Early childhood education is a vital part of everyone’s growth and development. When students receive a robust education in their early years, they’re set up to succeed later.
As an early education teacher, you’ll be tasked with teaching young children new skills, helping them understand the world around them and assisting them as they develop routines. In the classroom, you’ll have a variety of duties from teaching kids about colors, shapes and letters to creating a curriculum. Here’s a look at some of the responsibilities of an early childhood education teacher:
Create and enforce rules for children
Organize activities related to games, music, arts, storytelling
Teach social skills
Read books to children in groups
Early childhood education teachers also work closely with parents and specialists.
The role of an early childhood education teacher is rewarding, but caring for children isn’t without challenges. The most successful teachers tend to be good problem-solvers who think creatively. You’ll also need strong communication skills, compassion and patience.
Early Childhood Education Job Outlook and Salary
Whether you work in a private or public school system, you can expect to see job growth in the coming years. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of preschool teachers is predicted to increase by 7 percent through 2024. This growth is mainly due to the increased number of preschool-aged children.
Employment of preschool teachers is predicted to increase by 2024.
Meanwhile, the median annual salary for preschool teachers is $28,570, however this depends on several factors such as geographic location and experience. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $19,130 in 2015 while the highest 10 percent earned more than $51,990.
Where Can You Work?
In 2014, there were about 441,000 preschool teachers in the U.S.
They work in a handful of settings including:
Child day care
Elementary and secondary schools
Individual and family services
Some preschool teachers work in religious or charitable organizations that have a preschool program or Head Start program.
Early Education Certification
Once you’ve earned your early childhood education degree, you may be required to obtain professional certification. Some states require teachers to earn credentials from either the Council for Professional Recognition or the Certified Childcare Professional certification from the National Early Childhood Program Accreditation.
If you work in a public school as preschool teacher, you’ll need to be licensed in your state. Requirements vary but typically you’ll need at least a bachelor’s degree.
As you embark on your teaching career, there’s a lot of information to keep track of. And as a preschool educator, you will need to have a significant cache of resources that will enable you to become a highly-effective teacher and/or administrator. This resource page will introduce you to professional associations, academic resources as well as publications and social media outlets.
As a preschool educator, you will need to have a significant cache of resources that will enable you to become a highly-effective teacher and/or administrator. This resource page will introduce you to professional associations, academic resources as well as publications and social media outlets.
National Association for the Education of Young Children
NAEYC is the preeminent organization for early childhood education. They keep members informed with a journal, books, and lots of digital media. They also host an annual conference.
Early Childhood Education Association of Colorado
ECEA is a Colorado non-profit whose mission is to support and guide preschools, pre-k programs and other child care centers. ECEA is also involved in legislation that serves the interests of child care centers.
Southern Early Childhood Association
Child care centers, teachers and administrators throughout the Southeastern United States comprise the over 20,000 members of SECA. The association distributes several newsletters, has a jobs listing board and hosts a conference.
Association for Childhood Education International
ACEI is an international organization that seeks to increase the quality of early childhood education worldwide. Its advocacy efforts and membership events help promote their message that every child has a right to education.
Texas Association for the Education of Young Children
The Texas chapter of NAEYC seeks to promote professional excellence in early childhood education. Their best practices are drawn from scientific method and sound evidence.
Association for Early Learning Leaders
ELL is an accrediting body for child care centers. Their standards ensure that the very youngest receive the very best start on life. They also encourage professional development and host conferences.
Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America
Waldorf schools use a holistic educational model in which students work with the same teachers for multiple years. Find information for educators and parents and families on their site.
National Education Association
The National Education Association advocates for early childhood education through legislation, research and free pre-k and kindergarten programs nationwide. Their website includes lesson plans, classroom management assistance and pedagogical strategies.
Wisconsin Early Childhood Association
WECA helps promote professional development, advocates for policies that support children and their education, facilitates communication amongst professionals and conducts research for the purposes of developing strategies for improvement in the field.
The Professional Association for Childhood Education
PACE is a California association for early childhood education professionals. In particular, they seek to enhance management practices, curriculum and teaching practices in more than 1,000 California child care centers.
Delaware Valley Association for the Education of Young Children
With 2,000 members, DVAEYC advocates for the best quality education for children up to age eight. They organize an annual conference and lobby legislators on behalf of early childhood educators and their students.
To learn how to apply for federal financial aid, start here. Find information about loans, grants, scholarships and application deadlines. Students can also begin their FAFSA form on the site.
Underwood-Smith Teacher Scholarships
Prospective West Virginia early education teachers are encouraged to apply. Awards of no more than $5,000 per academic year are granted to students demonstrating strong academic qualifications.
Achievement-based scholarships are awarded each year by the Coca-Cola Foundations. The organization looks for students who are service-oriented and passionate about making their community a better place.
Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grant
If you aim to teach in a high-need area, the TEACH grant will help facilitate your education. Learn more about this federally-funded grant on their site.
This grant is aimed at students who wish to teach STEM subjects to K-12 students. You must be actively pursuing a teaching credential or a graduate degree to be awarded up to $5,000.
Alpha Kappa Alpha
The sorority’s Educational Advancement Foundation awards several scholarships to college students. Learn more about the various types of funding you can apply for through Alpha Kappa Alpha.
Phi Delta Kappa International Education Foundation
PDK’s Educational Foundation offers more than 30 scholarships to aspiring teachers who have a connection to the organization. Simply fill out one application form and you’ll be considered for each opportunity.
This scholarship from Phi Delta Kappa is specific to educators, is awarded to over 30 students per year and awards up to $2,000 for qualifying students.
National Board for Professional Teaching Standards
Check to see if there is a scholarship available through the National Board. The organization notes it’s able to periodically offer awards to students but there are no guarantees.
American Montessori Society
If you desire to teach in a Montessori school you may be able to receive a scholarship through the AMS. In 2015, the society awarded 22 students with funds to assist with their tuition costs.
Each year, the NAACP awards scholarships to “outstanding” individuals. To apply, you’ll need to submit letters of recommendation and an essay, among other documentation. Find complete information on their site.
Ronald McDonald House Charities U.S. Scholarships
RMHC is more than a help to families of ailing young ones, it assists students with their education. Their application period opens in the autumn, so make sure you are prepared.
Supplement your tuition payment with a Pell Grant. These government grants are usually only awarded to students pursuing an undergraduate degree. Find eligibility requirements and more on the Pell Grant site.
The US DOL lists more than 7,700 scholarships on its website. Take the time to find one that suits your profile.
National Association for the Education of Young Children
From peer-reviewed journals to magazines for educators, NAEYC publishes a plethora of useful information for teachers. Review this page for a list of books and periodicals.
This is an invaluable Internet resource for teachers. The site includes worksheets, activities and lesson plans, among other items.
Reggio Emilia Approach
This little-known Italian approach to early-childhood education is student-led and an interesting way to empower preschoolers.
Early Childhood Research Quarterly
Stay current on the latest research into early childhood education. The journal covers diverse issues, including policy, developmental psychology and professional development.
Harvard Family Research Project
Visit this link to find a wide range of research reports from the Harvard Family Research Project. Search by areas of practice such as program environment.
U.S. Department of Education
Expand your knowledge base in the field of early childhood education and spark discussions with fellow professionals with these publications and reports.
Developing Early Literacy: Report of the National Early Literacy Panel
This review of literacy levels and how to address literacy among your students has practical implications for you and your school.
Early Beginnings: Early Literacy Knowledge and Instruction
The National Institute for Literacy’s 20 page booklet will help you identify how to best encourage literacy.
Teaching Our Youngest: Guide for Preschool Teachers, Child Care and Family Providers
The Head Start Task Force’s report covers how to create the optimal learning environment for children.
Helping Your Preschool Child
This U.S. Department of Education document includes activities that help facilitate early childhood learning. This information is useful for early childhood professionals and parents alike.
If You Think There’s a Problem—Helping Your Child Become a Reader
Literacy is even more vital in this information age. This ed.gov guide will help parents encourage literacy and set the foundation for a lifetime of reading and learning.
Learning to Talk and Listen
The National Institute for Literacy offers guidance for anyone who communicates with small children. Even seasoned professionals can learn from this document, refreshing old knowledge and approaches.
Make Time to Talk
Print this simple list of communication tips for your classroom.
Early Childhood Assessment: Why, What, and How
This book is aimed at helping underprivileged students. The page includes many other books related to early childhood education. Free pdfs are available for review or printing.
Mathematics Learning in Early Childhood: Paths Toward Excellence and Equity
It’s never too early to introduce young ones to mathematical concepts. Numbers and values are covered in this book which is available as a free PDF that you can print at home.
Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children
Discover what factors put children at risk for reading difficulties. This book is available for purchase through the web page, but you can also download a PDF version for free.
Starting Out Right: A Guide to Promoting Children’s Reading Success
This affordable paperback helps professionals and parents create environments that will set children up for the most success in life. The book addresses development from infancy onward.
Revisiting and Updating the Multicultural Principles for Head Start Programs Serving Children Ages Birth to Five
Complex issues of culture, learning and development are discussed in this 83-page PDF that you can share with colleagues or use in your own research.
A repository of fantastic resources that will enhance your professional practice. These webinars are available free to everyone.
Southern Early Childhood Association
Learn more about the public policy issues surrounding early childhood education. The more you learn in this area, the better you can advocate for children and their families.
National Geographic Kids
National Geographic has been the leader in informing adults about activities all over the globe. Now, they have a magazine aimed at small children. The website includes videos and more resources that will fascinate young minds.
Highlights High Five
Designed for children ages two through six, the magazine provides endless entertainment, education and inspiration for teachers and children. Choose from a variety of games, puzzles, poems and stories.
Turtle Magazine for Preschool Kids
Turtle is a bi-monthly publication for children ages three to five and their parents. You might want to subscribe for your classroom, or recommend that your children’s parents subscribe.
Ladybug is a literary magazine for the preschool set. Each issue is full of delightful, colorful stories that will draw your children or students into the world of narrative prose.
Create an appreciation for reading early. Babybug Magazine is written especially for infants and toddlers. Children will be entertained by nursery rhymes, short stories and colorful illustrations.
Mailbox Preschool Edition
Aimed at teachers, this site is chock-full of ideas, lesson plans and more. The website offers lessons and activities that you can purchase individually.
Deborah Stewart’s blog covers a wide range of learning-focused activities for preschoolers. She holds a master’s degree in education, runs her own preschool and authored a book.
Innovative activities dominate this early childhood education blog from a preschool teacher in Georgia. Includes printable activities that will stimulate new learning and healthy development in your students.
First Grade Parade
This blog is full of free resources as well as activities that you can purchase and use in your classroom. Products cover all grade levels, from pre-k through high school students.
Wise Owl Factory
This blog is full of all sorts of tips and activities for pre-k teachers. You might find classroom activities as well as tips for professional development. There is no end to the resources available through Wise Owl.
What the Teacher Wants
This blog is aimed specifically at teachers. Issues related to the profession are covered, often in great detail. Though aimed at elementary teachers, any educator is bound to find valuable information on this blog.
Tulip Tree Preschool
Follow the activities of this Portland, Oregon preschool. Tulip Tree uses the Reggio Emilia methodology to create a student-focused classroom.
Blogger Fran Kramer has been involved with curriculum development, including Common Core. Her specialty is kindergarten, but preschool teachers are bound to find tips for their teaching practice in Kramer’s writings.
Mrs. Larremore, the author of this blog, focuses on phonics and provides tips and ideas for early childhood teachers. If you implement her ideas in your literacy lessons, your students will surely thrive.
Mrs. Jump’s Class
Mrs. Jump fills her blog with lots of great ideas and activities for little ones. Browse this colorful and inspiring site for teaching ideas.
Math and literacy are the focuses at the Miss Kindergarten blog. The blog is full of activities for free and for sale.
Follow the fun and learning at New Creation Preschool. This blog/website provides a great template for teachers and budding learning center owners.
This site has so many activities available that you’ll have no problem scheduling your days for a long time to come. Most lessons and activities are for sale, but there are also freebies available.
Let the Children Play
Jenny, the site’s blogger, lives in the Australian “bush” and has made play part of her early childhood teaching. She contends that children have less unstructured play time than ever before and strives to change this.
Fun in First
Though aimed at first-grade education, pre-k and kindergarten teachers might take note and preview what their students will need to master in later years. If you have gifted students, it might be worthwhile to stimulate them with advanced lessons and activities.
Everything you ever wanted to know about Montessori is covered on this site. Find activities, videos lessons and tutorials on this blog which is written by Aubrey, an M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction.
This site is a one-stop for professional development and classroom activities. Janice, the site’s author, has over nine years of experience. Bookmark this and check back regularly!
The Preschool Toolbox
Browse the Preschool Toolbox for resources to purchase, or to find inspiration for activities of your own.
This site is full of activities and resources that have been carefully curated to help enhance your preschool classroom. The blog’s owner doesn’t sell the items directly, but may receive compensation from other sites if you purchase items. Nonetheless, she’s done the shopping for you.
Teaching 2 and 3 Year Olds
Sheryl Cooper’s blog is chock-full of tips and activities for teaching ages two and three. There are also resources for teachers.