Preschool Teacher: How to Become a Preschool Teacher
Some states now require children under the age of four to attend preschool. This has increased the need for teachers at the preschool level. This article provides a look at the process of becoming a preschool teacher, along with a career and salary outlook.
What Does a Preschool Teacher Do?
Preschool teachers help their students learn mainly through play and interactive activities, capitalizing on children's play to further language and vocabulary development. A preschool teacher might use storytelling and rhyming and acting games to improve social skills or introduce scientific and mathematical concepts. Most preschool settings employ a less structured approach, including small-group lessons, one-on-one instruction and learning through creative activities, such as music, art and dance. Lots of discussion and collaborative problem solving characterize the preschool classroom.
Educational Requirements for Preschool Teachers
To become a preschool teacher, most states and private schools expect potential teachers to have at least an associate's degree. In many cases, preschool teachers start out as assistant teachers. With this experience, they may advance to being teachers and eventually to lead teacher status. A preschool teacher needs to be proficient in helping children learn how to cooperate, providing fun learning activities suitable for preschoolers, keeping children safe, working as a team member with other teachers and interacting with parents.
Preschool teachers need to be eager participants in children's growth and development, as well as helping students understand how to use their natural curiosity to help make the appropriate developmental leaps in their skills and abilities. They are expected to create an atmosphere where risks can be taken and discoveries made while children remain safe. Most preschool teachers are required to earn certification in first aid procedures and infant and child CPR. They also need to undergo police background checks, as well as be fingerprinted.
Coursework in a preschool teacher degree program may include:
- Child development
- Classroom management and behavior
- Curriculum methods
- Instructional design
- Instructional resources and technology
- Parent-child relations
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), preschool teachers earned an average yearly wage of $30,750 in May 2012 (www.bls.gov). The lowest-paid 10% of workers made $18,090 or less, while the top 10% of professionals made $48,660 or more.
The BLS projected that job openings for preschool teachers were expected to grow much faster than most other careers (25%) from 2010-2020. This growth was driven by the fact that the number of children under five is rising and that more states are encouraging young children to attend preschool programs.
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