Preschool Teacher's Assistant: Job Description and Requirements
Preschool teacher assistants help the lead teacher in managing a classroom of children who are five years or younger. They instruct and supervise them in social and developmental activities, help feed and change them, and generally provide one-on-one attention when needed.
It is usually the responsibility of the preschool teacher's assistant to plan activities for children, such as storytelling or art projects. He or she must help organize the classroom and plan intellectual activities for children, per the lead teacher's requests.
The duties of a preschool teacher's assistant includes interacting with children, preparing snacks, teaching children about numbers, colors and shapes, helping them get dressed and changing their diapers when needed. They also evaluate students' social development and physical well-being. Preschool teacher's assistants should be prepared to take on the role of lead teacher when needed.
Some assistants work specifically with children who have developmental disabilities. They help them with exercises and games designed to facilitate their development. Their work is supervised by qualified therapists or teachers.
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2012, teacher assistants, including those working in preschools, earned an annual median salary of $23,640. In 2010, the BLS predicted that employment for teacher assistants would expand by 15% through 2020. Preschools and childcare programs' enrollments were expected to grow during that time, and additional teacher assistants would be needed, the BLS noted.
Those who work with preschoolers may have diverse educational backgrounds. Sometimes, preschool teacher's assistants need only on-the-job training. There are better job opportunities available, however, for individuals who pursue degrees in early childhood education or child development. Teacher's assistants who work in areas with large numbers of low-income families must have at least two years of college or pass state requirements to work in a preschool.
Teacher's assistants who want to expand their qualifications may enroll in certificate programs that cover areas such as child growth and development, health and safety, creative activities, music for children and teaching children with special needs. Field experience in a preschool setting may be required for completion of certain certificate programs.
Another option for preschool assistants is to pursue a bachelor's degree in child development and become a licensed teacher. Some school districts offer tuition reimbursement and time off from work for employees to pursue educational goals. Degree programs in child development may include classes such as history of education, preschool education and teaching, youth development and special education.
Preschool teacher's assistants need a driver's license and must possess good communication skills and patience. A background check will be conducted on applicants. On-the-job training is usually necessary for all new employees to help familiarize them with the rules of the school.
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