The Top 10 Reasons to Get a Master's in Early Childhood Education-Reading
March 10, 2021
Literacy is an essential skill that, sadly, too many Americans lack. Good reading habits start early in life. With a Masters in Early Childhood Education-Reading, you can provide young students with the most critical skill they need to succeed in school and beyond.
Illiteracy is a major socioeconomic issue that plagues 45 million Americans, according to the Literacy Project Foundation. How big is the problem? The Literacy Project reports that:
- Half of all adults in the US cannot read at an eighth-grade level
- 60 percent of America's prison population can't read at a fourth-grade level
- 75 percent of American recipients of social welfare can't read at an adult level
- Only one-third of all fourth-graders read at or above grade level
As suggested by this final fact, these problems typically develop early, at a time when young children develop lifelong learning and information-processing habits. Literacy education is perhaps the most critical component of childhood development. It opens doors to even more expansive learning opportunities. With a master's in early childhood education-reading, you'll be in a position to open those doors for many children.
In this article on the top ten reasons to get a master's in early childhood education reading we will cover the:
- Steps to earning a master's in early childhood education reading
- Top ten reasons to get a master's in early childhood education reading
- Careers for people with a master's in reading and literacy
- Best master's programs for early childhood education reading
Steps to earning a master's in early childhood education reading
Full-time students typically complete graduate programs in early childhood education reading in one year; part-time students usually finish in two years. Different programs impose different curricular requirements and designate their degrees differently. For instance, Pennsylvania State University - Harrisburg offers a Master's of Education in Literacy Education while Pace University - New York offers a Master of Science in Education (MSEd), Literacy Specialist degree.
Different programs also target different student demographics. Penn State's program, for example, is a regionally accredited teacher education program designed for current teachers looking to take the Pennsylvania Reading Specialist Certification (K-12). Pace's program is more specialized; it's designed for people with "a teaching certificate in childhood or adolescent education who want to become literacy specialists." Make sure you read the fine print before selecting a program; you want to make sure you meet the program qualification and that the program meets your career goals.
Some things that just about every program will want to see are:
- GRE (Graduate Record Examination) scores
- Personal essay
- Letters of recommendation
- Transcripts documenting previous education
Most programs accept applicants with undergraduate degrees in any field (not just education or teaching majors), so long as they are, or have been, teachers before applying. Even if you are looking at a college that doesn't require previous teaching experience, you should probably spend some time in front of a classroom before enrolling in a graduate program. Earning a master's is a substantial undertaking, so make sure you want this career before you commit.
For those who find it difficult to take time away from the classroom while earning a master's, there are a variety of online master's degree programs worthy of consideration. You don't have to put your career on hold while pursuing a language and literacy degree in elementary education.
Top ten reasons to get a master's in early childhood education reading
1: You'll change lives
Children who don't learn how to read often never fully recover. As a teacher focused on early learning, you'll set them up for a life of success. Literacy leads to:
- Better performance on standardized tests
- Higher confidence
- A chance to attend college and complete a bachelor's degree
More than that, it allows adults to understand their rights better and to process essential information.
2: You'll contribute to society
Adults who can't read are more likely to live in poverty and are more likely to become incarcerated. Literate adults are more financially stable and have the skills to make a positive contribution to society.
3: You'll help future generations
When children have parents with low literacy skills, there is a 72 percent chance that the child will also have a low reading level. If you possess the skills to help a young child become a capable reader, despite their life circumstances, you are giving future generations a better shot at life.
4: You'll have opportunities to specialize
Some early childhood education teachers choose to focus on special education, where school districts are often short of staff. As a special education teacher with a background in early childhood education reading, you'll have a unique skill set that will be desirable by hiring principals. A word of caution: special education is often the first area to feel the effects of budget cuts.
5: You'll build relationships
As a reading expert, you will have opportunities to work one-on-one with students. You'll do more than coach them and prepare them for standardized tests. You will get to know them and their potentials.
6: You'll enjoy excellent job prospects
The employment rate for preschool teachers is expected to increase by seven percent between 2018 and 2028, which is faster than the national average for the job market as a whole.
The growth is expected because of:
- Continued focus on the importance of early childhood education
- A growing population of children ages three to five
- Expected declines in student-teacher ratios in the classroom
7: You'll help other teachers
By earning a master's in early childhood education, you'll have the skills and knowledge to assist other teachers in helping their students with literacy issues. Whether they are teaching a student who only speaks a foreign language or someone who is struggling with reading skills, you can be a valuable sounding board and resource.
8: You'll earn a competitive salary
According to PayScale, teachers who possess an elementary education reading and literacy graduate degree earn an average salary of $53,000 per year. In contrast, those who only possess an elementary education undergraduate degree earn an average salary of $48,000 per year.
__9: You'll experience job satisfaction __
Helping people and changing the lives of children is one of the most rewarding careers a person can have. As a reading and literacy teacher, you'll likely have high job satisfaction.
10: You'll enjoy opportunities for career growth
A master's degree dramatically improves your chances to advance to positions of responsibility. You could remain a teacher and become a department head, typically with a pay increase. Or you could transition to a role in administration or education policy within your district. Many of these roles strongly favor—or require—master's degrees.
Careers for people with a master's in reading and literacy
Education is the second-most-popular graduate-level field of study, according to a 2015-16 report by the National Center for Education Statistics. U.S. postsecondary institutions conferred nearly 800,000 master's degrees that year; 18.6 percent were in education. In comparison, business and healthcare were 23.8 and 14 percent, respectively. According to the report, no other masters-level field of study comes close to these three in popularity.
People with a master's in early childhood literacy are most suited to becoming teachers. Additionally, they might end up working in education policy or administration—after some job experience, and potentially another master's degree.
If, for some reason, teaching preschool ceases to engage you, it is possible to make the transition to working in:
- After-school reading education
- Literacy coaching
- Adult education—-possibly for employees at a company
- Education research or writing
- Curriculum development or assessment
- Teaching/tutoring adults at a community center or hospital program
Best master's programs for early childhood education reading
The "best" master's program is hard to define. Factors that weigh into the decision include:
- State requirements (programs are typically designed to prepare you for licensing in the school's home state)
- Money (can you commit to private school prices when public school gets the job done?)
- Time (if you teach, it might be tough to go to school full-time yourself)
It's a personal decision that an algorithm can't make for you. Will you get what you need from a regionally accredited local institution, or do you need to attend a more expensive private school? Only you can make that call.
That said, some programs are generally considered the "best" for a graduate degree in teaching education. US News and World Report ranks education programs (although it does so across all focus areas; it does not rank schools specifically for its literacy programs).
Below is a list of well-ranked programs that offer concentrations in childhood literacy:
- Arizona State University - Tempe
- Michigan State University
- Northwestern University
- Teachers College at Columbia University
- University of Michigan - Ann Arbor
- University of Oregon
- University of Pennsylvania
Should you get a master's in early childhood education-reading?
Illiterate adults face multiple challenges, including:
- Higher likelihood of incarceration
- Difficulty understanding important information
- Lower income and job quality
- Reduced access to lifelong learning and professional development
- Generational illiteracy
- Low self-esteem
- Health concerns
If this bothers you enough that you need to do something about it, a master's in early childhood education-reading could be for you. Most people develop reading skills early in life or not at all. As an expert in early childhood reading, you can help move more people into the former category, to their benefit and the benefit of society as a whole.
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