The early childhood field is growing as researchers uncover the importance of the years before children enter school in influencing their cognitive, social, emotional and physical development. The demand for early childhood professionals also is growing as new programs are developed for preschool children at public schools, as Head Start and other children's programs receive more funding, and as greater numbers of children require child care.
Early childhood professionals need to have a solid foundation in child development and a broad background that includes course work in the social context of development and family, developmentally appropriate practices of teaching and learning for young children, and nutrition and health. Recommendations by learned societies for professionals working with young children include the establishment of interdisciplinary majors in early childhood so that students can obtain a comprehensive background in each of these areas. Muskingum College's interdisciplinary major in Child and Family Studies is established on these principles. Selected work experiences with children of differing ages (birth to three, preschool and kindergarten) are included. Finally, the program gives students an opportunity to develop expertise in one area of specialization ( Administration, Child Development, Research, or Human Services Preparation). The three available areas of specialty lead to three of the most common career paths.