Before we explain how to become a preschool teacher, it’s important for teaching candidates to understand what the role of a preschool teacher is. A preschool teacher, sometimes called a prekindergarten or pre-K teacher, helps young children prepare for kindergarten. This can be done through a variety of interactive games and play. A preschool teacher should work on helping to develop socialization and problem-solving skills through discussion and activities in the classroom. A successful preschool teacher should be personally interested in helping young kids and should have a passion for watching them learn and achieve.
Preschool Teacher Job Description
A typical preschool teacher job description explains a preschool teacher as being responsible for teaching younger children learning skills, ensuring their safety during school hours, and keeping order within the classroom. These are typically toddlers, and in preschool, they are being prepped for kindergarten. As a preschool teacher, you will be an active participant in helping a child develop many skills and abilities. You should be creating a safe space for these children to learn and express themselves verbally, mentally, and physically.
Below are the main responsibilities of a preschool teacher:
- Teach basic skills such as social skills, personal hygiene, number & letter recognition, shapes, and colors
- Help children explore and try things out by using imaginative play and learning activities
- Establish rules and procedures that enforce good behavior and order in the classroom
- Read books and stories to the class
- Promote mental, social, and physical development by organizing and leading activities such as arts and crafts, field trips, games, and music
How to Become a Preschool Teacher
If you are interested in how to become a preschool teacher, know that the requirements can vary based on the state and the school where you want to teach. However, below are some of the common steps that must be taken in order to become a preschool teacher:
- Earn an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in early childhood education – The basic requirement for becoming a preschool teacher will either be an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree. Depending on the degree required, it will take two to four years to complete this process.
- Complete a student teaching internship in a preschool classroom – The best way to learn is by doing! You will need to have experience in the classroom through a teaching internship at a preschool. This will be a great way to see how comfortable you are teaching preschoolers.
- If required, take the state’s tests for preschool teacher certification and apply for a teaching certificate – In order to test the capability of teaching candidates, some states may require a test for preschool teacher certification.
- Begin applying to open preschool teacher positions – Before you can start teaching, you must apply for a preschool teacher position. Once you find a school that wants to select you and you feel like a good fit, it’s time to start teaching!
While a four-year degree is not required for all preschool teachers, having a bachelor’s degree can have many benefits. Oftentimes those with a bachelor’s degree will be able to ask for a higher salary and could have more opportunities to advance at the school.
Preschool Teacher Skills
There are a variety of preschool teacher skills that an individual should have before stepping into the classroom. Below is a list of skills you should consider when choosing this profession:
- Classroom Management – Being able to have control of the classroom and
- Professionalism – The ability to work with others in a civil and respectful manner.
- Interpersonal Skills – Being able to interact and help communicate with students and teachers in both verbal and nonverbal ways.
- Parent Communication – Being open with parents when necessary about student behavior and performance.
- Communication – The ability to exchange information with individuals, in this case, children, in a way that they can digest.
- Instructional Strategies – Having a variety of ways to give students instruction so they are set up for success.
- Creativity – Using different methods of learning for children so they can easily grasp material.
- Assessment – Being able to test the ability of students and if they are improving or learning in the classroom.
- Behavioral Intervention – Stepping in when necessary if a child is acting out in class.
- Curriculum Planning – Aligning course materials and lesson plans to the overall goals set by the school and district.
- Child Development – Understanding the process of development and how your actions can impact the development of the students in your classroom.
Salary Expectations & Job Outlook
When looking at how to become a preschool teacher, a teaching candidate should also take into consideration salary and job outlook. The average preschool teacher salary in the United States is $36,500, typically falling between $33,010 and $41,550. In addition to this, there is job security due to the national teacher shortage. More specifically, the employment of preschool teachers is projected to grow 15 percent from 2021 to 2031. Furthermore, there are about 63,100 openings for preschool teachers projected each year.
How Long Does It Take to Become a Preschool Teacher?
How long it takes to become a preschool teacher depends on the education that an individual is aiming to achieve. In some states, it may take two years or less to become a preschool teacher, as they may only require an associate’s or high school diploma along with credentials. However, if a bachelor’s degree is being pursued, it can take around four years. Discover your certification options and start building your preschool teaching career today.