Early Childhood Education

The Associate of Arts degree in Indigenous Early Learning offers students residency coursework and distance learning modules with an emphasis on language, cultural programming, community engagement, reflective practice, and early childhood education. There is a strong Iñupiaq Studies component incorporated into the degree with the required twelve (12) credit hours of Iñupiaq language, cultural and traditional arts.

The AA Degree is usually considered a transfer degree and can serve as the freshman and sophomore years at four-year colleges and universities. Graduates of the Indigenous Early Learning AA degree program are able to follow a seamless transition to a bachelor’s degree through an articulated agreement with a partner teacher training program.

Language Nest/Lab School:

The Uqautchim Uglua (Language Nest) Learning Center serves the Iḷisaġvik College community as a teacher training lab school and observation site for students enrolled in the program. Practicum and internship opportunities are conducted in an Iñupiaq immersion early learning setting for twelve students ranging from birth to three years of age. The Learning Center will model the delivery of the North Slope Borough School District’s Iñupiaq Learning Framework (ILF) in a preschool setting. By extending this curriculum to pre-school students, the North Slope’s youngest children will develop the cognitive, interpersonal and motor schools they need to enter school developmentally ready for academic success. Click the image below to access the Uqautchim Uglua website.


Click here to access Uqautchim Uglua’s Parent/Community Newsletter, Uqapiaqtaurat.

Program Outcomes:

Upon successful completion of the Associate of Arts degree, graduates will be able to:

  • Demonstrate and apply knowledge of early childhood developmental theories and Indigenous Ways of Knowing.
  • Observe, document and assess young children by utilizing systematic observations, documentation and other effective assessment strategies in an early childhood development environment.
  • Engage as self-reflective members of the Early Childhood profession and use ethical guidelines and other professional standards related to early childhood practice.
  • Apply scientific method; including observation, hypothesis formulation and testing, and evidence evaluation.
  • Clearly and logically communicate in writing and speaking and demonstrate effective listening and reading skills
  • Retrieve information using technology and traditional library methods. Evaluate the validity of research sources, analyze primary and secondary resources and organize a research essay and/or oral presentation demonstrating the appropriate research and documentation process.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of and apply Indigenous knowledge systems and Iñupiaq world view through history, language, performing and/or fine arts traditions as they relate to early childhood education.
  • Integrate and practice Iñupiaq knowledge, culture, and values in the classroom and other interpersonal settings.
  • Examine, understand and use multiple effective and culturally relevant teaching strategies to positively influence young children’s development and learning.

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The AA program offers a holistic approach designed to support Native students in their learning.

Courses include*:

  • Child Development
  • Introduction to Early Childhood Professions
  • Teaching Children’s Health and Wellness
  • Language and Creative Expression
  • Language Nest Lab School Practicum
  • Small Business Planning for Child Care


*Please see course catalog for list of required courses