Types of Courses

Social Contexts of Early Childhood Education

Using a sociological lens, this class examines the constructs of the child and childhood through a range of social, political, educational, and economic contexts.  Our investigations will include such fields as culture, class, gender, race, sexuality, and so on, and within those fields, we will explores such contexts as the school, classroom, and family.  Lastly, we consider how one might research these varying contexts of children and childhood as well as how one might address the range of issues we explore in the context of the early education classroom.

Critical Perspectives in Early Childhood Education

The goal of this course is to assist students in becoming critical scholars of early childhood education research, practice, and curricula.  To foster this skill, we read a range of works that question or deconstruct many of the assumptions that are foundational to the field.  Furthermore, this course will offers students the opportunity to begin to develop their own critical voice that questions not only the ever-present assumptions that exist within early childhood education but also their own beliefs, theories, and ideas about working with young children, their families, and the communities in which they live and work.

Global, Comparative Early Childhood

The purpose of this class is to look globally and locally at the lives of young children. What does it mean to go to school in India, Italy or Japan? How are young children treated, perceived or disciplined differently depending on where they live? Using work from early childhood scholars within Anthropology, Child Development, Psychology, Sociology and Early Childood Education, this class centers on international, racial, cultural and indigenous perspectives on early childhood as well as the types of fieldwork and comparative inquiry that international research requires. The goal of this class is to deepen student knowledge about global and comparative research in the  field of early childhood and to prepare a research proposal for a comparative and/or international project with or about young children.

Major Theorists in Early Childhood

The purpose of this class is to look at how a range of important theorists have tried to explain childhood and early learning. Although there are many traditional and contemporary theorists of early childhood education to choose from, this class focuses on a mix of theorists from the fields of anthropology, psychology, philosophy, education and child development to look at particular ways in which children can and do experience agency, power and diversity in school. We will also draw from critical pedagogy as well as post-structural theory and nueroscience to understand new directions in how children experience early learning. In addition to a diverse set of fields, we will also draw from lesser known work of early women in the U.S. concerned with early chldhood education and whose ideas made an impact on how we collectively see children today in the U.S. The goal of this class is to deepen student knowledge about early childhood educational theory and theory’s connection to how agency, power and diversity are conceptualized in early childhood education.

Early Childhood Education Programs

The purpose of this course is to explore a range of early childhood education programs and practices. Through our analysis of these components of early childhood education, we examine the philosophical, theoretical, historical, and empirical bases for such approaches to the field.  While we will cover specific approaches to early childhood education such as the Montessori approach and programs such as Head Start, we will also question how these various models of ECE define their role within the education of the young child as well as define the role of the child, teacher, and family.

Theories of Curriculum for Prekindergarten and Kindergarten

This course explores the central issues and theoretical orientations of curriculum theory and practice in public early childhood and elementary school programs in the U.S.  To do this, we examine these issues from the perspective of pre-k and K teachers and teacher educators and to theorize the ways in which these issues are likely to impact their daily work with young children and preservice teachers.  Moreover, this course is designed to help students begin to develop their own answers to such questions: what should be taught in pre-k and K and why, or what kinds of educational activities are the most worthwhile for young children?

Parents and Education

This course centers on the parent/teacher/school relationship and how inequitable treatment affects parent “involvement”, student learning and academic success. This course looks at parents and education through the eyes of teachers, parents and researchers all engaged in understanding the relationship between families and schooling in the U.S. We will cover racial, class-based, linguistic, cultural and global perspectives on the relationship of parents and education and use multiple theoretical frameworks to both understand and challenge current approaches towards parental involvement in school.

Play & Early Development

The purpose of this course is to provide theoretical and empirical bases for understanding the play of young children.  The roots of human cognition, motivation, and communication will be explored through the ideas of Vygotsky, Piaget, Erikson, Bateson, and others.  The role of play in human development will be elaborated through a look at research on patterns and processes of play.  Classroom presentations will be extended through an assignment involving observation of young children's play.

Early Childhood Education Program Development

This course is designed to introduce students to the skills needed to create an effective program that is appropriate for working with young children in early learning environments. To do that, the course begins by discussing the basic components of a curriculum, which is at the heart of program development. Next, it provide an in-depth investigation into how one formulates and implements a developmentally appropriate curriculum that is rooted in the principles of how children learn and the principles of intentional teaching. Furthermore, it discusses the impact of various contextual factors on program development such as the role of context, including state, district, and program policies, the teacher, the child and her family, instructional strategies, assessment, play, developmental domains, and academic content. By the end of this course, students will have a foundational understanding of how an early childhood educator goes about formulating, implementing, and regulating a developmentally appropriate program for young children.

Environmental Education for Young Children

This course brings a cross-disciplinary approach to environmental education with young children; bringing environmental education into conversation with work in children's geographies, environmental science, the environmental humanities and Indigenous studies. This approach is intended to foreground ‘the environment’ and ‘nature’ as contested terms that need to be contextualized, such as in ways that consider their historical, economic, social, material, and cultural constructions. We will also situate understandings of the 'environment' and ‘nature’ within current times of planetary damage and environmental injustices. The course provides opportunities to explore possibilities for creative, ethical, decolonial, place-attuned and justice-oriented curricular and pedagogical possibilities in environmental education with young children.