Preschool teachers prepare young students for kindergarten by helping them to develop language, motor, and social skills. They will plan and carry out curriculum as well as supervise children during physical activities, play, and rest time. In addition, they monitor the children's development and watch for signs of any developmental or emotional issues as they prepare them for further schooling. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), preschool teachers are tasked with the following duties:
- Work with children either individually or as a group, instructing them in a variety of foundational subjects.
- Organize activities and lesson plans for children.
- Monitor students' development and preparation for further schooling, reporting any issues to parents.
- Keep records regarding student progress, development, routines, and interests.
Teachers at this level have a crucial role to play in the educational system, helping young children to develop the knowledge and skills they need to continue on to kindergarten. And with an increased awareness of the importance of early childhood education, the demand for preschool teachers is increasing at a faster than average rate.
Job Growth for
Becoming a Preschool Teacher
Those interested in pursuing preschool teaching careers will need to have at least a high school diploma and early childhood education certification to enter the field. Depending on the specific employer, candidates with some postsecondary training in this area may be given preference. However, if you are interested in working as a Head Start teacher, at least an associate degree is required. By 2013, standards will be raised requiring at least 50% of teachers in the Head Start program to have a bachelor's degree in early childhood education or a related field.
In addition to these educational background requirements, some states also require preschool teachers to earn certification. This may be through organizations such as the Council for Professional Recognition or National Early Childhood Program Accreditation. In public schools, teachers must be licensed by the state to teach early childhood education as well. To prepare for this career path, students may take classes such as:
- Early Childhood Development
- Curriculum Planning
- Behavior Management
- Child Health, Safety, and Nutrition
In addition to major courses, students will also need a strong foundation in composition and communication. Practicum courses will help teachers in training put the theories and concepts they have learned throughout the program into practice. Depending on the level of study you choose to complete, a range of general education classes may also be required.