Elementary education majors must consider what areas of specialization or age-level endorsements may be beneficial to their chosen career path when selecting a minor. A minor can help an elementary teacher become qualified to teach a larger range of age and ability levels. Many schools are more likely to hire an elementary teacher who is specially trained in a high-need area, such as special education. Individual state teacher requirements vary and availability of elementary education minors vary by college or university.
Early Childhood Education
Central Washington University recommends that elementary education majors complete minor requirements to also become certified to teach early childhood. An endorsement in early childhood requires students to complete student teaching in a kindergarten through third grade classroom. Courses in child development and learning, child safety, history of early childhood development and related theories are covered in an early childhood minor.
Junior High or Middle School
Some states license elementary teachers to teach sixth grade, which is often classified as middle school. Middle school students generally transfer between classrooms for subject-specific instruction. As the University of Wisconsin's School of Education reports, elementary education majors can choose a dual-minor program to become certified to teach two specific subjects at the middle school level. For example, classes could cover methods for teaching algebra, biology, chemistry, physics and earth sciences at the middle school level.
A minor in language arts, reading, math or science can help an elementary teacher prepare to teach an individual subject to elementary students. Reading or language arts instruction is particularly emphasized at the elementary level, but a science or math minor may be more unusual, making it easier for a new teacher to find a job. An art minor gives elementary teachers a foundation in art theory and practice and how to teach art at the elementary or secondary level. Similar minors can prepare teachers in art, physical education or music. Teachers with a minor in Spanish may be particularly marketable in areas heavily populated with Hispanic students.
According to the website for Rider University's School of Education, students with a minor in Special Education will take a set of interdisciplinary courses to fulfill the requirements to become state certified to teach students with special needs or disabilities, in addition to certification to teach elementary education. Typical courses in a special education minor would cover inclusion of special needs students, assessment and teaching methods for students with disabilities, classroom management, behavioral modification and technology.
Gifted and Talented
The Lewis-Clark State College website reports that a Gifted and Talented Education minor will enable a teacher to work with gifted and talented children in kindergarten through grade 12, or to become a coordinator for gifted and talented programs within a school. Typical courses in the gifted and talented minor would focus on social and emotional needs of gifted and talented students, creativity and critical thinking skills, curriculum, instruction and critical issues related to gifted and talented education.
- Central Washington University: Early Childhood Education (Major and Minor)
- University of Wisconsin – Madision: School of Education Mathematics–Science Dual Minor
- Eastern Washington University: Art Minors
- Rider University: Special Education Minor for Elementary Education Majors
- Lewis-Clark State College: Gifted and Talented Minor and Endorsement Grades K-12
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