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Kindergarten Teacher: Requirements for Teaching Kindergarten

Kindergarten teachers educate young children during some of their most formative educational years. Individuals generally need specific training and a state license, though exact requirements can vary by state.

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Requirements for Kindergarten Teachers

Education Requirements

Kindergarten teachers generally need at least a bachelor's degree in order to qualify to teach in a public school. Early childhood education programs cover the various styles and techniques, such as play and interactive activities, used to teach young children. These programs provide students with an understanding of how to develop a child's ability to learn as well as methods for delivering education plans. Common courses in early childhood education programs include:

  • Child development
  • Technology in education
  • Educational psychology
  • Curriculum planning
  • Classroom management
  • Teaching methods

Many schools offer majors in early childhood education, though students can also choose to enroll in a supplementary certificate program that includes teacher training, especially if their bachelor's degree is in another field. Teacher training programs include teaching practicums under the guidance of professionals, allowing students to learn and interact with children in real-life teaching environments.

Licensing Requirements

In every state, public school teachers must obtain licensing through their respective state boards of education; however, private schools generally don't require licensing. Some states provide different levels of licensure based on the grade taught, while others allow teachers with a general educator license to teach any level. Teachers can also obtain licensure in a specific type of teaching, such as special education or reading. Common licensure requirements include a bachelor's degree, an approved teacher training program, a background check and supervised teaching practice. Some states also have technology training and minimum GPA requirements.

Many states use the nationalized standard PRAXIS tests to ensure aspiring teachers are qualified after earning a degree. The exams cover general teaching knowledge in reading, math and writing, as well as subject-specific topics at the K-6 level (www.ets.org). Most employers require teachers to participate in professional development training to keep skills and knowledge up-to-date, and states require continuing education to maintain licensure.

Certification Options

Licensed teachers who want to demonstrate proficiency beyond the requirements for licensure can opt to earn certification. Voluntary certification that's recognized by every state is available through the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. The organization offers certification for kindergarten teachers in several disciplines, such as library media, art, reading and school counseling. To earn a credential, teachers must have at least a bachelor's degree and three years of classroom experience in a state-approved school.

Skills Required

Kindergarten teachers need patience and understanding in their daily jobs. Additionally, they'll need to understand how to select developmentally appropriate materials and equipment and work cooperatively with parents to develop education plans. They must know how to use assessment tools, enforce rules and communicate effectively with young children. Kindergarten teachers might also need to know how to use and incorporate technology into the classroom.

Salary and Career Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimated an 18% job growth for kindergarten teachers in the years 2010-2020. In May 2012, kindergarten teachers earned $50,120 as a median annual wage.

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