Certificate in Early Learning


A part-time program for working professionals

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The Evangelical Lutheran Education Association (ELEA), in partnership with Trinity Lutheran College, offers a 20-credit Certificate in Early Learning designed for working professionals in early childhood education. Courses in the program provide a faith-based perspective on child development, learning environments, curriculum development, and more. Classes are offered both online and on campus.

Required courses
  • Child Growth & Development (4 credits)
  • Observation: Developing Attentiveness (4 credits)
  • Environments for Teaching & Learning (4 credits)
  • Curriculum and Content Areas (4 credits)
  • Philosophy of Teaching & Learning (2 credit independent study)
  • Elective course (2 credits) with options including: Children and Nature; Children’s Literature; study trip to Scotland to view world-class early childhood programs; or independent study on topic of your choice.

All courses are taken for college-level credit (not continuing education units) that will appear on a transcript issued by Trinity Lutheran College.

Upon completion of all requirements, students are awarded a Certificate in Early Learning from the ELEA.

Program objectives

Since the time of the Reformation, Lutherans have been avid supporters of education for all persons. Historically, this was demonstrated in the study of faith in both Sunday School and Confirmation. More recently, an emphasis on education has included preschool, kindergarten, elementary and high schools, where faith knowledge and practices are integrated into a holistic education.

The Certificate in Early Learning program is intended to advance the study of early
learning with a faith perspective and is directed specifically at the preschool-aged child.

As a result of this program, certificate students will:

  1. Enhance their knowledge and understanding of the whole child: their physical, emotional, social, cognitive and spiritual development.
  2. Develop an attitude of intentionality in their work with young learners.
  3. Regain the excitement for learning alongside children.
  4. Increase their understanding of how children learn through play.
  5. Understand the importance of early learning for future achievement and fulfillment of God’s gifts for each individual.
  6. Connect young children with God’s creation; recognizing the importance of outdoor, natural play in the development of creativity, spirituality, cooperation, and skills in problem solving.

Program faculty

Sue HouglumCourses are led by Susan Houglum, Professor & Chair of Early Childhood Education, at Trinity Lutheran College. In more than 15 years as a college instructor, she has taught courses in early learning, child development, children’s literature, children and nature, and congregational Christian education.

Professor Houglum brings four decades of experience working with young children, including teaching preschool and kindergarten in the Eskimo village of Teller, Alaska, directing Nome Childcare, and owning and teaching in the Children’s Learning Center in Kodiak, Alaska. She also taught at Oak Hill School in Nashville, a preschool for children of country music stars, and held a teaching position with Kodiak College, a branch campus of the University of Alaska. Professor Houglum’s graduate studies at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College of Education emphasized young children and the importance of play in their learning.

Tuition and fees

ELEA members receive a significant tuition discount to participate in this program. Tuition is billed per course at the rate of $135 per semester credit, which is competitive with community college rates in Washington. The entire program can be completed for about $2,700.

Please note that Trinity reserves the right to require a minimum number of students to register in order to offer courses.

For more information

For more information about the Certificate in Early Learning, contact Susan Houglum, Professor & Chair of Early Childhood Education, at 425.249.4720 or sue.houglum@TLC.edu.