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Early Childhood Education Program

Program Overview/Mission

Teaching young children is as rewarding as it is fascinating. At the University of Houston-Clear Lake (UHCL), the Early Childhood Education (ECED) program focuses on children from birth through age eight. Studies show the more active engagement support a child receives in early years of life developing cognitive, social, language, motor, and other skills, the more likely the child is to be successful in school, and in life.  Our goal is to help ensure the success of these, our youngest of learners, by preparing high quality and experienced early childhood education professionals.

The ECED faculty are passionate, dedicated educators, experienced in early childhood education, child care center administration, curriculum development and special program oversight. They are committed to each student, and advancing educational knowledge through innovative research.

The ECED program offers many options to earn a degree in the field of early childhood—from undergraduate to graduate, with or without certification. We also offer a minor in early childhood education for students who wish to major in fields such as psychology or sociology, but want to work with agencies that focus on the needs of children and families, such as Child Protective Services (CPS).

Program Mission Statement

The UHCL ECED program exemplifies the mission of the university through its mission and core values. The ECED program is a research and theory-based, hands-on, early education program whose purpose is to provide candidates with the opportunity to become leaders in the field of early childhood through innovative teaching and research practices while preparing them to be culturally responsive leaders and advocates.

Program Core Values

To achieve the ECED program’s mission and meet the needs of the community, we adhere to the following core values:

  • Academic Preparation: Candidates will experience distinctive and innovative coursework that provides research and theory-based, hands-on educational experiences that enable candidates to gain knowledge of and to demonstrate developmentally appropriate and culturally relevant care and teaching practices for young children. Candidates will be able to demonstrate the academic knowledge identified through national and state professional standards to be high-quality educators of young children.
  • Professionalism: Candidates will engage in best practices leading to the knowledge and skills necessary to meet or exceed national and state professional standards of professional and ethical conduct. Candidates will gain knowledge of ethical standards and practices required to demonstrate professional judgment in the appropriate use of technology and media with young children.
  • Application: In partnership with the local community, candidates will have high-quality, practical experiences in a variety of diverse settings, including local childcare centers, public schools, Head Start centers, community programs, and agencies serving young children and their families from diverse backgrounds. Here candidates will utilize the knowledge, skills, and dispositions essential for working effectively with children, families, and the community.
  • Culturally Responsive Leadership: Candidates will be given the tools to engage candidates, families, and communities in ways that positively impact learning by honoring indigenous heritages and local cultural practices. Candidates will cultivate innovative skills necessary to promote best practices and advocacy in the field of early childhood. Candidates will recognize the importance of assuring equitable access to technology tools and interactive media experiences for the children, parents, and families in their care.
  • Workforce Development: Through articulation agreements with local community colleges, candidates will participate in an aligned educational pathway that supports candidates from certificate/credential programs, to associate degree programs to a bachelor’s degree, and then on to a master’s degree in early childhood education. Candidates are also supported as they become the next generation of diverse leaders, trainers, and educators at the higher education level.

Our Conceptual Framework is a Star with UHCL Early Childhood Education in the Center

At each point of the star are the words: Professionalism, Academic Preparation, Diversity and Inclusion, Professional Standards and Guidelines, and Community Partnerships. Each of these is defined below:

Professionalism: Leadership Skills, Reflective Practices, NAEYC Code of Ethical Conduct, Advocacy, ECE Workforce

Academic Preparation: Child Development, Theories to Learning, Developmentally Appropriate Practices, Authentic Assessment

Diversity and Inclusion: Culturally Relevant Teaching, Anti-Bias Curriculum, Honoring Differences, Seeing Similarities

Professional Standards and Guidelines:
NAEYC Professional Learning Standards, Texas Pre-K Guidelines, Infant Toddler, Three-Year-Old Early Learning Standards

Community Partnerships:
Field Experiences, Field-Based Assignments, Service Learning, Practicum

ECED Conceptual Framework

NEW! Starting in Fall 2022, we will be offering an Early Childhood: Pre-kindergarten-Grade 3 Certification in our new B.S. in Education with EC-3 Certification.

Currently, we are one of only 8 Educator Preparation Programs (EPPs) in the state that offer this certification. We will be offering this new certification through two pathways: Traditional Undergraduate (initial certification) and Alternative routes for currently certified educators who hold a valid Texas teaching certificate. For more information on this certification, including the alternative pathways for currently certified educators, click here.

Undergraduate Students

For students who have an associate’s degree in an early childhood discipline from an accredited institution, we offer a Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS) in Interdisciplinary Studies with a specialty in Educator of Young Children. This program plan builds on and extends the lower level child development associate's degree coursework. The degree is designed for teachers, directors and other professionals in childcare, Head Start, Early Head Start, other infant and toddler programs, private preschools, Early Intervention programs or other programs where teacher certification is not required. Students complete a Practicum experience at the end of the program in a community-based, educational program tailored to their professional needs. You can choose to attend classes on campus or you can complete your ECED coursework 100% online.

For students coming directly from high school child development programs who want to start in a four-year program focused on birth to age five, we offer a Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE). This degree, like the BAS, is designed for teachers, directors and other professionals in childcare, Head Start, Early Head Start, other infant and toddler programs, private preschools, Early Intervention programs or other programs where teacher certification is not required. Students also complete a Practicum experience at the end of the program in a community-based, educational program tailored to their professional needs.

For students interested in teaching within the public school system, which requires teacher certification, we offer a Bachelor of Science in Education with Core Studies EC-6 Certification with a Concentration in Early Childhood. Students complete an internship in a public school setting at the end of their program.

Beginning Fall 2022. For students interested in teaching within the public school system, which requires teacher certification, we offer a B.S. in Education with EC-3 Certification with Early Childhood: Pre-kindergarten-Grade 3 Certification. We will be offering this new certification through two pathways: Traditional Undergraduate (initial certification) and Alternative routes for currently certified educators who hold a valid Texas teaching certificate. For more information on this certification, including the alternative pathways for currently certified educators, click here.

Graduate Students

For graduate students seeking to enhance their careers and become leaders in the Early Childhood Education field, we offer a Master of Science degree. This degree is designed to give candidates the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding, combining theory, practice and research with an emphasis on coursework focused on young children birth through age eight. It includes a Practicum experience in a community-based educational program focused on the student’s career goals.

You can choose to attend classes on campus or you can complete your coursework 100% online.

The degree is offered with three specialty tracks: Early Childhood Education, Early Childhood Education- Focus on Young Children with Disabilities, Early Childhood Education with Core Subjects EC-6 Certification, and the Early Childhood Leadership Certificate.


Program Degrees

Accreditation Information

The College of Education is accredited by the State Board for Educator Certification/Texas Education Agency.

We’ve earned national recognition for accomplishment and innovation, including the Christa McAuliffe Award for Excellence in Teacher Education.

The College of Education Early Childhood Education program is currently in the self-study phase of National Association for Educators of Young Children (NAEYC) Higher Education Program Accreditation for the B.A.S. Interdisciplinary Studies – Educator of Young Children and the B.S. in Early Childhood Care and Education degrees. Our program goals and outcomes are aligned with the NAEYC standards.

To review our annual program performance reports on our student learning outcomes, please visit the COE Accreditation and Reporting page.

Admission Requirements

Program Faculty

Amber Brown
Amber Brown

Amber Brown

Assistant Professor of Early Childhood Education,
Education

Contact number: 281-283-3627
Email: browna@uhcl.edu
Office: Bayou Suite 1119

Amber Brown Faculty Bio

Shanna Graves
Shanna Graves

Shanna Graves

Program Coordinator and Associate Professor of Early Childhood Education,
Education

Contact number: 281-283-3578
Email: gravess@uhcl.edu
Office: bayou Suite 1119

Shanna Graves Faculty Bio

Rebecca Huss-Keeler
Rebecca Huss-Keeler

Rebecca Huss-Keeler

Professor of Early Childhood Education,
Education

Contact number: 281-283-3535
Email: huss@uhcl.edu
Office: Bayou Suite 1119

Rebecca Huss-Keeler Faculty Bio

Preeti Jain
Preeti Jain

Preeti Jain

Assistant Professor of Early Childhood Education,
Education

Contact number: 281-283-3567
Email: jainp@uhcl.edu
Office: Bayou Suite 1119

Preeti Jain Faculty Bio