Schools and Education
|Recommended Degree Level||Associate|
|Number of Jobs, 2012||340,350|
|Annual Job Growth Rate||4.5%|
|Job Openings per Year (est.)||23,240|
- A high school diploma is required for most early childhood education positions.
- In preschools and early childhood education facilities, teachers may be required to obtain an associate or bachelor degree in the field of education.
- Some schools may require extensive coursework in early childhood education in order to obtain full teaching positions.
- Programs offered by public school systems typically require a four-year degree in education or a related field of study.
A brief introduction to preschool teaching careers. Produced for the US Dept. of Labor.
A Day in the Life
As a preschool teacher, you will typically work in a classroom with kids between the ages of 3 and 6 years before they are ready to move on to kindergarten and elementary school. These youngest students require added care and supervision in order to adjust to a learning environment and the company of other children. As a result, you will likely spend as much time offering comfort and moral support to your students as in the actual teaching process.
Classroom activities will include reading readiness, learning to count, coloring and drawing and music appreciation.
Your day will be filled with these kinds of responsibilities:
- Comforting an upset or overwrought child
- Supervising mealtimes and managing menus for proper nutrition
- Outlining lesson plans for reading, pre-mathematics and other subject areas
- Engaging in playtime activities with children to help expand their imaginations
- Organizing outdoor games and contests to help children achieve better motor control
- Encouraging children to relax at naptime by reading a favorite story out loud
- Facilitating discussions and encouraging participation to help preschoolers develop social and language skills
- Identifying and monitoring any areas of delayed development or concern
- Offering additional opportunities for learning through field trips and group excursions outside the facility
- Discussing the child's activities and progress with parents and other responsible parties
Your preschool may follow a highly structured learning plan with scheduled times for various activities. In other cases, you may have the opportunity to present your students with a number of choices and allow them to decide on their activities. Your primary responsibility in both situations is to ensure the emotional and physical well-being of the kids under your care and to give them the right start in their academic adventures.
Certifications and Licensing
In order to teach in some states, preschool teachers must meet certain educational requirements and must obtain certification from an accepted authority in the field. The National Early Childhood Program Accreditation organization offers a Child Care Professional certification for experienced and qualified preschool teachers. Another route to certification is through the Council for Professional Recognition, which offers a Child Development Associate certificate that may open doors of opportunity for some preschool teachers.
Full-time versus part-time: Preschool teachers may work part-time or full-time. In most cases, the work schedule is an extended version of the school day and is designed to provide the most convenient hours for working parents. Some preschool programs may be morning or afternoon only.
Preschools are required to maintain a certain proportion of teachers to students in order to comply with state laws. As a result, preschool teachers may be required to work flexible hours in order to fill in for others on staff during illnesses, vacations or other absences from the workplace.
These sites offer a wide range of informational topics and resources for those considering a career in the field of early childhood education.
- U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Handbook --This authoritative website offers in-depth information on the job prospects, typical salaries and working conditions preschool teachers can expect in the current employment climate. It also outlines the educational requirements and typical career paths for those in the preschool teaching field.
- National Association for the Education of Young Children -- One of the oldest and most respected organizations in the field of early childhood education, the website of the National Association for the Education of Young Children provides up-to-date information on industry news, new developments in education, recent and upcoming publications and continuing education opportunities for preschool teachers.
- National Head Start Association -- Founded in 1973, the National Head Start Association is more commonly known as Head Start and focuses on helping parents and teachers work together to provide young children with the best possible start in their educational careers. Resources for preschool teachers include job listings, professional development opportunities and access to a variety of research findings and other informational materials.
- Association for Childhood Education International -- This website offers a true global perspective on the issues facing preschool teachers in the U.S. and around the world. It offers advice and guidance on how to engage even the youngest children in the educational process and suggests topics for discussion appropriate for the age level of the children involved.
- Association Montessori Internationale -- Montessori preschools comprise a large percentage of the early childhood education centers in the U.S. and approach the task of educating these young minds by providing the tools and information appropriate for the age group. This website offers a great deal of insight into the Montessori approach and its focus on play and self-determination in the preschool environment.
- National Education Association -- The National Education Association offers information on trends, issues and current events that may affect the education field as a whole. While not confined strictly to topics of interest to preschool teachers, the website is a valuable resource for educators and provides ideas and strategies to manage the classroom environment and provide the most beneficial learning experiences for children.