The following sampling of our courses will give you an idea of what you’ll be taking:
(Click on each photo to enlarge it.)
Entry-Level Professional Courses
ECS 103 Introduction to Teaching Inclusive Early Childhood Special Education: In this course students explore early intervention and early childhood special education services. An important aspect of this course is an observational project where students work in small groups to gain understanding of quality inclusive programs. The project also allows for in-depth study of children, application of course content, and practice of teaming skills.
ECS 207 Supporting Social-Emotional Development in Inclusive Settings: Students in this course learn about the social and emotional development of young children by conducting case study research. Through interviews, observations, and review of artifacts, they increase their understanding of social-emotional development and its interrelatedness to other areas of development. For example, when peers interact, they may be developing social as well as motor skills.
ECS 203 Supporting Young Children in Inclusive Settings: Students take this course along with one of their required practicum classes. This concurrent enrollment allows them to put into practice the theory and research learned through readings and discussions. The focus is on strategies for supporting young children so that they can fully participate in inclusive settings and reach their full potentials.
ECS 375 Advanced Practicum in Early Childhood Special Education: Each student works with the course instructor to create a field-based practicum that allows for hands-on experience in specific areas of interest. For example, a student might elect to teach in one of the UMF children’s programs that include children with autism and other developmental delays or decide to work at an agency that provides advocacy for young children with disabilities and their families.
Advanced-Level Professional Courses
ECS 304 Supporting the Development of Infants, Toddlers, and Their Families in Natural Environments: The practical component of this course allows students to practice strategies for supporting adult-child interactions in order to promote optimal child development. Students learn to plan, implement, and evaluate developmentally and individually appropriate activities that facilitate learning for both children and adults. For example, a father who attended playgroups for several semesters was interested in observing his son’s understanding of cause and effect. Therefore, the playgroup facilitators planned an activity where the father and son would stack foam blocks at the bottom of the slide. The child could then slide down the incline into the blocks to experience how his actions caused an effect. In the process, he was also learning concepts such as up and down.
ECS 307 Addressing Developmental Differences: Using a case study approach, students learn more about the interaction of delays in development (cognitive, communication, social/emotional, and physical development) and their effect on play and learning. Role playing as a member of the team, students gain insights about working with a specific family, learn about the family’s cultural heritage and the parents’ priorities for their child. Together they create an early intervention plan and explore various assistive technologies to identify those that could assist the child in play and learning. Students also learn how to create a social story. Here is an excerpt from a student who created a social story for a child who lives on one of the Maine islands. Click on the icon for the Ferry Ride Story.
I wrote this for my focus child. I wanted to create a social story for this child in regards to WALKING onto the ferry boat. He exhibits apparent anxiety and elevated tantrum behavior when coming onto the boat. My social story will allow us to talk about the experience in a positive way by reading our story…probably many times! I included things like pizza, the seagull, and the fun car photo, as these are things he enjoys and may be helpful for enticement purposes. He also likes to “talk about” things he sees outside. It is a fun pastime when we go for a car ride or a walk.
ECS 374 Linking Assessment with Program Planning, Intervention, and Monitoring Children’s Progress: In this class, students conduct informal and formal assessments, study evidence-based practices, learn more about individualizing planning, embedding learning opportunities, and using child-focused instructional strategies for children with disabilities. To learn more about program planning, field trips may involve visiting various programs around Central Maine.
ECS 476 Assessment for Young Children At Risk for Disability: This course provides many opportunities to become more familiar with various ways educators gather information about children and their environments. For example, this photo depicting a detailed drawing by a five-year-old was collected by a student as evidence of the child’s emerging literacy. Students conduct a variety of assessments and learn about several approaches that are used to determine whether or not a child is eligible for early intervention or special education services.
ECS 479 Internship in Early Childhood Special Education: This field experience, for students electing the Birth-to-5 certification option, provides intensive opportunities to apply professional knowledge in various intervention and educational programs. Depending on their professional interests, students have opportunities to support infants and toddlers in natural environments, preschool children in inclusive community-based early childhood programs, or preschool children who are receiving specialized instruction in agency-based early childhood programs. Students may elect one-semester internships or two-semester part-time internships.
One great feature of the early Childhood Special Education program at UMF is that it offers many options. For my internship experience, I chose to spread my hours over two semesters. This has allowed me to follow a group of children for a significant amount of time, getting to know them and their families in depth. (M.M., Spring Term)
Special Topics Courses (Electives):
Special topics courses may be offered during the semester, May term, or summer session. These courses allow for in-depth exploration of a topic of interest. Below are descriptions of two recently taught special topics courses with some student comments.
The Culture of Poverty: This two credit seminar-type class focused on how poverty impacts young children and their families. Discussion of the implications for service providers working with families living in poverty was emphasized. The course was open to anyone interested in careers involving young children and their families. Here are some insights that students shared.
I feel I have learned so much about the social structure of families in poverty and how the children are affected. They cannot always leave their troubles home. They bring them to school and we, as teachers, need to be able to deal with whatever comes our way that day. Sometimes a child is mad or sad or scared or just not present. (T.L., May term)
Developing Cultural Competence: This two-credit seminar-type class allowed for examination of individual cultural values, as well as those of families from different backgrounds. The textbook offered practical information from experts with diverse cultural origins on how to communicate and work with families. Student outcomes included increased cultural awareness and responsiveness. Topics were related to families from diverse cultural backgrounds living in the US. Sample discussion topics included historical, religious and language origins, contemporary life, values, and recommendations for interventions. Here is a reflection that one student shared.
I have learned a lot about developing cross-cultural competence. Class activities, such as writing daily journals, completing an observation log, participating in class activities, and writing reading responses, helped me to gain cross cultural knowledge, and see things in a different light… These activities have opened my eyes to things that I never would have really thought about as being culturally diverse, like milestones in a child’s life. Talking as a class gave me insight into other people’s lives and their views, which only helped me to broaden my own views. I also learned to be careful of any biases that I may hold, whether intentional or not. I need to think of every family as individuals, and not base my knowledge on something that I have read, but on the individual family. (K.E., May term)