How To Become A Preschool Teacher
A preschool teacher prepares children from three to five years old for kindergarten. You will teach them foundation concepts in reading, writing, science and math so they would be ready for kindergarten and elementary school.
Through the use of play and other strategies, you help young minds blossom and learn about the world around them. You teach them how to count through the use of counters, for example, and use things found in nature such as leaves, stems, soil, sky and others to teach them about colors. You help develop their social skills by conducting activities that will make them build friendships and encourage cooperation with others. Because children in preschool often come from various religious, racial and ethnic backgrounds, they include lessons that instill in children the importance of respecting different peoples and cultures.
You will be making and implementing a curriculum that would improve a child’s overall development. This includes his language, social, motor and math skills, among others. You will be giving them worksheets and correcting their work for errors. You will be in charge of coming up with a daily plan of work that will allow children to study, rest and play. In organizing activities, you endeavor to let the children develop their talents and explore their fields of interests.
A very crucial part of your work is observing your children closely as they come to school each day and determining if they have developmental or health issues. Problems like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), hearing difficulties or nearsightedness or farsightedness are first noticed by very observant preschool teachers. If you suspect that the child has problems, it is also your responsibility to bring this immediately to the attention of the parents so that they can bring the child to a health professional for evaluation. Even if a child is developing normally, it is still part of your responsibility to keep parents apprised of how their child is doing in school. This means that you should have complete records of the children under your care.
If you want to succeed in this profession, you need to be creative. You must find ways to engage your students so they will participate and understand the lesson. You also need to be patient especially when teaching kids concepts that are still new to them that they can hardly understand. You need to be able to communicate well not only with pupils but with their parents and your fellow teachers as well.
Why Become A Preschool Teacher
One reason to become a preschool teacher is that you truly enjoy working with little children. You find fulfillment in teaching them basic concepts and knowing that it is through your efforts that they are able to start learning how to read, write and count. It is very satisfying to know that you were part in helping children who will grow up to become adults someday develop and discover their true potential.
Preschool teachers don’t only teach the foundation topics in reading, writing and math to children aged three to five years old. They serve as their role models and form a very important part of the lives of these young and impressionable minds. For many teachers, the salary is not the primary lure that drew them into the profession but their sheer passion for teaching and genuine love for young children.
Preschool Teacher Work Environment
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 54 percent of preschool teachers worked for the child day care services industry while 21 percent were employed by charitable or religious organizations that have Head Start programs or preschool programs. Around 16 percent worked for elementary and secondary schools while three percent were hired by the individual and family services industry.
Preschool teachers in public schools work regular school hours for 10 months of the year. They are usually given two months’ break in the summer where they can teach in summer school if they opt to. If they are employed in schools following year-round schedules, the usually work straight for eight weeks and then get a one week break before the new schedule begins. They get five weeks of break in the winter. The work schedules aren’t as lax in day care settings where preschool teachers often work the entire year and for longer hours each day. The job can be physically demanding and stressful as you will be dealing with playful and active kids.
Preschool Teacher Salary
The May 2013 Occupational Employment and Wages report of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that the mean annual wages of preschool teachers, not including those who teach special education, is $31,420. The agency reported in 2012 that the highest paid preschool teachers worked in the elementary and secondary schools of state, local and private schools who were paid $41,520. Those who worked for individual and family services followed with $28,390 while the third highest paid were preschool teachers who worked for religious and civic organizations who got $27,390. Those working in child day care services got $24,410.
Although the pay is decent, it’s not enough to hold someone who does not have the heart for the job for long. Those who are keenly interested in the profession, however, will be happy to know that government projections see a lot of demand for preschool teachers in the next few years.
Average Preschool Teacher Annual Salary
The average annual salary for preschool teachers is $33,590 a year. Salaries start at $19,970 a year and go up to $54,780 a year.
Average Preschool Teacher Hourly Wage
The average hourly wage for a preschool teacher is $16.15. Hourly wages are between $9.60 and $26.34 an hour.
Stats were based out of 409,740 employed preschool teachers in the United States.
Highest Paying States For Preschool Teachers
- 1. New York $21.30 / hr $44,310 / yr
- 2. District of Columbia $20.01 / hr $41,630 / yr
- 3. Connecticut $19.30 / hr $40,150 / yr
- 4. New Jersey $19.28 / hr $40,110 / yr
- 5. Nebraska $18.88 / hr $39,270 / yr
Top Paying Cities For Preschool Teachers
- 1. Grand Island, NE $28.33 / hr$58,930 / yr
- 2. Laredo, TX $24.24 / hr$50,410 / yr
- 3. New York, NY $23.69 / hr$49,270 / yr
- 4. Longview, TX $23.43 / hr$48,740 / yr
- 5. Waterbury, CT $22.38 / hr$46,550 / yr
Data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Preschool Teacher Career Outlook
The job outlook for preschool teachers is very promising. For the ten-year period covering 2012 to 2022, the employment rate is forecasted to go up 17 percent, a rate that is faster than the average for all job types. Thus, from the 438,200 preschool teachers hired in 2012, the number is set to increase to 514,600 in 2022. This is fueled by the growing demand for preschool programs due to a burgeoning population and the knowledge that enrolling a child in an early childhood program is beneficial to his growth and well-being.
Preschool Teacher Degree
While a high school diploma or its equivalent and early childhood education certification are enough for preschool teachers wishing to work in childcare centers, many employers are now looking for those who hold at least an associate’s degree in early childhood education. A bachelor’s degree in early childhood education is better, though, as it is the educational requirement for public schools. In addition to a degree, preschool teachers in public schools must also be licensed.
Certification is required in some states so it’s worthwhile to get one. The Council for Professional Recognition gives the Child Development Associate (CDA) certification which is often preferred by employers. The Child Care Professional (CCP) certification of the National Early Childhood Program Accreditation is also accepted in some states.