Course Overview

Early Childhood Assistant (ECA) diploma program prepares you to work with children up to age 12 and their families. Students will attain practice-ready knowledge, skills and attitudes employers are seeking from ECA graduates in supporting children, families, and the community by engaging in innovative learning and simulation experiences.

Program Breakdown

Upon completion of the Early Childhood Assistant program, graduates will be equipped to:

  1. Facilitate and nurture learning through support and engagement.
  2. Operate in alignment with the Ministry’s legislation and guidelines.
  3. Develop inclusive, play-based learning settings and natural play areas that welcome children, families, and communities.
  4. Respect and incorporate both Indigenous and non-Indigenous perspectives and practices.
  5. Understand and appreciate children through a broad spectrum of perspectives.
  6. Work in partnership with community agencies that have relevant services and missions.
  7. Stand up for children’s rights and well-being through the principles of social justice.

This course will introduce students to the field of Early Child Care and Education through an investigation of the historical roots of early learning, and how it has impacted the contemporary approach to play-based care. Students examine theoretical approaches of working with young children and their families in a diverse community. They examine the dimensions of high-quality childcare and components of current legislation. Students explore the early learning framework.

This is a required course in the Early Childhood Assistant program which offers an introduction to professional interpersonal communication skills which will be further developed and practiced in subsequent courses. This course explores topics related to professional communication, reflective practice and collaboration. As a result of the learning outcomes of this course, students will gain the skills necessary to establish inclusive relationships within the ECE community.

Students develop a comprehensive understanding of child development from conception through early childhood. They take a dynamic perspective on developmental theories that apply to early childhood education. With a focus on whole child development and education, the course will also examine the three major domains of young children’s physical, cognitive and socio-emotional development as well as connect to the developmentally appropriate practice to promote children’s development.

This course introduces the role of the observer and various approaches to observing development. Ethical standards for surveillance and documentation are discussed. Writing concise, accurate and objective observations are introduced along with many observation tools.

This course covers the health, safety & nutritional needs of children and early childhood educators. Students recognize the importance of safe learning environments to support & promote children’s health & well-being. Health promotion, prevention of illness, occupational health and safety are discussed, and exploration focuses on the impact that educators and childcare settings have on health & nutrition of children. Students review current legislation in the Child Care and Early Years Act, 2014.

Students study ways of forming positive partnerships between families & educators. Strategies facilitating family involvement, effective collaboration & communication skills with parents are defined. Current theories of parent education & issues in child rearing are examined. Students understand children & families are unique. They explore how to react & have an inclusive, welcoming & anti-bias environment for different family structure, culture, socio-economic status, religion & ethnicity.

Field practice provides a continuum of experience that gives the student the opportunity to integrate an applied theory. The student must demonstrate the necessary self-awareness, attitudes and skills that enable him/her to work competently with children, families and co-workers. All students complete field practice with infants or toddlers, preschoolers and school age children.

This course introduces students to the language & practice of sociological inquiry. It examines basic concepts, research and theories in sociology, & uses them to explore our everyday life experience & their relation to the cultural communities & social institutions, in Canadian society. Students develop an appreciation of key groups & issues such as family, ethnic group, class, community, school, childcare, social change, women’s issues, social organizations, multiculturalism & immigration.

Students explore the foundations of play-based curriculum specific to young children in early learning & care environments to foster & facilitate inclusive, holistic learning & development. Students examine how an early learning curriculum framework guides curriculum planning. Strategies are explored to support the design of creative arts & sensory experiences. The course addresses planning for play. Knowledge & skills prepare students for their practicum experiences & professional practice.

This course provides theory related to language acquisition in the early childhood years. Students learn the implementation of teaching techniques within a play-based curriculum. They examine the importance of early experiences, such as social, cultural & linguistic diversity interactions for facilitating the development of language & literacy skills. Students apply language development theory to program planning for young children & establish rich language & literacy practices.

This course provides an overview of the theoretical approaches and empirical studies that have contributed to the nature of psychology. Students will acquire an appreciation for research methodologies and for the range of influences that guide their own behavior and experience. Basic concepts and principles of individual behavior are examined, particularly those of human development, normal and abnormal behavior, social psychology, learning, perception, and psychological measurement.

This course will explore current research and approaches in managing and guiding young children’s behavior in early childhood programs. Guidance and discipline are considered within a framework of child development and developmentally appropriate practice. Methods including theoretical approaches, respecting diversity, understanding vulnerabilities, and analysis of behavioral concerns will be covered.

Students learn how to use a developmental approach when discussing typical & atypical development of a child & learn to adjust their curriculum accordingly to meet the needs of all children. Students learn to design environments that deliver an inclusive play-based curriculum that is meaningful & responsive to the child’s interests. They will discuss the approaches & tools that are needed to provide a high-quality learning environment, including the use of Individualized Intervention Plans.

This course is designed to develop an understanding of how to adapt the curriculum for young children with disabilities and special needs to make a difference in the lives of children and their families. The emphasis is on the role of educators in planning support for both children and families through the latest legislation and trends and evidence-based practice.

In the second placement, students are assigned to a preschool department of a licensed daycare center, early learning center, or kindergarten classroom. Students apply the basic principles of practice learned in class. Faculty supervisors visit the agencies, observe students with children, clarify student expectations & responsibilities & provide feedback regarding strengths & needs. Final grades will be assigned based upon the competencies & grading system outlined in the NACC ECA Handbook.