so many early childhood education options? How can you find out your instructors will really invest in their work, or if your program will nurture the spark of excitement you have to give young children a strong and loving foundation?
Every university has its own quirks. And the faculty who teach your courses will have a huge impact on your experience. The more you understand about the nuances of an ECE program, the better!
Learning early childhood education online might be a new experience, so we want to give you a good picture of what it could be like if you enroll. Whether you want to earn your early childhood education degree, certificate or just take some courses, read on to see if these programs are a good fit for you.
10 Reasons to consider Rasmussen for your early childhood education online program
1. Your teachers will come from all over the country with diverse backgrounds
One benefit of attending Rasmussen’s online early childhood education programs is that our instructors live in so many different states and bring such a wide array of perspectives to their teaching.
“Faculty in this program have a very diverse set of backgrounds, both in terms of their culture and their experiences in ECE,” says Mary Muhs, associate dean of education at Rasmussen University. “Our instructors have been Head Start teachers, special education teachers, family home teachers, consultants and advocates for ECE…the list goes on.”
“Our instructors help students see the kinds of options out there by sharing their own career paths,” Muhs explains. When your teachers have that wealth of different experiences in their backgrounds, you could learn about roles you’ve never heard of.
Learning an ECE concept can be so much easier when your instructors have a wealth of anecdotes and examples they can share.
2. You’ll have scenario-based assignments and projects, not exams
“We don’t have multiple choice tests or exams,” Muhs says, explaining that the goal for the ECE courses was to provide more variety in how students engage with the material they learn.
For example, Muhs says one course might give you a detailed scenario or case study about a child and her family. Then the requirement will be—Tell us how you’d apply the content of this course to this child’s situation.
Or if you’ve been learning about risky play, Muhs says the course might ask you to imagine you are working in a childcare center and need to write a letter to the center director advocating for more risky play opportunities for the children and offering safe activity ideas. "You will need to write papers in many of the courses," Muhs says. "But it's not just about showing your understanding of the material. Writing is an important skill in ECE."
It might surprise you how often a childcare director or a teacher in an infant or toddler classroom needs to write for their job. Communication with families is huge, as well as within your working environment. Whether you want to open your own family childcare center, find a great nannying position or draft curriculum for little ones, being able to write well is extremely important.
"My favorite courses to teach are the exploration courses," says Deidra Boodoo, Assistant Professor of Education at Rasmussen University. She's been teaching these courses for over ten years at Rasmussen. "The exploration courses have a variety of creative assignments. The students create mind maps, family resources, newsletters, lesson plans and Power Points to show off their skills in early education."
3. Our faculty keep things personal
Your professors can make or break your experience in a program. This is probably even more true in an online program. If you have an instructor who feels distant—you might feel pretty distant too. And that’s the last thing you want in this field, where genuinely believing in the importance of ECE and young children is critical.
“Our ECE program excels in faculty members who are student-focused,” Boodoo says. “They are interested in the growth and development of the students and have their best interest in mind.” Your instructors don't just want to teach you the right materials and skills—they also want you to have a good experience as you learn, and that means they want to understand who you are.
“We know we need to understand your life experiences and where you are coming from,” says Doreen Anzalone, ECE Instructor at Rasmussen University. The qualities totally individual to you will also become part of who you are as a teacher or child care provider.
With the right support, these traits can truly shine and become something beautiful to the young children you might work with. A practical part of making that happen at Rasmussen University is through faculty who really want to interact with you.
4. If you’re already working with children, you can make your job part of the coursework
Early childhood educators need to observe children and note developmental markers they can see. As you learn about early childhood, you'll need to practice this kind of observation. Other times, you’ll need to watch a child play and come up with an activity you could offer to further their learning.
“Because we’re an online school, we have videos you can use to complete this kind of work,” Muhs says. “But many of our students are working with children already, and they can observe the children at their jobs.”
This can lead to immediately enriching experiences in your own work and give you the chance to integrate your learning while you still have the benefit of an instructor to talk things through.
“Typically, we’ll also ask you to add in your own experience,” Muhs says. If you’ve ever been in a certain situation, you might share how it went or if you would change anything in how you responded.
“My students will often say, ‘wow, I’m going to start using that at work this week!’ when we discuss a concept,” Anzalone says. “It’s so rewarding to see them bring things right into their classrooms.”
5. Your instructors will be great at communication
"You don’t want to be in a program where you can’t get a hold of your professors or can’t get anyone to explain when you don’t understand,” Anzalone says. She says reliable correspondence and instructor engagement is one of the strengths of the early childhood education programs at Rasmussen.
"Student communication is ongoing, sometimes daily," Boodoo says. She communicates with students via emails, phone calls, text messages and video meetings over teams when needed. Lots of the correspondence comes from students asking questions or seeking clarification, so Boodoo responds with examples to help ground a concept in reality. "Students love examples! So, I will share examples of experiences I've had within the topic."
"When I receive an email from a student, I reply as soon as I see the email," Boodoo says, adding that student needs are usually immediate. "When they text or call me, I usually respond as soon as I see or hear the messages."
6. We focus on all the ECE roles outside of the public preschool teacher position
Many early childhood education programs focus on what preschool teachers in a public-school setting need to know, according to Muhs. If you want to be a preschool teacher at a public school, those are great—but what if you are looking into other ECE career options?1
“If you aren’t working in that specific [public preschool] career and setting, with those specific constraints and supports, that traditional focus might not fit your work as well,” Muhs explains. “Our program is made for people who want to work in all the rest of those early childhood education positions.”
This can be everything from nannies to center-based or faith-based teachers, before and after school teachers, infant and toddler teachers, family child care providers and more. “Early childhood education is so much wider than preschool, and we include that in our courses.”
Our programs are not designed to meet, and do not meet, the educational requirements for licensure to teach in public preschools, or kindergarten, elementary, or secondary schools in any state. These programs can apply to professionals who want to work with elementary school-aged children in other settings, such as summer camps or wrap care.
Rasmussen University’s ECE programs focus on so many of the other ECE roles out there.
7. You’ll learn about infants, toddlers and preschool-aged children
Another benefit of this wide-role program focus is that your courses and assignments will push you to understand those first five years of a child’s development in totality.
“When you learn about infants, toddlers and preschoolers together, you get a better picture of the whole child through development,” Muhs says, adding that the early childhood curriculum in our ECE programs covers these ages for that exact reason.
“We’ve made it very intentional that we focus on the whole age range and various settings.”
This also means that your assignments won’t just ask you to create activities for preschool-aged kids. You’ll do a bit of everything.
But if you know, for example, that you want to work with infants, Muhs says courses typically let you gravitate toward the age-group you want to focus on as you complete the assignments.
8. You’ll learn alongside passionate people
“The early childhood education students who come to our programs really have a passion for young children,” Anzalone says. “They really want to learn more about how to create effective learning environments.”
Many students will have some childcare work experience already--they’ve seen the need for developmentally-appropriate and intentional early education. Anzalone says that’s how she got started in ECE as well. In her early twenties, she worked in childcare settings that treated their work like babysitting.
“In those environments, the teacher sets up the art projects, cuts out all the shapes, does all the work, and the kids create these cookie-cutter projects that don’t engage them very long,” Anzalone says. When she went to a center that prioritized child development, she was amazed at how the teachers interacted with the kids, even the infants and toddlers, to create an interesting and enriching experience.
“Once you have your eyes opened like that, and you see how the children respond, you want to learn as much as you can,” Anzalone explains. Your peers in the ECE program at Rasmussen will also come from so many different backgrounds that you'll likely see a wide range of approaches and understandings.
"The ECE program excels in bringing in diverse groups of students from all over the world into the program," Boodoo says. "I've had students from the Bahamas, Hawaii, and Guam." She explains that it enriches the whole environment to learn about how students in many different states and countries experience ECE. Comparing and contrasting how teachers interact with children in so many places can also help to highlight the incredible importance of these early years.
“Our students feel that sense of inspiration. Once you understand that we really are at the beginning—that these first five years of a child’s life and brain development shape the foundation for everything in their lives—ECE becomes a passion.”
9. The programs are made for working adults
We made these online courses knowing that many of our students are also working full time, caring for children or family members—and handling a lot of responsibility at once.
It takes determination and even bravery to enroll in an ECE program when you already have so much going on. And we seriously respect the passion and motivation in every student who decides to take this step.
“The faculty here are very supportive of their adult learners,” Anzalone says. “They understand how difficult it is to balance work and family responsibilities with an education. Most of us have been there too.”
On top of that, our online ECE program uses an Empowered Learning™ approach to give you more control on how your program will fit into your schedule. As long as you check in every 14 days and complete all assignments by the end of the term, the pacing is up to you. You can schedule things out, work in surges or arrange assignments around your life events.
10. Our instructors really love what they teach
Your early childhood education teachers are probably the most important part of your experience in an early childhood education program.
“I’ve been teaching with Rasmussen for 10 years,” Anzalone says. “And I like all the courses I’ve taught.” Some of her total favorites include Contemporary Families, Positive Guidance and the Capstone course. “It’s really the bones of what you need.”
During the capstone course, Anzalone says they focus on how to individualize instruction for each child. “We talk about how children come to us with culture, language and learning styles very specific to their homes and families.” During this part of the course, Anzalone often sees a lightbulb go on for students.
“The whole program we’ve been emphasizing the importance of having strong partnerships with families, and it suddenly clicks for students that the reason for those partnerships isn’t just learning support—a child’s family is so much of who they are. How can you individualize instruction if you don’t know anything about that context?”
Students in the ECE program will say “I’ve never heard of this before, and I’m going to take it back to my classroom,” Anzalone says.
Do you want to earn your early childhood education degree online?
Working with young children tends to happen in person, in real time. This work is both essential and rewarding. With every infant snuggle, with every delighted toddler giggle, early childhood educators make the world a good and beautiful place for the little lives in their care.
With child care shortages rising, we need passionate early childhood professionals now more than ever.2
Online education in ECE is made to fit into the life you are already living and the work you are already doing. Whether you are looking for an early childhood education degree, diploma or certificate—these courses are full of the critical knowledge and practical applications you need to navigate tough situations and nurture curiosity.
Check out Rasmussen University's Early Childhood Education Online Program page to see what the programs cost, how long they are likely to take and lots of other important details.
1Rasmussen University ECE programs do not prepare students for licensed teaching positions in any public school setting, but students will have the opportunity to help shape the futures of young children from birth to age six in a childcare or non-public school setting or leadership role.
2Hoff, Madison, (June, 2023) The childcare crisis is about to get worse with 3.2 million kids set to lose care this fall, Business Insider, https://www.businessinsider.com/childcare-crisis-is-about-to-get-worse-programs-closing-report-2023-6