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Early Childhood Education

Fulfil your passion for the care, education and development of children.

An Early Childhood Educator sits at a small table with a young child.
Start Date:
Typical Length:
2 Years (varies for part-time studies)

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Early childhood educators plan inclusive programs that help nurture the physical, psychological and social wellbeing of children and their families.

This project-based program was developed to meet the provincial standards for early childhood education training in Nova Scotia. It blends classroom study with applied learning with infants, toddlers, young children and school-aged children. Program highlights include: music and movement, land-based learning, wellness, developmental and cultural learning experiences, nutrition and creativity.

You learn:

  • The major theories of child care and development within a warm, caring and stimulating environment
  • The knowledge and skills you need to work with infants, toddlers, young children and school-aged children in a variety of settings
  • Effective communication strategies for working with children, families, fellow early childhood educators and other professionals
  • How to assess children's abilities and skills to create indoor and outdoor play-based, inclusive programming that emphasize the development of the whole child as a unique individual

Upon completion of this diploma, students receive the credential of Level 2 Classification under the Early Learning and Child Care Act and Regulation.

Clinical placement

  • This program includes mandatory clinical placements that may take place in a variety of settings.
    • Clinical placements are mandatory credit courses. They provide you with the opportunity to integrate theory with practice and understand the everyday challenges of a work environment.
    • Placement opportunities are typically unpaid.
  • Transportation, living accommodations and other costs related to clinical placements are your responsibility.
  • For more information visit work experience opportunities.
  • International students - all international students require a co-op work permit; you can't complete your NSCC program without one. This program also requires a medical exam to receive your co-op work permit. View co-op work permit - medical exam details.

Study options

  • Part-time: This program is available for part-time study at eCampus. The part-time program takes 4 years to complete.
  • Accelerated Early Childhood Education: This accelerated version of this program open to those currently employed in a licensed childcare centre or pre-primary program in Nova Scotia. You must be working at least 15 hours per week with a minimum of one year’s experience.

View funding and program details and learn how to apply to the Accelerated Early Childhood Education (with PLAR) offering.

  • Africentric Early Childhood Education: Akerley Campus is offering this program in an entirely Africentric learning environment available to those who self-identify as Black/African Nova Scotian (of African descent) and reside in Nova Scotia. Faculty are respected African Nova-Scotian educators who teach you about the major theories of child care and development. View details about the Africentric Early Childhood Education program. 
    • Financial support may be available to students enrolled in the program who are in good academic standing.
  • Pathways for Newcomers Early Childhood Education: This program is for newcomers to Canada residing in Nova Scotia who are working or want to work as an Early Childhood Educator (ECE) in a licensed childcare centre or pre-primary program in Nova Scotia. You must be prepared to work at least 15 hours per week while studying. 

    View funding and program details and learn how to apply to the ECE Pathways for Newcomers offering.

    • Virtual Early Childhood Education: This is full-time program targeting hard to recruit areas in Nova Scotia. It is open to those who want to become an Early Childhood Educator who reside in:
      • Northern (Pictou, Antigonish and Guysborough Counties),
      • South Shore (Lunenburg and Queens Counties),
      • Cape Breton (Inverness, Richmond, and Victoria Counties).

    Apply for September 2024 through the option eCampus Full-time Synchronous online. Learn more about funding and program details.

    Choose NSCC

    • You have the opportunity to spend a significant part of your time with children from infancy to 12 years of age, observing and supporting their learning in a variety of settings. This is an important and valued element in your learning portfolio.
    • You can access professional resources, training and support through provincial Early Childhood Development Support Centres. Each centre coordinates professional development activities and is equipped with a variety of resources, including a lending library, research support and educational/digital equipment.

    Other info

    • This program is not always offered at the same location each year. Check program locations for upcoming start dates.


    Seats are available at Burridge, Cumberland, Kingstec and Sydney Waterfront campuses for domestic applicants only. International applicants will be waitlisted.

    eCampus asynchronous online (part-time): The part-time program takes 4 years to complete.

    eCampus synchronous online (full-time): The full-time synchronous online offering is open to those applicants residing in the Northern (Pictou, Guysborough and Antigonish), South Shore (Lunenburg and Queens) and Cape Breton (Inverness, Richmond and Victoria) Counties. Applicants outside of these counties will be placed on a waitlist and offered a seat if there is remaining availability.

    September 2024

    Campus Full time/part time Delivery Availability
    Akerley Campus
    Full time In person
    Delivered in-person. Some courses may have online elements.
    Burridge Campus
    Full time In person
    Delivered in-person. Some courses may have online elements.
    Seats available
    Cumberland Campus
    Full time In person
    Delivered in-person. Some courses may have online elements.
    Seats available
    Part time Asynchronous online
    Delivered fully online with no scheduled classes.
    Full time Synchronous online
    Delivered fully online with both non-scheduled and scheduled classes.
    Kingstec Campus
    Full time In person
    Delivered in-person. Some courses may have online elements.
    Sydney Waterfront Campus
    Full time In person
    Delivered in-person. Some courses may have online elements.
    Seats available

    Admission requirements

    Program requirements

    • Completion of First Aid/CPR
    • Portfolio development – As part of your studies at NSCC, you develop a portfolio of your work; the portfolio captures your achievements and profiles your skills to employers.

    Tuition, fees and program costs

    Tuition for part-time study option is calculated on a per-course basis and is paid at the beginning of each term.

    In addition to annual tuition, there are program costs (books, tools, etc.) and student fees for College services, health and dental plans, your student association and parking.

    View detailed program fees page(s). Please note that amounts on these pages are meant for planning purposes only. They don't represent final amounts owing.

    If you have been accepted to the part-time accelerated offering through EECD, view detailed program fees.

    Career options

    • Graduates are qualified to work with infants, toddlers, young children, and school-aged children in licensed childcare settings, pre-primary, school-aged programs, Head Start, family resource outlets, early learning and child development centres.
    • Graduates may be eligible to work as educational assistants; please check with your desired school board for verification.
    • Many graduates find work providing childcare in private homes, as well as operating in-home daycares.

    Future study options

    Courses may include

    These are some of the courses offered in this program. It is not a complete list and courses are subject to change in advance of the academic year.

    Recognizing prior learning / transfer credits
    If you have previous learning (course, employment, etc...) that's relevant to your program, you may be able to apply to earn credit. Not all programs are eligible. Learn about our recognizing prior learning (RPL) process.

    ECSP 1000 - Fundamentals of Early Childhood Education
    This course provides an overview of the historical, societal, and theoretical origins of early childhood education. You will be exposed to the rationale for and process of process of planning, implementing, and evaluating developmentally appropriate programs for children from birth to age twelve in a variety of early learning and care settings. Issues and current dilemmas in early childhood education will be examined. Emphasis will be placed on the Canadian perspective of early childhood education.

    ECSP 1002 - Observing and Recording Young Children
    This course will provide you with the opportunity to develop skills in observation and appropriate recording of behaviours and physical changes of young children. You will investigate the rationale and processes for making formal documentation and apply the techniques in a variety of early childhood settings.

    ECSP 1004 - Aesthetics and Creativity
    This course is designed to assist you in developing an appreciation of the role of aesthetics and creative art in the overall development of children and the early childhood educator. Children's creative expression and sense of aesthetics will be enhanced through “hands-on” experiences with a wide range of materials, techniques and experiences. You will select, employ, evaluate and compile a variety of teaching strategies and materials that will enhance the aesthetic and creative development of the child from birth to age twelve.

    ECSP 1005 - Positive Child Guidance
    This course addresses typical characteristics and needs of children as they proceed through chronological and developmental stages and teaches developmentally appropriate guidance strategies. Emphasis will be placed upon strategies that enhance the child’s self esteem and stimulate the development of self-control. You will develop strategies which enhance children's self-esteem and assist them in learning about universal values and principles.

    ECSP 1006 - Health and Safety
    This course will provide opportunities for students to explore appropriate means of implementing the Nova Scotia regulations concerning health and safety in child care settings. You will plan and implement health promotion and safety strategies when working with children and families. You will explore the effect that family violence has on young children and recognize the signs of child abuse and neglect. You will also investigate the value of self-care.

    ECSP 1008 - Building and Supporting Professional Relationships
    You will learn to recognize the importance of and to develop strategies for establishing positive communication between primary caregivers, peers, child-related professionals and community members. You will learn the importance of communication and ethical behaviour in creating an atmosphere of trust, respect and professionalism. You will be exposed to current issues, the importance of advocacy, research and trends in early learning and care and related fields.

    ECSP 1009 - Emerging Literacy in the Early Childhood Years
    This course exposes you to a variety of language and literacy experiences appropriate for use from infancy through age twelve. You will review language development as well as gain a sound theoretical basis for planning. You will implement listening and speaking, reading and storytelling, poetry, flannel stories, puppetry, print-script, reading readiness and early literacy experiences. Emphasis will be placed upon your role in promoting language and literacy in a developmentally appropriate setting. You will discover how to choose methodologies and materials which support an anti-bias approach, within an inclusionary atmosphere of diversity.

    ECSP 1010 - Family Studies
    During the past few decades, family life in Canada has been undergoing many changes. This course deals with a variety of family challenges and family issues that have a direct relevance to the field of early learning and care. The course theory and assignments as well as class activities and discussions will help you manage future work situations.

    ECSP 1011 - Nutrition for Young Children
    This course provides you with the opportunity to explore nutritional needs of children as well as those of the child care educator. You will investigate nutritional planning, purchasing and cost control, safe food handling, feeding and eating habits.

    ECSP 1012 - Administering Early Childhood Services
    This course is designed to provide you with the basic information you will need to operate and/or manage an early childhood service. Information regarding licensing procedures and provincial legislation for a variety of early childhood programs will be reviewed. You will explore policies, business plans, and budgets as well as how to assure quality assurance through program assessment. In addition, you will learn key leadership qualities within Early Childhood Education.

    ECSP 1015 - Diverse and Inclusive Practice in ECE
    Learners in this course will be introduced to the theoretical constructs and practical considerations underlying the inclusion of young children with diverse needs into early learning and care programs. Emphasis will be placed upon the development and delivery of developmentally appropriate programs that will enhance the overall growth and development of every child. During this course, learners will apply theories and principles of inclusion in an early learning environment.

    ECSP 1016 - Music and Movement
    You will explore the many aspects of music and movement, which include singing, chanting, playing, moving, creating, with and without the use of props and equipment, and how these aspects can be incorporated into a curriculum for children from birth to age twelve.

    ECSP 1017 - Interpersonal Communication Skills
    This course introduces you to effective interpersonal communication. Effective communication is examined as a process and a skill. Factors that influence effective communication are considered. Ethical decision-making and group dynamics are also explored.

    ECSP 1018 - Wellness of Children, Families and Self
    This course examines three key areas that have an impact on children, families, and self. We will discuss and explain key trauma-related concepts, effects of behaviour, and how to respond to trauma induced behaviour. You will learn to create a learning environment that promotes safer space for both educator/child and educator/educator interactions. We will discuss and explore mental health conditions that may occur in early childhood, develop and implement strategies to support individuals experiencing trauma, and learn to recognize and discuss the language around sexual health and the role diverse families play in sexual health development. You will learn to identify and organize sexual health resources available within Nova Scotia for children from birth to 12 years of age.

    ECSP 1028 - Human Growth and Development I
    This course examines the growth and developmental of individuals from conception through the various stages of childhood. The emphasis is on applying theories of child development to facilitate an understanding early childhood, specifically the physical, cognitive, language, personality, moral, social and emotional development of children aged birth to twelve years.

    ECSP 1054 - Work Experience I
    The Early Childhood Education work experience provides you with opportunities to participate in a variety of non-paid or workplace practicum, supervised and regulated early childhood settings with a variety of age groups. You will gain and expand skills through practical application of early childhood developmental and curriculum theories and demonstrate increasing levels of proficiency.

    ECSP 1056 - Work Experience II
    You will apply techniques of classroom management and positive child guidance, program planning, interaction strategies, as well professional communication strategies with children, parents and colleagues. You will be encouraged to engage in reflective practice through work experience journal entries and to develop your own professional style and philosophical views of teaching and learning. Participation in practicum is dependent upon you demonstrating the required skills or attainment of knowledge required in a cooperating centre. Emphasis will be placed on your ability to put theory to practice and in demonstrating an understanding of child development.

    ECSP 1123 - Infant and Toddler Care
    This course concentrates on the acquisition of knowledge and skills necessary to care for, develop, and implement appropriate programs and environments for children between the ages of birth and thirty-six months. Curriculum is viewed in a holistic framework with attention to the development of the infant and toddler in the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional domains. The individualistic nature of all children is recognized and supported. The focus of this course is on the specifics of "hands on care" required to nurture the Infant and toddler.

    ECSP 1125 - Young Children
    This course is designed to enable you to develop effective programs, environments and strategies for preschool age children based upon a sound knowledge of child development. An emphasis will be placed on cultural and individual diversity, inclusion and anti-bias approaches to programming.

    ECSP 1127 - School Age Care
    This course is designed to assist the learner in developing the knowledge and skills necessary to effectively plan and implement school-age child care programs. You will acquire knowledge of issues related to growth and development of the child from six to twelve such as making and keeping friends, self-esteem, and bullying.You will explore developmentally appropriate curricula and environments for children age five through twelve. Emphasis is placed upon meeting the needs of a diverse group of children, incorporating an anti-bias and inclusionary approach. The distinct role of the early childhood educator working with school-aged children is differentiated from the role of the elementary school teacher.

    ECSP 1200 - Learning Through Play
    This course focuses on the theories, concepts and functions of play in the holistic development of children. You will gain an appreciation for play as the occupation of childhood. You will develop underlying principles and strategies that will guide you in planning and implementing developmentally appropriate learning experiences and environments. You will investigate the role of the early childhood educator, indoor/outdoor play spaces, materials and equipment in planning and supporting children’s diverse learning needs.

    ECSP 2028 - Human Growth and Development II
    The purpose of this course is to examine physical, cognitive, social, and emotional aspects of development from adolescence through adulthood, including the processes of maturation and aging. Issues related to diversity, special needs, grief and loss are also addressed.

    ECSP 2054 - Work Experience III
    You will continue to hone and demonstrate your skills as you take on increasing responsibility in planning and implementing a variety of developmentally appropriate activities with minimal support. You will be expected to maintain effective communication and relationships with both children and co-workers and to demonstrate a sound knowledge of developmentally appropriate practices.

    ECSP 2056 - Work Experience IV
    During this final practicum of the ECE program, you will show proficiency in all areas related to the early childhood setting, working independently to guide children’s behaviour, plan and implement activities and maintain the daily routine. Youwill be expected to demonstrate a sound knowledge of child development, health and safety issues, developmentally appropriate practices and ethical behaviour.

    ECSP 2205 - Land Based Curriculum for the Outdoor Learning Environment
    This course examines land based curriculum in the context of the Mi’kmaw culture to help you understand the importance and benefits of outdoor play for holistic child development. You will explore land-based play and co-learning through both Indigenous and non-Indigenous ways of being, seeing, knowing, and doing. In learning our connection to land as teacher, this course takes place on the lands of the regional landscapes in Mi’kma’ki. Co-learning engages Indigenous and non-Indigenous faculty, Elders, Knowledge Holders and students in the learning process.

    GDEV 1028 - Human Growth and Development I
    This course examines the growth and developmental of individuals from conception through the various stages of childhood. The emphasis is on applying theories of child development to facilitate an understanding early childhood, specifically the physical, cognitive, language, personality, moral, social and emotional development of children aged birth to twelve.

    GDEV 2028 - Human Growth and Development II
    The primary purpose of this course is to examine physical, cognitive, social, and emotional aspects of development from adolescence through adulthood, including the processes of maturation and aging. Issues related to diversity, special needs, grief and loss are also addressed.

    SAFE 1000 - Introduction to WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information Systems)
    This course offers learners basic overview of WHMIS principles and establishes a solid foundation to support workplace-specific training on the safe storage and handling of controlled/hazardous products. Upon successful completion of the course, students receive basic WHMIS certification.

    SAFE 1001 - Introduction to NS OH&S Act
    This course offers students an introduction to the Occupational Health & Safety (OH&S) Act of Nova Scotia, which is required by any person employed in a Nova Scotia workplace. This is a generic, introductory course that provides basic knowledge of the Act for students and is considered to be the basis from which more specific training can be given.

    SOCS 1000 - Introduction to Sociology
    This survey course focuses on the major sociological concepts and theoretical perspectives.

    SOCS 1001 - Introduction to Psychology
    This survey course will introduce students to the scientific study of human behaviour and mental processes. It will explore its goals, theoretical perspectives, research and applications. It will challenge students to make connections between areas of study and their everyday experience.

    SOCS 1005 - Writing Skills for Social Service Practice I
    Effective written communication skills are a necessary component for success in the social services environment where transparency, accountability and integrity are core values connected to providing service for others. This one semester course is designed to afford the student the opportunity to develop the skills required to manage information and prepare documents used in the social services field.

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    A headshot of Amelia, as she looks back over her shoulder on a balcony.
    Amelia Dinh
    Class of 2021
    I got hands-on training and real-world experience to help me prepare to serve children and families. Faculty members went above and beyond to make this a valuable, connected and worthwhile learning experience.

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