The PK-4 teaching option in the Elementary & Early Childhood Education (CEAED) major supports the growth and content understanding beginning with the youngest learners through the fourth grade. The PK-4 option uses the Penn State Teacher Education Performance Framework to guide the development of teaching and learning within the CEAED PK-4 courses and experiences.

Major Requirements

Undergraduate students interested in the PK-4 option take general education courses and Entrance to Major (ETM) requirements typically during their first two years and apply to the program during their 4th semester.

Upon entrance to the major, teacher candidates take the required courses to complete the option during their final two years. This generally includes completing the courses in the Arts & Literacy block during the third year (or summer after the third year) and the courses in the Discipline Inquiry (DI) block one or two semesters prior to student teaching.

Student Teaching

Candidates may choose from several options for a semester-long student teaching experience during their final year. During student teaching, candidates are placed in a school setting for a semester or longer where they work closely with a student teaching supervisor and mentor teacher to gain extensive experience in teaching. Students who choose the Professional Development School (PDS) option complete a full-year field experience that includes both the DI block and student teaching (30 credits total).

Upon successful completion of all requirements for graduation, students receive a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree. For teacher certification, students must also meet all clearance and testing requirements specified by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.


Graduates have often been successful in securing teaching positions in public and private schools. Because school employers seek top quality teachers, graduates benefit from the excellent reputation of Penn State's teacher education programs.

The CEAED PK-4 option is recognized by the National Association for the Education of Young Children and is reviewed by the Pennsylvania Department of Education to ensure that all certificate requirements are being met.

Relevant Links


The Arts & Literacy Block is taken during semesters 5 or 6 and includes the courses:

  • LLED 400 Teaching Reading in the Elementary School
  • LLED 401 Teaching Language Arts in the Elementary School
  • LLED 402 Teaching Children's Literature in the Elementary Classroom
  • CI 497 The Creative Child: Arts and Creativity in the Educative Process
  • CI 497 Multimodal Literacies

Teacher candidates are assigned to a cohort that takes all five courses together. Instructors collaborate to create a shared vision for supporting teacher candidates to build a broader and more inclusive understanding of the arts, literacy, learning, children, and communities. Block goals include:

  • understanding that there are multiple childhoods in America and how this impacts a teacher’s responsibilities;
  • understanding children’s acquisition and uses of the arts, literacy and literature for children through early childhood and into the elementary years;
  • developing a professional understanding of methods of pedagogy, curriculum planning and assessment that supports the needs of individual learners;
  • understanding children’s making of meaning through multiple modalities -- e.g., art, music, dance, film, digital production, etc. -- and how to integrate these in pre-K– 4 classrooms;
  • developing an understanding of how to support children whose strengths might be different than traditional conceptions of reading and writing;
  • developing an appreciation of the central role of play and of popular culture in children’s lives;
  • and developing knowledge of how to bridge differences between home and school lives and expectations.

Teaching literacy and the arts is both an intellectual and practical matter in which teachers work in conjunction with other school personnel, parents, and students to offer experiences that invite students to acquire literacy and to learn about it in and out of the classroom

The DI (Discipline Inquiry) Block is a group of courses that CEAED candidates take after the Language and Literacy (LLED) Block and before the student teaching semester.

The DI Block consists of three courses on teaching and learning the content of mathematics (MTHED 420), science (SCIED 458), social studies (SS ED 430W), and a course accompanying a classroom placement (C I 495A).

Whereas the three methods courses are based on campus, candidates in the DI Block travel to their assigned placement classroom throughout the semester, where they observe and assist an experienced classroom teacher. Also as part of the C I 495A course, the candidates have a university supervisor who provides support and feedback about meeting professional expectations and planning and teaching lessons.

The three methods courses address issues and approaches that are unique to their respective disciplines, but they also share several emphases and objectives. All three courses contain readings, activities, and assignments that draw upon and inform the candidates’ classroom field experience.

The methods courses also emphasize the importance of developing informed and inquiring perspectives about teaching, learning, assessment, curriculum, and technology within and among particular subject matters. At the completion of the DI Block, candidates are prepared to assume increased responsibility in teaching children in classroom settings.

When scheduling for the DI Block be sure to register under C I 497 (Discipline Inquiry Block) and not under the individual courses.

All of the above courses must be taken in the same semester (as a block course).

For class times, please look under the individual courses in the schedule of courses.

During the DI block, teacher candidates continue their work on their web-based teaching portfolios. For further information, visit Web-Based Teaching Portfolio.

For questions or more information regarding the DI Block please contact the Curriculum and Instruction Field Experiences Office (CIFE).