Starting Fall 2022 Bemidji State University will offer a new early childhood studies minor for students who want to work with children outside of a traditional classroom setting.
The 21-credit minor is open to students of all majors who have an interest in working with young children in various settings. Dr. Layna Cole, associate professor of professional education, said students pursuing degrees in health, psychology, sociology and social work may find the minor especially valuable.
Currently, Bemidji State offers a pre-primary endorsement, but it is only available to elementary education majors as an add-on to their degree. Students not admitted to the professional education program have been unable to take those courses. The new early childhood studies minor removes that barrier for students.
“The intent for this minor is to capture an opportunity for students to get the training, experience, and knowledge they need to work with young children and their families if they are not called to become a classroom teacher,” Cole said. “It increases the field of people that know how to do the work, so it will benefit the community and children.”
Students will learn about child development, culturally responsible practices, how to build relationships, work collaboratively with families and how to develop meaningful curricula for preschoolers. The minor culminates in a practicum-based internship where students work with young children and their families to demonstrate knowledge gained through the classroom.
There is a demand for professionals in a variety of career settings who have the skills and knowledge to work with young children and their families, Cole said. This minor allows students to develop the knowledge, skills and dispositions necessary to work with young children.
“Early childhood is a calling. Once you decide that your purpose in life is to help and support children to grow and become the best version of themselves, it’s hard to walk away from that,” Cole said.