Preschool Teacher Education and Careers
As humans develop, our capacity for learning increases. When we reach preschool, we are ready to take on even more information and take steps into the wider world. As a preschool teacher, it is your job to facilitate that growth and development with creative activities, a compassionate demeanor and the knowledge to guide a group of students towards bigger and better things.
To be a preschool teacher, you will first need to ascertain if the career path is really for you. Then, assess the education and certifications you need and determine which specific academic path is best for you.
Characteristics of a Preschool Teacher
Choosing a career path is not a light decision. There are many factors that must be considered to determine if you truly have aptitude for the field. When it comes to becoming a teacher, this decision is perhaps even more important. After all, you will be working with highly impressionable children who have a lot of different needs, often all at the same time.
To succeed as a preschool teacher, you will need to possess a great deal of patience, flexibility and creativity. You will also need to be calm in emotionally charged situations and then be able to communicate effectively with parents at the end of the day.
Patience is often listed first when people discuss teachers. Your students are learning everything for the first time. They are developing social skills including language. They may scream when raising their hand is more effective, they may yank a toy from a friend when asking for it is more polite. As a teacher, you may have to ask the same students repeatedly to modify their behavior and they still might not understand. When you keep your cool and have the presence of mind to work with the child, you can find a teaching moment and perhaps make a significant difference for her, if only for that day.
Flexibility is another trait that will serve you well in a preschool classroom. The students won’t always respond as you expect when you present them with an activity. When you can shift gears quickly and smoothly, you will keep the entire class on track for a fun, productive day. This may be a trait that you need to develop over time, but it is something to start working on even before you step into a preschool classroom.
Every preschool teacher needs to be creative. When you can discover new and fun ways to interact with students, your whole classroom will come to life. Even preschoolers can tackle large group projects if their imaginations are excited and engaged. Try to stimulate your own creativity by cultivating skills in visual arts, music and even writing. Students love to create stories complete with audio and visual components and you can help their visions come to life with skills of your own.
Preschool Teacher Education
Many preschool teachers have a high school diploma and some sort of state-approved certification to work in a preschool environment. There are many online and traditional programs that can help you attain a certificate. Schools that offer full degree programs in early childhood/elementary education often will have a certificate in early childhood education that you can use.
If you desire more than that, you might work towards an associate’s degree. This route gives you a solid educational foundation in a shorter amount of time. You can build on it later if you decide to finish a four-year bachelor’s degree.
The top level for most teachers is the bachelor’s degree. With a four-year degree you can apply your credentials towards a state-issued teacher’s license or even apply for a master’s level degree. A bachelor’s degree will also be helpful in moving up as a preschool teacher. You may find that achieving an administrative position is easier with a bachelor’s degree.
All of these options can be attained through an online institution. When you opt for online courses, you will find that it’s easier to continue working in a classroom while you learn to apply the academic knowledge.
Salary and Job Growth for Preschool Teachers
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics lists preschool teacher salaries at the median annual rate of $28,790. They also predict a 10 percent job growth rate over the coming decade, which aligns preschool teacher careers with all other professions growth rate for the same time frame.
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