Preschool teachers typically work with children who are up to 5 years of age. Since preschool children primarily learn from play and interactive activities preschool teachers utilize a less structured approach to learning when compared to kindergarten and elementary school teachers. They also observe and evaluate the social and physical development and behavior of preschoolers.
They enhance social skills by having the children work on simple projects and tasks as a team. In order to advance children's language and vocabulary proficiency, preschool teachers utilize action and rhyming games and tell stories. They also provide an introduction to mathematical and scientific concepts with activities such as counting and balancing blocks. Preschool teachers offer small group lessons and individual attention in order to help children learn and obtain skills.
- Demonstrate activities to preschoolers
- Organize and lead activities including storytelling, arts and crafts, games, field trips and music
- Observe and evaluate social development and behavior and physical development
- Discuss with parents the progress and needs of their children
- Discuss with parents and supervisors children that display emotional, behavioral or health problems
- Take care of preschoolers basic needs such as meals
- Establish and enforce rules of behavior
- Teach numbers, colors, shapes and letters
- Provide materials and resources for children
- Teach social skills
- Teach personal hygiene and proper eating habits
- Read books to children
- Alter teaching strategies and instructional materials when appropriate
- Maintain records of children
- Create reports on preschoolers
- Work with other staff members
Helping children develop skills and watching them develop a joy for learning is often very gratifying for those in the occupation. However, sometimes the job can be frustrating due to working with some children who do not have a desire to learn or have behavioral problems.
Preschool teachers should have good communication and motivational skills. Creativity, patience, empathy and a joy for working with children are other important aspects of the job. Recognizing a child's emotional needs is also part of the profession.
Preschool teachers typically work in comfortable classrooms and often spend part of their day outside. Part-time jobs are common at preschools. Preschool teachers that are employed in daycare centers typically work all year long.
Typically, preschool teachers begin their careers as teacher assistants and with experience some advance to a lead teacher job. Sometimes lead teachers are responsible for several classes. In addition, preschool teachers that hold a bachelor's degree are often qualified to teach kindergarten through the third grade level.
In 2006 the median earnings for preschool teachers was $22,680. Also, in 2006 there were about 437,000 preschool teachers. About 59 percent were employed in child daycare services. About 16 percent were employed in public and private educational services and 15 percent worked for religious organizations.
The employment of preschool teachers is projected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations. Demand for preschool teachers is projected to grow primarily due to an increase in enrollment of preschool children. The demand may also grow due to some states providing programs to improve early childhood education which may include universal preschool. The availability of preschool teaching positions also depends on location.
Education, Certification, and Licensing
Typically, employers due not require preschool teachers to have a bachelor's degree. Often experience with working with children is a major priority. However, completing postsecondary courses in related subjects is a plus.
Licensing requirements for preschool teachers vary by state. In most states, the requirements for preschool teachers working in public schools are more rigorous when compared to those working in private preschools. Some states require public school preschool teachers to have a bachelor's degree and some states require an associates's degree.
In a number of states they must have a certificate from a nationally recognized authority. The Child Development Associate credential, which is the most popular version, requires a blend of classroom learning and experience working with children. An assessment of the competence of the candidate is also required. In general, private schools are exempt from having to meet state licensing standards.
Daycare centers, schools and religious organizations are the major employers of preschool teachers.
Schools for Preschool Teachers are listed in the Browse Schools Section.