Career Development

What Does a Preschool Teacher Do?

Find out what a preschool teacher does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as a preschool teacher.

Preschool teachers are responsible for the care and education of young children. They spend their days playing with, teaching, and caring for these kids—helping them to develop important social, emotional, and cognitive skills in a safe and nurturing environment.

Preschool teachers may work with a wide range of students, from those who are just starting to learn how to interact with others to those who are already quite advanced. Regardless of the age or development level of the children they teach, preschool teachers must be able to effectively engage with all of them.

Preschool Teacher Job Duties

Preschool teachers typically have a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Providing academic support such as teaching letters, numbers, and colors to young children
  • Providing activities such as arts and crafts, science experiments, games, and nature walks to keep children engaged in their learning
  • Observing and interacting with children to assess their development and learning needs
  • Helping children develop social skills and self-esteem by providing positive reinforcement, encouraging cooperation, and offering constructive feedback
  • Helping children with homework, such as reading to them or showing them how to write their names
  • Preparing materials for classroom activities such as crafts, books, puzzles, toys, and snacks
  • Communicating with parents regularly to discuss their child’s progress and to respond to questions or concerns
  • Assisting in planning and preparing for field trips to museums or other educational facilities
  • Providing children with basic medical care, such as administering medication or calling a parent if a child is injured or ill

Preschool Teacher Salary & Outlook

Preschool teachers’ salaries vary depending on their level of education, years of experience, and the type of preschool they work in. They may also earn additional compensation in the form of bonuses.

  • Median Annual Salary: $31,500 ($15.14/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $59,500 ($28.61/hour)

The employment of preschool teachers is expected to grow at an average rate over the next decade.

The demand for preschool education is expected to increase as more parents recognize the benefits of early childhood education. In addition, the demand for preschool teachers will likely be driven by the need to provide childcare so that parents can work or attend school.

Related: In-Depth Preschool Teacher Salary Guide

Preschool Teacher Job Requirements

A preschool teacher typically needs to have the following qualifications:

Education: Preschool teachers are typically required to have at least a high school diploma or GED. Some schools prefer to hire candidates who have a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education or a related field.

Many preschool teachers choose to earn a master’s degree in early childhood education or a related field. Earning a master’s degree can help teachers qualify for higher-level positions or increase their earning potential.

Training & Experience: Most preschool teachers receive on-the-job training from their supervisors or other teachers. This training helps them learn the specific curriculum and teaching methods for their classroom. They may also learn how to use the school’s computer systems and other technology.

Certifications & Licenses: Like many other jobs, certification is optional for preschool teachers but highly desirable to schools and parents.

Preschool Teacher Skills

Preschool teachers need the following skills in order to be successful:

Communication skills: Communication skills are necessary for preschool teachers, as they are required to communicate with students, parents and colleagues. This includes communicating effectively, which means using the right tone and message for the situation. For example, if a student is having a difficult time, a preschool teacher should be able to communicate with them in a way that is comforting and helpful.

Creativity and imagination: Creativity and imagination are important skills for preschool teachers to have. They can use these skills to plan engaging lessons and activities for their students. For example, a preschool teacher might use their creativity to create a fun learning environment for their students. They might do this by decorating their classroom with fun themes or props to make learning fun for their students.

Patience: Patience is another skill that preschool teachers need to have. Children can be unpredictable and may not always listen to directions. It’s important for preschool teachers to be able to remain calm and patient when working with their students.

Organization: Organization is another skill that preschool teachers use on a daily basis. This is because they often have many tasks to complete in a short period of time. Being able to prioritize and plan your day accordingly can help you be more efficient and complete all your tasks.

Leadership: Leadership is another skill that preschool teachers can use to positively influence their students. This is because they often have to take on a role of authority in their classroom. For example, they may be responsible for enforcing rules, maintaining order and directing their students’ learning activities.

Preschool Teacher Work Environment

Preschool teachers typically work in public or private preschools, childcare centers, or Head Start programs. They may also work in elementary schools, daycare centers, or family childcare homes. They typically work full time, although some teachers may work part time. Many teachers work the traditional ten-month school year and have summers off, although some teachers work year-round in programs that operate on a different schedule. Some teachers also work in before- and after-school programs, and some may teach adult education classes. Preschool teachers typically work with a co-teacher in a classroom of 20 to 25 children.

Preschool Teacher Trends

Here are three trends influencing how preschool teachers work. Preschool teachers will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

More Attention to Social and Emotional Development

As early childhood education becomes more popular, the focus is shifting towards social and emotional development. This means that preschool teachers will need to be able to provide a safe and nurturing environment where children can learn how to interact with others in a positive way.

In addition, preschool teachers will need to be able to identify signs of distress in children and know how to help them cope with difficult emotions. They will also need to be able to create a classroom environment that promotes learning through play.

More Focus on STEM Education

The trend of increasing focus on STEM education is having a major impact on the preschool teacher profession. As schools place greater emphasis on science, technology, engineering, and math, preschool teachers will need to be prepared to teach these subjects in an engaging and effective way.

This requires not only a deep understanding of the subject matter, but also the ability to make it fun and interesting for young students. By preparing now, preschool teachers can ensure that they are ready to meet the challenges of this changing landscape.

Greater Diversity Among Teachers

The diversity of the teaching workforce is increasing as more and more people from diverse backgrounds enter the profession. This is leading to a wider range of perspectives and ideas being shared in classrooms across the country.

Preschool teachers can capitalize on this trend by becoming familiar with different cultures and traditions. This will allow them to better understand and connect with the families they serve. In addition, they can share their own experiences with students in order to help them feel more comfortable in school.

How to Become a Preschool Teacher

A career as a preschool teacher can be both rewarding and fulfilling. It’s important to consider all the factors that will influence your decision, including the type of school you want to work for, the age range of children you want to teach, and your personal teaching style.

You should also think about what you want to get out of the job. Do you want to make a difference in the lives of young children? Do you want to help them develop their skills and learn new things? Do you want to be part of a team that works together to provide quality education? If so, then becoming a preschool teacher may be the right choice for you.

Related: How to Write a Preschool Teacher Resume

Advancement Prospects

Many preschool teachers advance to teaching positions in elementary schools. Some become administrators, such as principals or child care center directors. Some teachers use their experience in the classroom to become curriculum specialists or educational consultants. Many preschool teachers also take on additional responsibilities, such as coaching or serving as a mentor to new teachers.

With additional training, preschool teachers can become certified to teach kindergarten or higher grades. Some teachers get a master’s degree in early childhood education or a related field, such as child development. With a master’s degree, teachers can become educational administrators, such as principals, program directors, or curriculum specialists.

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