What’s the Difference Between Elementary Education and Early Childhood Education?

Early childhood education and elementary education in the United States make up overlapping slices of the education industry. They are dedicated to teaching young learners: students aged from birth through approximately eight years old for early childhood, and those from 1st grade to 5th grade in elementary school. An early childhood education job description would only differ slightly from an elementary education job description, in that the teaching methodologies would be designed for slightly older students. A bachelor’s degree in elementary education or an early childhood education bachelor’s is the starting point for becoming a teacher.

What is Early Childhood Education (ECE)? 

In the mid-20th Century, parents began placing their children in preschools (or early childhood education facilities) as it had become more commonplace for mothers to choose to pursue a professional career, outside their homes. In 1965, the federal government set out to determine what is early childhood education. In response, the Department of Health and Human Services created the Head Start program. Head Start was one of the first solutions to the need for additional professional early childhood educators.  

These early learner education environs (think kindergarten or preschool) were implemented by the educational leaders to care for the curious early learners, who are still too young to enter public school.

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Elementary Education vs Early Childhood Education

Early childhood development is the process by which a child learns how to be in this world. What is early childhood development as it relates to early childhood education in the United States? An early childhood education vs elementary education degree both provide the training and skills that allows an early childhood educator to help students in their – 

  • Physical Development — social scientists denote that a child’s highest levels of activity happen between three and five years of age. 
  • Cognitive Development — early learners fall within Piaget’s sensorimotor and pre-operational phases during his pre-defined early childhood development theories.
  • Psychosocial Development — psychosocial skills developed in a young child’s informative years stay with them for a lifetime.
  • Linguistic Development — linguistic developments occur in a young child’s psyche and, by practicing the linguistic mechanisms.
  • Emotional Development — Young children begin to experience strong emotions (both positive and negative) during the first few years of their lives. 

The responsibilities of these early childhood educators are similar; however, an early childhood education vs elementary education salary would likely fall in a similar salary range. In both areas, special education teachers are incorporated, as inclusive special education has become the standard.

Job & Salary Statistics Regarding Kindergarten & Elementary School Teachers

According to the federal government’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for kindergarten and elementary school teachers in 2020 was nearly $58,000. It is also noted that kindergarten and elementary education teachers are required to attain a baccalaureate degree to teach.

Statisticians for the federal government anticipated that Kindergarten & Elementary School Teachers’ job growth to remain at about 7% (about the average of all industries in the country) through the calendar year 2026.

Additionally, these statistical whizzes estimate that there will be another 115,000+ Kindergarten & Elementary School Teacher jobs available in the country by 2026. Further information regarding state and area data is available on the BLS’ website.

Job & Salary Statistics Regarding Early Childhood Education (Preschool) Teachers

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for preschool teachers in 2020 was nearly $29,750. However, preschool teachers are typically only required to complete an associate’s degree in an early childhood degree program. 

The federal government’s statisticians note; however, that the demand for early childhood education professionals will grow at 10% through the year 2026 — a growth rate that exceeds the country’s average growth rate of all industries. 

Additionally, it is expected that by the year 2026, there will be another 50,000+ early childhood teaching jobs available to qualified early childhood education professionals. Check out specific and state data on the BLS website.

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