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Early Learning and Child Care Certificate

Make a difference in the lives of children, family, and communities. The 8-month (full-time) Early Learning and Child Care (ELCC) Certificate program prepares graduates to provide quality child care in a wide variety of settings and plan emergent play experiences for the children in their care. Knowledge of child development, family dynamics, play, and program planning will equip graduates to support the healthy development of children through child-centered learning experiences.

The program combines theory and practice and graduates are eligible for Child Development Worker certification from Alberta Human Services (formerly referred to as Level 2).

Interested in advancing even further in ELCC? Bow Valley College also offers a two-year ELCC diploma program.

Innovative Learning Lab and Practicum Project

The Early Learning and Child Care learning lab combines classroom space with interactive children’s learning centres that include an artist studio, a reading centre, a dramatic play centre, and a sensory motor centre. This innovative and engaging environment supports the transition of theory to practice as students have an opportunity to engage with children in the lab space.

Practicum Project
In their final semester, students have an opportunity to participate in the Practicum Project. Students take their practicum in our lab classroom mentored by Bow Valley College ELCC instructors, and work alongside educators, children, and parents from the YWCA at Bow Valley College Child Care Centre. This practicum focuses on emergent, child-centred, and play based curriculum. We focus on building strong and healthy relationships with the children and with all parties involved in the practicum experience. Students are involved in observing, documenting, and planning the curriculum to meet the children’s individual needs, interests, and development. By focusing on the belief that children, by nature, are unique and competent, we join children in their learning by encouraging exploration and creative expressions in richly designed environments created by students. This practicum has been well-received by students, instructors, children, and families. It is an intimate and focused project that refines student’s skills and aptitudes, and creates passions for lifelong learning.

Award-Winning Curriculum

  • Program Excellence Award – Association of Canadian Community Colleges, 2010
  • Innovation of the Year – League for Innovation in the Community College, 2009

International Practicum

Students can put their knowledge into practice in an overseas community working with community schools and agencies. In June 2012 and May 2013, learners went to rural Uganda. In 2014 learners went to Jamaica and in 2015 learners will be going to Guyana.

Scholarship for High School Students

Alberta Children and Youth Services provides a $2,500 post-secondary scholarship to successful Career and Technologies Studies students.

Flexible Delivery Options

ELCC programs are offered full-time or part-time with a variety of delivery options including traditional classroom, online learning, regional delivery, audio conferencing, blended delivery, and customized workshops.

In-class and Online learners take three credit courses that are 45 hours each. These courses are offered part-time starting at the beginning of each semester. Learners have the option to take their courses in-class traditionally or online.

Students registered in the traditional full-time Early Learning and Child Care Certificate program are required to write the Test of Workplace Essential Skills (TOWES) assessment in semester one.

Course Descriptions and Part-Time Schedule

Three Credit Course Descriptions (Traditional/Online) * Available September 2015

Instructor Bios

Early Learning and Child Care Instructor Bios

Need more info?

Student Advising Centre (formerly the Prospective Student Centre): 403-410-1402
Prior Learning Challenge: 403-410-1537

Do you have experience caring for children, and interested in using that experience to advance in the child care field? Read more about LEEP from the Government of Alberta.

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Courses in Program

Curriculum Subject to Change

Click on the course to view the course description.

Semester 1

ELCC1301 - Child Development: An Introduction (3 credits, 45 hours)

This introductory course focuses on the development of children from conception to twelve years of age, including the physical child, the thinking child, the social child and the whole child, as well as introducing atypical development. Students will study key theories and theorists in child development.

ELCC1101 - Introduction to Early Learning and Child Care (3 credits, 45 hours)

This survey course focuses on understanding the goals and essential components for the development of successful early childhood programs. Through the study of the role of early childhood professionals, students will gain insight into their own philosophy of early childhood education.

ELECTIVE - 1 of: SOCI1101, PSYC1101, HMSV1201, COMM1105, HMSV1302, MGMT1201, PSYC1201, PSYC2301, PSYC2401 (3 credits, 45 hours)

Learners choose 1 of the above electives.

ENG1201 - English Composition (3 credits, 45 hours)

Learners will explore various genres of English composition. This course is not remedial; competency in high-school grammar and composition is required.

ELCC1998 - Introduction to Developmentally Appropriate Practice in Early Learning and Child Care Settings - Practicum and Seminar (7 credits, 200+45 hours)

This practicum is designed to provide students with an opportunity to apply acquired skills and knowledge from a play-based perspective in appropriate childcare settings under the supervision of the College practicum supervisor and a designated mentor in the childcare setting. Basic health, safety and nutrition, observation and documentation, and appropriate practice with children across curricular areas are included through practice and seminar. Pre or Co Requisites: 6 credits of year 1 Early Learning and Child Care content coursework.

Semester 2

ELCC1305 - Developing Through Play (3 credits, 45 hours)

This introductory course will explore the role of play in children’s development and how play is integral to a child’s developmental needs. Students will develop an understanding of the relationship of play to the different developmental stages, as well as the role of the environment and the early childhood practitioner in enhancing children’s play. This course focuses on the planning of inclusive and appropriate play environments including indoor and outdoor play experiences. Students will explore a variety of play situations/materials in used childcare settings.

SOCI1201 - Sociology of the Family (3 credits, 45 hours)

This course introduces sociology of the family while developing a greater command of sociological imagination from various sociological perspectives. In addition, this course provides learners with a thorough grounding in both the theoretical and substantive issues in the sociological study of families. Issues dealt with include: how changes in the Canadian and global economies impact the definition of family; how the idea of family impacts the society's order; or whether common attitudes and beliefs about families can be proven empirically. As issues arise, learners explore demographic trends; examine how the challenges faced by families are social issues; and weigh common attitudes and stereotypes about families. Learners challenge the social practices, perceptions, and experiences related to families that are often taken for granted as "common sense", inevitable, or natural reality.

ELCC1309 - Guiding Young Children's Behaviour (3 credits, 45 hours)

This introductory course provides an understanding of children's behaviour in a developmental context, and the importance of realistic expectations of children in various stages. The social development of the young child will be examined in the context of positive guidance to support self regulation. Appropriate strategies to help children to develop positive self-esteem and develop appropriate behaviour will be discussed. The prevention of behaviour problems through developmentally appropriate practices and interventions will be emphasized.

COMM1101 - Interpersonal Relationships and Communication (3 credits, 45 hours)

Healthy interpersonal relationships are central to our happiness, overall well-being, and work place success. Effective communication, including mindful listening, conflict resolution, non-verbal communication, managing emotions, and perception checking, are critical in such interpersonal relationships. This course has been designed to aid students as they develop strategies necessary for effective and accurate communication in relationship with others, whether those relationships exist in a work place, a family, a friendship, or a classroom. It focuses on the development of personal strengths and self-awareness that contribute to the development of communication skills and positive relationships.

ELCC1999 - The Role of the Educator in Early Learning and Child Care (7 credits, 200+45 hours)

This practicum provides students with an opportunity to apply their skills and knowledge of the role of the educator in appropriate childcare settings under the supervision of the College practicum supervisor and a designated mentor in the childcare setting. Further discussion of working with diverse families and communities, the role of the educator in observation, documentation, the child’s voice, and play and working as a team member are included through practice and seminar.  Pre or Co Requisites: 12 credits of year 1 Early Learning and Child Care content coursework and a grade of P in HHC0340.

Admission Requirements - Currently subject to change

Academic Requirements

  • Credit in either English 30-1 or 65% in English 30-2 or equivalent


  • Successful completion of the General Educational Development test (GED) test with a minimum score in the following sections:
    • Writing Skills: 520 minimum standard score
    • Interpreting Literature and Art: 520 minimum standard score


  • Satisfactory results on the BVC Admissions Test

Pre-Practicum Requirement

  • A current Police Information Check (PIC) with a Vulnerable Sector Search (VSS) must be submitted prior to practicum placements. The existence of a criminal record may postpone or prevent clinical, practicum, or field work placements and, subsequently, successful completion of the program.

English Language Proficiency Requirements

Transferability - Currently subject to change

Graduates of this program may be accepted into:

Some transfer available from:

  • Calgary Board of Education
  • College of the North Atlantic
  • Heritage College
  • Lethbridge College
  • Medicine Hat College
  • Mothercraft College
  • Mount Royal University
  • Prairie College of Applied Arts and Technology
  • Red Deer College
  • St. Joseph College