Preschool teachers nurture, care for and educate children under the age of five. They prepare a child for kindergarten by teaching them the appropriate skills such as language, number, motor and social skills. Preschool teachers use a variety of fun age-appropriate activities and exercises to encourage child development, all while monitoring progress and reporting to parents.
Duties and responsibilities
- Teach basic number and alphabet skills
- Help develop language, motor and social skills
- Play with and instruct children
- Plan lessons and activities
- Work with one child or groups of children
- Build and implement a curriculum for child development
- Encourage exercises and activities for child development
- Be responsible for the health and safety of the children in your care
- Maintain children’s physical activity and rest schedules
- Observe children’s behaviour and emotional and developmental issues
- Report children’s progress and any issues to parents
Skills and knowledge
AVERAGE WORKING HOURS
As a preschool teacher, you could work in public or private schools, creches, nurseries, childcare centres or playgroups. Your time will be spent in a classroom and playground around various equipment like sand pits and climbing frames.
Work as a preschool teacher is rewarding when you notice children are developing new skills. It can also be demanding as you try to manage 10–20 infants below the age of 5. Classrooms can get noisy and sometimes messy, especially around toys and arts and crafts.
Annual salary estimates are based on percentile wage data collected through the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey of US workers.
Entry requirements for a preschool teacher vary depending on location and state regulations.
Although an associate’s degree is sometimes accepted by Head Start programmes, a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education (ECE) or a similar field is preferred. If you have a degree in a related field, you must also demonstrate experience in teaching preschool children.
An ECE bachelor’s degree is the minimum requirement if you’re looking to work in a public school. Certain states also require that preschool teachers obtain the Child Development Associate (CDA) certification from the Council for Professional Recognition.
Experienced and qualified preschool teachers can progress to a lead teacher position or become the director of a preschool or childcare centre.
If you have a bachelor’s degree in ECE, you could even move into teaching kindergarten students until Grade 3.