What Does A Preschool Teacher Do?
It may seem odd to describe a preschool teacher’s job as challenging but that’s the reality of the situation. Preschool teachers handle groups of children aged three to five, guiding them to develop their social skills, setting the foundation for reading and math and preparing them for the rigors of formal education. Try observing a three year old at play or when he throws a tantrum and think of a room of 20 to 30 preschoolers that all need to be attended to and you can imagine the superhuman effort it would take to manage, teach and provide them with all the nurturing and care they need and deserve. That’s exactly what preschool teachers do from Mondays to Fridays.
Preschool teachers are crucial in developing the social and emotional aspects of a child. Through various activities like games, stories and film showing, preschool teachers teach children how to deal with other people and inculcate in them such values as teamwork, patience, honesty and care and concern for others.
In addition to developing their social skills, preschool teachers teach them the foundation skills that would prepare them to read, write and count. They teach letters, sounds, numbers, shapes, colors and other concepts which are prerequisites to language, reading, writing and math lessons in kindergarten. They also introduce them to environmental phenomena, such as the four seasons, the weather and the stages of growth of a butterfly, just to name a few, to introduce them to the concepts of science.
Appreciation for the fine arts through music, dance and art are also part of a preschool curriculum. Preschool teachers teach children songs and dances to help them develop a love for music. They also encourage them to make drawings using a variety of media, mix colors and create simple works of art using different materials. Through these activities, preschool teachers allow children to discover their artistic talents which often sow the seeds for creativity and innovation that they will find useful throughout their lives.
Physical development is also an important aspect of preschool education. Preschool teachers lead students in exercises that aid in strengthening their bodies. In addition to having formal physical education classes, regular playtime is also a time which allows kids to run, climb and explore and as a result, improve their physical strength and coordination. The job of a preschool teacher during this time is not to teach kids how to play but to supervise and see to it that they are safe. If any child falls or suffers from an injury, preschool teachers see to it that they are given prompt attention by the school nurse.
An integral aspect of physical development that preschool teachers must teach their pupils is cleanliness. They teach them the proper way of washing their hands and that this should be done especially before they eat their snacks and lunch and after handling materials that get their hands dirty, such as watercolors or the soil. This may seem like a simple activity but making hand washing a habit helps in maintaining the health of all preschoolers as it prevents diseases and stops the spread of infection from one child to another.
That people have multiple intelligences is already an accepted fact and as such, preschool teachers have to employ various teaching methods to cater to the different needs of children. For example, they can provide group activities or one-on-one instruction, use storytelling or even allow them to manipulate computers if the school has them in order to facilitate understanding and absorption in each child. They also have to be ready to answer the genuinely curious questions that children can throw to them at any time.
Preschool teachers also need to address the unique needs of preschoolers who come from different ethnicities and religious beliefs. In many states, a preschool classroom is very diverse and as such, teachers need to be aware of the different cultures and beliefs of the students who are under their care. In these situations, multicultural programming is often an integral part in the day-to-day lessons of preschool teachers so that the educational needs all the children are met no matter where they came from or what their beliefs are.
Preschool teachers don’t only have to deal with their pupils. They also have to confer with their fellow teachers, report to the school principal and meet with parents to update them on the performance and behavior of their children in school.