The pathway below represents an efficient and effective course taking sequence for this program. Individual circumstances might require some changes to this pathway. It is always recommended that you meet with an academic counselor to develop a personalized educational plan.
The courses have been intentionally placed and should be prioritized in the order in which they appear. If you are unable to take all the courses in a semester, you should prioritize enrolling in the courses in the order below. Some courses have been noted as “Appropriate for Intersession” . Should you need (or want) to take classes in the summer and/or winter intersessions, the program recommends these courses as appropriate for the condensed schedule of the intersessions.
Some pathways combine a “Certificate of Achievement” and an “Associate Degree”. If you are pursuing only the Certificate of Achievement, you are only required to take the courses marked “Program Requirement” .
All pathways include at least one “Gateway Course” which introduces you to the program and/or field of study and helps you decide if you want to continue with this Academic and Career Path.
Most Associate degrees (though not Associate Degrees for Transfer) require satisfying the SMC Global Citizenship requirement. If the Program Requirements do not include a “Global Citizenship course” , be sure to select a General Education course that also satisfies Global Citizenship.
This certificate provides a foundation in child development, highlighting nature, environmental education, and stewardship. It includes an exploration of a nature-based pedagogy continuum; from nature-focused activities through forest Kindergarten principles and practices, as well as strategies and resources to support children in developing and fostering a curiosity of the world around them. Cultural diversity and placed-based influences will be a focus.
Outdoor learning environments (OLEs) stimulate the diversity of children’s play experience and contribute to their healthy development. Through observation and assessment opportunities, candidates will experience first-hand the outdoor learning environment; discovering skills and understanding required to create, manage, promote, and organize a quality outdoor learning environment for children.
Upon completion of the program, students will:
- Upon completion of the program, students will demonstrate 1, How to assess early childhood outdoor learning environments. 2. Utilize benefit-risk assessment when introducing an outdoor learning experience. 3. Explain how having a quality early childhood outdoor learning environments can positively impact physical activity and healthy eating in young children. 4. Infuse early childhood education with environmental education learning opportunities. 5. Describe how outdoor environments and nature connection can support early childhood development.
Appropriate for Intersession
This course will examine the major developmental milestones for children, both typically and atypically developing, from conception through adolescence in the areas of physical, psychosocial, and cognitive development. Emphasis will be on interactions between maturational and environmental factors within a culturally sensitive framework. While studying developmental theory and investigative research methodologies, students will observe children, evaluate individual differences and analyze characteristics of development at various stages.
This course should be taken in the intersession PRIOR to taking ECE courses
- Advisory: Eligibility for English 1
- 4I: Psychology
- D9 - Psychology
- E - Lifelong Understanding and Self-Development
- Area II-B: Social Science (Group B)
This course examines the historical contexts and theoretical principles of developmentally appropriate and best practices in early care and education for children birth through age eight. It explores the typical roles and expectations of early childhood educators. It identifies professional ethics, career pathways, and professional standards. It introduces best practices for developmentally appropriate learning environments, curriculum, and effective pedagogy for young children including how play contributes to children's learning, growth, and development. This class is appropriate for students wanting to work with young children in a variety of programs, including infant-toddler, preschool, transitional kindergarten, and kindergarten.
- Advisory: PSYCH 11
This course is an examination of the developing child in a societal context, focusing on the interrelationship of family, school and community and the influence of multiple societal contexts. It explores the role of collaboration between family, community, and schools in supporting children’s development, birth through adolescence. Studies of family systems in contemporary society as they impact children and their individual heritage, diverse culture, ability and language will be examined, highlighting at least three major American cultures (Latina/o American, African American, Asian American, Native American, and European American). The processes of socialization and identity development will be highlighted, showing the importance of respectful, reciprocal relationships that support and empower families.
- Advisory: PSYCH 11
- 4G: Interdisciplinary, Social & Behavioral Sciences
- D7 - Interdisciplinary Social and Behavioral Science
- Area II-B: Social Science (Group B)
- Area V: Global Citizenship
This course covers developmentally appropriate curriculum and environments for children birth through age eight. Students will use knowledge of children’s development, theories of learning and development, observation and assessment, and examples from various models of developmentally appropriate practice to plan environments and curriculum in all content areas and support children’s development and learning, integrated throughout indoor and outdoor settings. It explores the teacher's role in supporting development and learning across the curriculum.
- Advisory: PSYCH 11
This course is a supervised field experience which focuses on the appropriate use of assessment and observation tools and strategies to document young children’s development and learning. The use of findings to inform and plan learning environments and experiences is emphasized. Recording strategies, rating systems, portfolios, and multiple assessment tools will be practiced, along with strategies for collaboration with families and professionals. Students are required to have a current TB test, a Live Scan completed at SMC, and proof of immunizations, including T-Dap, MMR, and proof of a COVID vaccine for most placement sites, prior to the course start date. Students will also be required to complete 20 days of supervised field experience in an instructor-approved early childhood setting, (1 day equals 3 or more hours).
- Prerequisite: PSYCH 11 and
- Prerequisite: ECE 2 and
- Prerequisite: ECE 11 and
- Prerequisite: at least ONE of the following
- Prerequisite: ECE 4 or
- Prerequisite: ECE 5 or
- Prerequisite: ECE 8 or
- Prerequisite: ECE 17
This course examines contemporary trends and issues that impact children’s healthy development and learning through the lens of environmental education and sustainability. Using a variety of industry resources, students will explore programmatic and system requirements, as well as research-based practices that enhance access to nature, environmental literacy, and healthy development in early childhood. Key topics include environmental awareness in indoor and outdoor learning environments, the relationship between play in nature and environmental behavior as adults, developing a sense of place through curricular activities that promote active learning and emphasize sustainable choice-making, and involving families and communities in the development of the outdoor learning environment. The course includes opportunities to observe a nature-based early childhood education in action.
Course to be taken in FIRST 8-weeks of the semester
- Prerequisite: ECE 21 or
- Prerequisite: Three years of Early Children program experiences or
This course examines the unique approach to curriculum found in nature-based early care and education programs. Students will utilize research-driven practices to assess, modify, and develop play-based indoor and outdoor environments, rooted in environmental awareness and sustainability. Key topics include the forest kindergarten approach, making connections between the indoor and outdoor learning environment, place-based education, the value of unstructured play, supporting language development in nature, conducting benefit-risk assessments, and creating nature-based learning opportunities across the developmental domains. The course includes opportunities to observe a nature-based early childhood education in action.
Course to be taken in SECOND 8-weeks of the semester
- Prerequisite: ECE 76