Early Childhood Program

Mission: The Mission of the Early Childhood Program at Vanguard University is to provide a collaborative, reflective learning community where students are equipped with the knowledge, skills, and dispositions, in the context of a Biblical worldview, to serve as highly qualified early education professionals who support every young child’s learning and development to reach his/her God-given potential. 

Early Childhood courses are taught online in an accelerated format. Courses are taught by highly qualified instructors with educational and professional backgrounds in early childhood education. Christian philosophy and values are integrated throughout all classes. All courses cover the development of young children from infancy on, including addressing the diverse needs of an individual child. The early education classes at Vanguard University meet the formal requirements of Title 22 and Title V for the State of California. Additionally, they meet the formal educational training requirements for the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI), Preschool Associate Credential (PAC), and Director’s certificate.

Promoting Child Development and Learning

Students prepared in the Early Childhood Education degree program build a research-based understanding of child development and learning in the context of a Biblical worldview of early education. They use their understanding and knowledge of the young learner’s characteristics, needs, and multiple interacting influences on children’s development and learning, to create environments that are healthy, respectful, supportive, challenging, and Christ-honoring for each child.

Key elements

  • Knowing and understanding, from the perspective of a Biblical worldview, young children’s needs and characteristics, from birth through age 8.
  • Knowing and understanding the multiple interacting influences on children’s development and learning.
  • Using research-based, Biblically-grounded knowledge of child development to create learning environments that are healthy, respectful, supportive, challenging, and Christ-honoring for each child.

Building Family and Community Relationships

Students prepared in the Early Childhood Education degree program understand that successful early childhood education depends upon partnerships with children’s families and communities.  They know about, understand, and value the importance and complex characteristics of children’s families and communities. They use this understanding to create respectful, reciprocal relationships that support and empower parents in their God-given role as their child’s primary educator, and to involve all families in their child’s development and learning. They introduce families to the Church community and other community resources to provide support and spiritual guidance.

Key elements

  • Knowing about and understanding diverse family and community characteristics, integrating a Biblical vision of inclusiveness and God’s love for all people.
  • Supporting and empowering families, communities, and churches through respectful, reciprocal, responsive relationships, honoring Christ and the God-given role of the family.
  • Involving families, communities, and churches in young children’s development and learning.

Observing, Documenting, and Assessing to Support Young Children and Families

Students prepared in the Early Childhood Education degree program understand that child observation, documentation, and other forms of assessment are central to the practice of all early childhood professionals. They know about and understand the goals, benefits, and uses of assessment. They know about and use systematic observation, documentation, and other effective assessment strategies responsibly, in partnership with families and other professionals, to positively influence the development and learning of every child, uniquely created by God.

Key elements

  • Understanding the goals, benefits, and uses of assessment, including its use in development of appropriate goals, curriculum, and teaching strategies for young children.
  • Knowing about and using observation, documentation, and other appropriate assessment tools and approaches, including the use of technology in documentation, assessment and data collection.
  • Understanding and practicing responsible assessment to promote positive outcomes for each child, uniquely created by God, including the use of assistive technology for children with disabilities.
  • Knowing about assessment partnerships with families and with professional colleagues to build effective learning environments.

Using Developmentally Effective Approaches to Connect with Children and Families

Students prepared in the Early Childhood Education degree program understand that teaching and learning with young children is a complex enterprise, and its details vary depending on children’s ages, characteristics, and the settings within which teaching and learning occur. They understand and use Christ-honoring relationships and supportive interactions as the foundation for their work with young children and families. They know, understand and use a wide array of developmentally appropriate approaches, instructional strategies, and tools to connect with children and families to promote each child’s learning and development from a Biblical worldview, giving evidence of Christ’s love for each child and family.

Key elements

  • Understanding Christ-honoring relationships and supportive interactions as the foundation of their work with young children and families.
  • Knowing and understanding developmentally effective strategies and tools for early education, including appropriate uses of technology.
  • Using a broad repertoire of developmentally appropriate teaching/learning approaches.
  • Reflecting on their own practice to promote positive outcomes for each child, giving evidence of Christ’s love for each child and family.

Using Content Knowledge to Build Meaningful Curriculum

Students prepared in the Early Childhood Education degree program use their knowledge of academic disciplines and learning in the context of a Biblical worldview to design, implement, and evaluate experiences that promote Christ-honoring development and learning for each and every young child, uniquely created by God in His image. Students understand the importance of developmental domains and academic (or content) disciplines in early childhood curriculum. They know the essential concepts, inquiry tools, and structure of content areas, including academic subjects, and can identify resources to deepen their understanding. Students use their own knowledge and other resources to design, implement, and evaluate meaningful, challenging, and Christ-honoring curriculum that promotes comprehensive developmental and learning outcomes for every young child.

Key elements

  • Understanding content knowledge, resources, and a Biblical worldview in academic disciplines: language and literacy; the arts – music, creative movement, dance, drama, visual arts, mathematics; science; physical activity, physical education, health and safety; and social studies.
  • Knowing and using the central concepts, inquiry tools, and structures of content areas or academic disciplines.
  • Using their own knowledge, appropriate early learning standards, God’s Word, and other resources to design, implement, and evaluate developmentally meaningful, challenging, Christ-honoring curriculum for each child.

Becoming a Professional

Students prepared in the Early Childhood Education degree program identify and conduct themselves as members of the early childhood education profession. They know and use Biblical principles, ethical guidelines, and other professional standards related to early childhood education practice. They demonstrate Christ-like behavior, honoring young children and the institution of the family. They are continuous, collaborative learners who demonstrate knowledgeable, reflective, and critical perspectives on their work, making informed decisions that integrate knowledge from a variety of sources, in accordance with Biblical principles. They are informed advocates for sound educational practices and policies for the benefit of the children and for the glory of God.

Key elements

  • Identifying and involving oneself with the early childhood field.
  • Knowing about and upholding Biblical principles, ethical standards and other early childhood professional guidelines.
  • Engaging in continuous, collaborative learning to inform practice, using technology effectively with young children, with peers, and as a professional resource.
  • Integrating knowledgeable, reflective, and critical, Biblical worldview perspectives on early education.
  • Engaging in informed advocacy for young children, the early childhood profession, and the glory of God.
ECED-100  Cornerstone for Early Childhood Education  2 Credits  

This course provides an introduction to university life, online learning, and the academic and social skills needed for success. Students are introduced to the library and information literacy/research skills. The course management system and skills for successful online learning along with the integration of faith and learning through a Biblical worldview are covered. Becoming a professional in the field of early childhood education is discussed.

ECED-101  Child Growth and Development  3 Credits  

This course covers the study of social, emotional, intellectual, physical, creative, and spiritual areas of development from conception through middle childhood with an emphasis on the preschool years. Theories of development are studied along with the various stages of growth. These concepts will be presented from a Biblical perspective.

ECED-103  Child, Family and Comm/Social  3 Credits  

This course covers the study of how family, school, and community affect a child's development. An emphasis will be placed on the family unit and the parents' roles in being the primary educator of their child. Community resources are investigated and advocacy for children is explored.

ECED-106  Intro to Curriculum for the Young Child  3 Credits  

This class provides an overview of the planning, preparation, and delivery of a developmentally appropriate curriculum for young children. The role of the teacher and the curriculum in supporting the development of the whole child are analyzed. The class covers the basic components and developmentally appropriate implementation of curriculum across content areas. Though not required, completion of?ECED-101?Child Growth and Development is recommended.

ECED-108  Principles and Practices of Teaching Young Children  3 Credits  

This course presents an overview of the historical development and philosophies of early education. Students will examine the relationship among developmental theory, philosophy, and practice in early education. Students will explore a wide range of early childhood curriculum models. The ecological contexts and relationships affecting young children's development will be analyzed. This course includes a review of teaching strategies supporting all children's development. Though not required, completion of ECED-101 Child Growth and Development is recommended.

ECED-109  Infant/Toddler Development  3 Credits  

This course is an overview of the characteristic needs of infants and toddlers, birth through age three. Appropriate learning environments and routine experiences are discussed. Social, cognitive, physical, and sensory motor behavior patterns are applied in theory and through observation in relation to the environment. A focus on the development of curriculum in meeting the individual needs of the children and the role of the teacher in facilitating growth through play experiences is emphasized.

ECED-121  Admininistration of Early Childhood Education Programs I  3 Credits  

Application of the basic principles for the establishment, operation, supervision and evaluation of a preschool/daycare program is examined. This includes an overview and history of early childhood education programs, philosophy development, licensing standards, and assessment of management techniques. Christian philosophy and development are integrated. This course meets the minimum licensing course requirement for operating a licensed daycare program.

ECED-123  Administration of Early Childhood Education Programs II  3 Credits  

Application of advanced principles for the ongoing operation, supervision and evaluation of a preschool/daycare program are examined. This includes an in-depth look into managing staff and personnel issues, along with public relations and board development. Parent partnership and operational policies are discussed. Christian philosophy and development are integrated. This course meets the minimum licensing requirement for operating a licensed daycare program.

ECED-126  Teaching in a Diverse Society  3 Credits  

This course examines current issues facing the early childhood education professional in understanding diversity as it impacts the classroom. The increased diversity of race, ethnicity, culture, linguistics, and disabilities or developmental delays brings many challenges, as well as many opportunities, to educators. Factors of working with and supporting diverse populations of young children and their families are discussed, including relevant teaching methods and materials.

ECED-132  Early Childhood Education Practicum  3 Credits  

This course is designed to demonstrate practical application of developmentally appropriate early childhood education techniques and skills. Emphasis is placed on designing, implementing, and evaluating classroom experiences for young children. Observation and evaluation of classroom experiences, environmental design, classroom management, and parent communication are emphasized to promote optimal development for young children. Biblical perspectives are integrated throughout the course. Fieldwork is completed in the student's own classroom, or by approval of the instructor. Students complete 50 hours in an early childhood setting. Students videotape their teaching in order to be evaluated by the instructor and fellow classmates. Though not required, ECED 101 and ECED 106 are recommended prior to taking this course.

ECED-135  Health, Safety and Nutrition for the Young Child  3 Credits  

This course presents healthy practices that promote safety, nutrition, and wellness for the young child. Strategies are introduced that include families in developing health awareness. In addition, safety issues inclusive of disaster and emergency planning, along with creating safe environments within an early childhood education setting are emphasized.

ECED-137  Observation and Assessment  3 Credits  

This course offers opportunities for students to develop in-depth knowledge and skills as early childhood education professionals with a focus on research, policy, and best practices in early childhood education assessment that is linked to curriculum planning and program evaluation. Focus is placed on acquiring knowledge about informal and formal developmental screening assessment instruments for young children, and how to select and use appropriate assessments to determine initial information that facilitates individual learning environments and strategies. Though not required, completion of ECED 101 and ECED 106 are recommended.

ECED-139  Adult Supervision and Mentoring  3 Credits  

This course covers the methods and principles of supervising adults who are teachers, assistants, or volunteers in early childhood education classrooms. Emphasis is placed on the role of experienced classroom teachers who function as mentors to new teachers while simultaneously addressing the needs of children, parents and other staff. Though not required, ECED 101 and ECED 103 are recommended prior to taking this course.

ECED-141  Introduction to Transitional Kindergarten Programs  3 Credits  

This course explores how children develop between the ages of three and six, and what programs are developmentally appropriate for this age group, by examining principles and the best practices of early childhood education curriculum that promotes effective transition from preschool to kindergarten programs. Students discuss different curricula and how to effectively integrate multiple content areas into one program. Current research on developmental milestones, preparing the classroom, and guiding children's social behavior are reviewed and discussed. Students examine how school goals have changed over time, and the importance of getting parents involved in the early childhood education classroom. Students develop their own integrated curriculum plan and understand how to assess young children using multiple measures.

ECED-150  Spiritual Formation of Young Children  3 Credits  

This course furthers students' own understanding and personal journey of spiritual formation and how that relates to the spiritual transformation of young children. The process of how the inner life is formed in young children toward an intimate relationship with God is discussed. Particular emphasis is placed on relationship, experience, and practice of the spiritual disciplines that create the context for spiritual formation to occur. A systematic approach is given that lays the foundation for regular practices in the classroom. The relationship between the church, home, and the early childhood education program is explored as the foundational environments where spiritual transformation is developed.

ECED-160  Infant/Toddler: Curriculum and Practicum  3 Credits  

This course provides an understanding of the uniqueness of infant and toddler curriculum, and how to demonstrate a practical application of developmentally appropriate infant and toddler teaching techniques and skills. Emphasis is placed on designing, implementing, and evaluating classroom experiences for children ages 0 to 2. Observation and evaluation of classroom experiences, environmental design, classroom management, and parent communication are emphasized to promote optimal development for young children. Biblical perspectives are integrated throughout the course. Fieldwork is completed in the student's own classroom, or by approval of the instructor. Students videotape their teaching in order to be evaluated by the instructor and fellow classmates. Though not required, ECED 101 and ECED 109 are recommended prior to taking this course.

ECED-200  Fundamentals of Early Childhood Education  3 Credits  

This course provides an overview of early childhood education for children ages 0 to 8 in developmental theories and history of early childhood education, developmentally appropriate practices based on Constructivism-based curricula, working with families in diverse communities, and becoming an early childhood education professional. (This course is cross listed with EDUC-250 in the residential undergraduate program.)

ECED-299  Capstone for Early Childhood Education  3 Credits  

This course provides the opportunity to integrate theories of child development, a Biblical worldview of young children, and principles of effective practice as a culmination of learning at the bachelor's degree-level. Students engage in field experience through the implementation of a project that exhibits an integration of faith and learning. This project demonstrates an application of the students' knowledge of Biblically-based early childhood education into their practice. An analysis and evaluation of the students' educational experiences across the curriculum is reviewed and the comprehensive portfolio of the students' work samples and reflections demonstrate competence and the achievement of program learning outcomes. Next steps in professional development are discussed, and a plan for further growth as a professional in the early childhood education field is developed.

ECED-300  Guiding the Young Child's Behavior  3 Credits  

This course examines appropriate child guidance principles and practice. Positive teacher/child interactions along with guidance techniques, teaching self-regulation and self-control concepts, setting clear expectations and affirming positive behavior, classroom management techniques, and conflict resolution strategies are examined. Parental involvement and school/family partnerships are incorporated to serve children in their supporting environments.

ECED-301  Infant and Toddler: Development and Theory  3 Credits  

This course examines and celebrates infant and toddler development from pre-birth through age 36 months. The course focuses on the importance of families' and caregivers' relationships and responsiveness in interactions with young children emphasizing the whole-child approach to development. Developmentally appropriate guidance using a relationship-based model is introduced.

ECED-305  The Exceptional Child and the Inclusive Classroom  3 Credits  

This course provides an overview of children ages 0-12 with exceptional cognitive, physical, social, and/or emotional characteristics, including learning disabilities. Students are introduced to special education laws and their implications for delivery systems, transition plans, and identification and placement procedures. Assessment and screening strategies are discussed to meet the educational needs of all students. A Biblical perspective of serving all children is part of the course, including rationale and strategies for honoring young children and families.

ECED-306  Exceptional Children: Teaching Language Arts, Math and Science for Students With Severe Disabilities  3 Credits  

This course is designed to equip early childhood educators who teach special needs students to demonstrate best practices in his or her classroom. This course covers teaching common core Language Arts, Math and Science, and creating instructions and assessment. The concepts of embedding instruction and inclusion in the classroom are explored. (Requirement for Special Education emphasis.)

ECED-315  Math and Science for the Young Child  3 Credits  

This course reviews developmental theory and research about science and math education in the early childhood years. Students investigate the interrelationship of math and science, and explore an organized, sequential approach to creating a developmentally appropriate math and science curriculum for young children.

ECED-316  STEM/STEAM: Math for the Young Child  3 Credits  

This course reviews developmental theory and research about mathematical education in the early childhood years. Early childhood educators will investigate the interrelationship of math concepts in cooperation with STEAM education, and explore an organized, sequential approach to creating developmentally appropriate math curriculum for young children. Concepts of God as the creator and master designer will be presented as students construct knowledge through a dynamic, interactive process that facilitates their development of working theories relating to mathematics and STEAM education.

ECED-320  Language and Literacy for Young Children  3 Credits  

This course focuses on language and literacy development for young children ages 0-8. Students examine theories of language development, including theories of second language acquisition and the needs of English language learners. Strategies for engaging children in integrated listening, speaking, reading, and writing experiences are also explored. Integration of content area standards and development of hands-on learning experiences are emphasized. Evaluation of God-honoring children's literature is covered along with communicating with God through prayer. Additionally, developmentally effective assessments are discussed as a means of informing instruction.

ECED-322  STEM/STEAM: Science for the Young Child  3 Credits  

This course reviews developmental theory and research about science educatiuon in the early childhood years. Early childhood educators will investigate the interrelationship of science concepts in cooperation with STEAM education, and explore an organized, sequential approach to creating developmentally appropraite science curriculum for young children. Concepts of God as the creator and master designer will be presented as students construct knowledge through a dynamic, interactive process that facilitates their development of working theories relating to science and STEAM education.

ECED-327  STEM/STEAM: Arts and Creative Learning for the Young Child  3 Credits  

This course reviews developmental theory and research of art education and the development of creativity in the early childhood years. Early childhood educators will investigate the interrelationship of math, science, literature, and social studies in cooperation with STEAM education, in order to explore an organized, sequential approach to creating developmentally approipriate curriculum for young children that embraces creativity and self-expression through the arts. Concepts of God as the creator and master designer will be presented as students construct knowledge through a dynamic, interactive process that facilitates their development of working theories relating to creativity and STEAM education.

ECED-330  Early Foundations for Moral and Character Development  3 Credits  

This course examines the role of educators in developing moral and ethical behavior in young children. Character traits that are reflective of a Spirit-filled classroom are defined and identified. Students explore different theories of moral development and identify knowledge, skills, and dispositions that can be integrated into the life of the classroom. Biblical principles of moral development are studied along with strategies that integrate these concepts into the curriculum content. Students examine early childhood education centers for moral and character development curriculum content, and a strategic plan is developed to enhance moral development. Students are challenged to be an effective role model and to identify their own personal strengths and growth areas. Developmentally-effective methods of instruction are discussed, including the use of a variety of hands-on materials to reinforce concrete learning.

ECED-338  Advanced Administration of Early Childhood Education Programs  3 Credits  

This course provides information about the advanced skills needed to manage and lead in early childhood education settings. Students develop skills in personal and professional self-awareness, fiscal management, facilities management, family support and educational programming. Special emphasis is placed on management theory and decision making. Through this course, students develop an understanding of their own leadership and management style.

ECED-340  Transitional Kindergarten Programs  3 Credits  

This course examines transitional kindergarten programs in the private and public sector. An in-depth look at the developmental needs of 4-1/2- to 6-year-olds is included. Aspects of current brain research on the connection of curriculum to targeted learning outcomes is reviewed. Specific strategies for measuring developmental milestones for learning are included, preparing early childhood educators to adequately assess developmentally-effective progression. Aspects of creating effective transitions from preschool to kindergarten programs, including perceptions, expectations, and practices that build strong partnerships with families and elementary schools, are covered. Appropriate levels of instruction and developmentally appropriate environments are explored.

ECED-345  STEM/STEAM: Technology and Engineering for the Young Child  3 Credits  

This course introduces the use of technology in the early education setting to enhance STEM (emphasis on engineering) teaching, learning, and program support. Topics will include the use of technology in the classroom, communication with families, and teacher training. With an emphasis on engineering, students will be able to understand and apply technology-enhanced instruction and utilize a variety of resources in order to create project-based STEAM learning experiences in the classroom. Through learning the concepts of tecnology and engineering in the development of children agaes 0-8, student will be able to create and design instruction that promotes problen solving, critical thinking, collaboration, and creativity in a cross-curricular learning experience.

ECED-350  Ministering to Parents and Families  3 Credits  

This course emphasizes the significance of parents and families as the basic unit of society according to God's design. Significant issues surrounding the health of the family unit are discussed. Topics included in this course focus on the well-being of individuals and society supported by strong family units. Various parenting styles are examined for understanding family dynamics. Students learn how to minister effectively through the integration of faith practices, prayer, God's word, and Biblical insight that supports a strong home life for young children. Instilling Biblically-based values in the home and the supportive role of early childhood education programs in supporting children and their families are examined, including family education and advocacy.

ECED-400  Early Communication Skills and Literacy In Multilingual Communities  3 Credits  

This course develops students' understanding of language development specific to the early years and the principles that govern this process. Language learning development is presented as an important part of thinking and communicating being God's design for each child. Students learn the distinct differences between language, competence, and performance as it relates to multicultural communities. The roles of adults, peers, and siblings in fostering language development are discussed. Students explore specific strategies for working with multilingual families in meeting the functional needs of the child in the classroom setting to maximize language development. Delays in the language process are reviewed along with the necessary resources to help serve children at risk.

ECED-401  Infant/Toddler: Curriculum and Practicum  3 Credits  

This course explores the uniqueness of infant and toddler curriculum, and demonstrates a practical application of developmentally appropriate infant and toddler teaching techniques and skills. Emphasis is placed on designing, implementing, and evaluating classroom experiences for children ages 0 - 36 months. Observation and evaluation of classroom experiences, environmental design, classroom management, and parent communication are emphasized to promote optimal development for young children. Biblical perspectives are integrated throughout the course. Fieldwork is completed in the student's own classroom, or by approval of the instructor. Students videotape their teaching in order to be evaluated by the instructor and fellow classmates.

ECED-405  Advanced Curriculum Design and Development in Early Childhood Education  3 Credits  

This course focuses on curriculum planning and design for programs that serve young children ages 0-8. Issues and trends in curriculum development are examined, along with the components of a philosophy of teaching and learning based on a school's foundational statements. The students explore the sequenced components of a curriculum guide that support each learning domain, including student-based outcomes, goals, and benchmarks. Monthly and weekly guides, along with lesson planning, are discussed and developed. The process of evaluating the planned instructional program is covered as it relates to improving the curriculum and effectively achieving student learning outcomes. Learning outcomes are integrated into this course as a foundation for curriculum development.

ECED-410  Leadership and Advocacy in Early Childhood Education  3 Credits  

This course focuses on child and family advocacy, leadership, public policy, research, and advocacy initiatives in the field of early childhood education. Students analyze critical issues in early childhood education from a Biblical-worldview and develop strategies for articulating positions and becoming change agents. Students develop and implement strategies for change. A professional code of ethics that integrates Biblical standards and principles is discussed.

ECED-420  Principles of Applied Behavior Analysis: Autism  3 Credits  

This course examines the introduction of Behavioral Analysis into daily life, and how the events in daily life affect autistic students' behavior. Students learn how to apply behavioral principles to their classes, deal with challenging behaviors, and build positive relationship with their students' families and other students. (Requirement for Special Education emphasis)

ECED-425  Functional Assessment and Evaluation for Exceptional Learners  3 Credits  

This course covers how to collect and use educational data to assess diverse learning needs in multiple developmental aspects, educational planning and progress monitoring, instructional models, curricular access, mapping, and development. Various types and uses of assessments to identify needs of exceptional learners are introduced. (Requirement for Special Education emphasis)

ECED-460  Advanced Practicum I  3 Credits  

This course is a supervised student teaching experience of working with young children ages 0-8 in a classroom setting. The focus is on the application of developmentally appropriate early childhood education theories, techniques, and skills. Emphasis is put on designing, implementing, and evaluating classroom experiences for young children. Observation and evaluation of classroom experiences, environmental design, classroom management, and parent communication are emphasized to promote optimal development for young children. Biblical perspectives are integrated throughout the course.

ECED-465  Advanced Practicum II  3 Credits  

This course is a supervised student teaching experience working with young children ages 0-8 in a classroom setting. The focus is on the application of developmentally appropriate early childhood education theories, techniques, and skills. The student-teachers explore ways to build relationships with diverse families, connect families with community resources, and use content knowledge of the aesthetic, cognitive, social/emotional, and physical developmental domains to design, implement, and evaluate meaningful curriculum. Biblical perspectives are integrated throughout the course.

Prerequisite: ECED-460

ECED-499  Capstone for Early Childhood Education Bachelor of Arts Degree  3 Credits  

This course provides students the opportunity to integrate theories of child development, a Biblical worldview of young children, and principles of effective practice as a culmination of learning at the bachelor's degree level. Students engage in field experience through the implementation of a project that exhibits an integration of faith and learning. The project demonstrates an application of students' knowledge of Biblically-based early childhood education to their practice. An analysis and evaluation of the students' educational experiences across the curriculum is reviewed. Students create a comprehensive portfolio comprised of their work samples and reflections, which demonstrates their competence and achievement of Program Learning Outcomes. The next steps in professional development are discussed and a plan for further growth as a professional in the early education field is developed.