A content analysis of early childhood teachers' theoretical and practical experiences with infants and toddlers in australian teacher education programs
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In Australia, the growth in the provision of early childhood services for very young children aged birth to three years has placed increased demands on pre-service teachers as new policy stipulates the need for qualified early childhood teachers. While many teacher education programs offer early childhood courses, they have traditionally had a greater focus on kindergarten and the formal years of schooling. Less is known about the amount of time devoted to developing the specialist educational capacity for teaching and caring for infants and toddlers. This paper explores 55 Australian early childhood teacher undergraduate education programs to provide data regarding what pre-service teachers learn about children from birth to three years of age during their formal program of study. It explores: if pre-service teachers engage in practical experiences with this age range; what content they learn; and how knowledge for this age range is assessed. Utilising information from fully accessible public program websites, data in the form of course details were examined to reveal the extent and nature of courses inclusive of teaching and learning focusing on children aged from birth to three years. Of the 55 programs, 18 programs provided practical experience with infants and toddlers, and to a lesser extent content was evident and assessed. Most of the programs which included a focus on birth to three years of age were delivered by Victorian institutions. Findings are important for the future of early childhood teacher education in Australia and hold key messages for teacher registration bodies.
Australian Journal of Teacher Education
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Early Childhood Education (excl. Maori)