Preschool teachers lay the groundwork for children’s future learning, so it’s crucial for them to be appropriately educated. This is why public schools require preschool teachers to have a degree at minimum.
So, what qualifications do you need to be a preschool teacher? Most states require preschool teachers to have minimum training in early childhood education. This training can be a bachelor’s degree or, at minimum, an associate’s degree. Child Development Associate credentials and work experience are also required.
Read on to learn more about the training and qualities that a preschool teacher should have.
What Degree Do You Need To Be A Preschool Teacher?
To become a preschool teacher, you’re required to have a bachelor’s or at least an associate’s degree in early childhood education. Generally, earning an associate’s degree will take two years, and a bachelor’s degree will take four years.
Though these degrees are typically offered in colleges, you can also find them online. The core course studied in Early Childhood Education is teaching methodology. You also get the chance to practice teaching and accumulate hands-on experience by interacting with real preschoolers.
Along with teaching methodology, preschool teachers also learn the following while studying for the degree;
- How to manage classes
- How to maintain safety in school
- The different stages of childhood development
- How to assess the progress of preschool children
- How children’s language develops over time
- Different ways to communicate with children
In some places, a degree is not enough to get a job as a preschool teacher. Instead, the state requires you to earn a Child Development Associate credential after completing your degree. This credential is given after you complete a CDA course and rack up 480 hours of work experience.
In addition to the degree, you’ll need a teacher’s license to teach in public schools. License requirements differ from state to state, but you’re generally required to have a degree and pass a competency exam.
In addition to a degree, experience working at daycare is excellent since it gives you practical knowledge on dealing with kids.
What Do Preschool Teachers Do?
Your primary role as a preschool teacher is preparing young children for school. These preschool children are, on average, aged between 3-5 years and need to be molded socially and mentally. The responsibilities of a preschool teacher include the following:
- Plan the curriculum
- Create a routine and schedule daily activities
- Observe the children and identify any delays in development
- Create a conducive learning environment and provide learning resources
- Develop teaching methods that foster learning and exploration
- Establish rules and instill discipline
- Record the progress of the children in the class
- Teach basic life skills
- Develop nurturing relationships with the kids and their parents.
Can You Teach Pre-School Without A Degree?
Yes, it is possible to teach preschool without a degree. However, that won’t be at any public schools since they require a degree as the minimum qualification. As a result, you will only be able to teach in private schools and daycare centers.
Although you can teach in private preschools without a degree, getting one will take your career a notch higher. For example, a degree will allow you to vie for the lead teacher position and bring you higher wages.
What Qualities Should A Pre-School Teacher Have?
Aside from having a degree, there are some qualities that every good preschool teacher should possess. They include;
1. Good Communication
Young children have diverse learning styles because they come from vastly different environments. To be a good preschool teacher, you must communicate effectively with every child. Hence, the ability to use varying methods to pass your message to kids is essential.
Since preschool classes are the earliest formal settings a child is exposed to, they need to be as comfortable as possible. Hence, communication with parents is essential because it helps create a smooth transition from home to school.
Children can be challenging to deal with because they don’t always follow instructions. Often, a preschool teacher has to repeat instructions several times before the child responds and follows. It is, therefore, necessary for a preschool teacher to be highly patience.
For a teacher dealing with preschool children, creativity is vital. Very young children tend to be easily distracted if the classes aren’t fun and engaging. Therefore, a preschool teacher must find creative ways to make lesson fun, exciting and interactive.
The amount of effort a preschool teacher has to put into teaching kids is staggering. Since children have never been to class and have diverse learning styles, the teacher has to find new ways to teach regularly. Hence, a preschool teacher needs to be passionate.
Teaching preschool children requires a lot of things to be done together. The teacher has to make lesson plans, arrange meetings with parents, and keep records of the children’s progress. Hence, teaching preschool requires you to hone your organizational skills.
Here are some answers to common questions about teaching preschool.
How much does a preschool teacher with a degree earn?
Though the actual wages a preschool teacher earns differ according to location, the average is $36,280 annually. The range of salary lies between $32,800 and $41,300 per year. On average, preschool teachers at private and public schools earn more than those at daycares and religious organizations.
What other courses can you study to become a preschool teacher?
Apart from Early Childhood Education, you can study the following programs to become a preschool teacher;
- Early childhood development
- Educational psychology
Almost all colleges offer these programs so that you can enroll in physical classes at any time. However, these courses are also available online if you can’t take physical classes.
If you are passionate about teaching young children, earning a bachelor’s or at least an associate’s degree in early childhood education is essential. You can also take courses in educational psychology or early childhood development. These degrees will set you on a positive career path and increase your potential wages.