You can get an associate's degree in early childhood education by satisfactorily completing all of the courses required by an educational institute of higher learning that offers the degree program. Most colleges and universities in the United States that offer these degrees also require that you submit to a criminal background check and a drug test. Almost all such programs will require you to successfully complete a practicum to gain field experience.
Depending on where you live and what your current educational level is, you might have to complete pre-college educational requirements, such as obtaining a high school diploma or general equivalency diploma (GED) if you live in the United States. Some colleges and universities have special programs that allow students to complete their final two years of high school while taking freshman college courses in general education. The general education courses that typically are required include classes in college-level mathematics, oral communication or speech, college-level writing and other subject areas. Practically every regionally accredited college or university will also require that you earn a determined number of credits as electives, which can be related to your studies in early childhood education or to another discipline.
Among the courses directly related to earning an associate's degree in early childhood education are introductory courses in that discipline, classes in child growth and development, and courses in child psychology. You also can expect to study child health, safety, and nutrition; to study developmental psychology; and to take an introductory course in general psychology. Each program will differ slightly from college to college.
Your practicum is just as important as the didactic portion of your studies, because you gain valuable hands-on experience in the field as you put into practice the book knowledge you have gained. Some schools make these arrangements for their students, but others do not. If you have to make your own arrangements, you will want to get all compensated work or volunteer opportunities in the field pre-approved by the school before accepting the position so that you can be sure that the field experience will count toward the earning of your associate's degree in early childhood education. Child daycare centers, nurseries, and elementary public and private schools are among the places where you would want want to work in order to complete your field experience.