How to Become a Preschool Teacher
A preschool teacher is an educator who specializes in working with young children, specifically in the years before they attend school. A preschool teacher helps children learn essential skills. These can be skills like reading, writing, and listening, or social skills like sharing and playing in a group.
Children under the age of five learn through play, so much of the interaction of a preschool teacher with their students involves games, storytelling, and other activities that kids consider fun.
If you enjoy spending time with children, are patient and good at explaining things, and interested in teaching, then you might like to become a preschool teacher. Many preschool teachers have bubbly personalities, but also have good skills to cope and stay calm in a crisis.
Education Requirements to Become a Preschool Teacher
There are lots of ways you can prepare to become a preschool teacher while you are still in high school. Getting a job at an after and before school care program is good experience, as is babysitting for friends or family. You could also volunteer with local children's groups.
If you want to become a preschool teacher that works in a day care center, you will need a high school diploma. To work with older children in a preschool, you will need to complete some further education.
While the education requirements vary from state to state, in most places you will need a four-year bachelor's degree in childhood education to work as a preschool teacher. After graduation, you will also need to be licensed in your state before you can start working.
A preschool teacher must also be trained in CPR and first aid. You can learn more about certification requirements at the CDA Council website.
Preschool Teacher Job Description
A preschool teacher works with children ages 3 to 5 to help them develop language, literacy, social, and emotional skills. This is done through a range of activities, both in groups, or one on one.
A preschool teacher develops curriculums, runs classes, and ensures that children are progressing as they learn. They may communicate with parents and write reports on a child's progress.
Teachers work with a range of students from many different cultural and ethnic backgrounds. For this reason, being able to relate to all different kinds of people is important. Many teachers receive specialized training in this area. Multicultural programs are becoming an important part of the curriculum in many preschools.
Here are some of the tasks of a preschool teacher:
- Developing curriculum
- Running classes with children
- Running activities like storytelling, painting, or other games
- Supervising play time
- Helping children with language and literacy
- Helping children with social and emotional skills
- Writing reports
- Communicating with parents
- Disciplining children
Preschool teachers work for ten months of the year, then get a two month break over summer. Many use this time for professional development. Others take a summer job, travel, or peruse personal interests.
Preschool Teacher Salary and Career Path
Upon completing the qualifications and licensing needed to become a preschool teacher, most will get their first job as an assistant teacher. After a few years they may move on to the position of preschool teacher, leading teacher, and even head of school.
Some will go on to related jobs within the education sector. These could include:
- Elementary school teacher
- High school teacher
- Educational researcher
- Leading teacher
- Head of School
A preschool teacher could expect to earn about $27,000 a year. With a few years experience, you could expect this to increase to close to $40,000 a year.
Employment growth is strong in this sector. Once you are qualified you won't have any problems finding a job. There is a high turnaround in this field as many leave to persue other jobs, care for their family, or return to study.
If you love spending time with children and are a good leader, then you might enjoy a career as a preschool teacher. Job prospects are good and expected to increase. This is also a job that can lead on to other opportunities in the education field. Many preschool teachers find that working with children to give them a good start in their academic life is very rewarding.
*Salary Information provided by the Bureau Of Labor Statistics