Many people find that working with young children in preschool settings is a rewarding occupation. To start your career as a preschool teacher, you need at least a high school diploma and a certification in early childhood education. In public schools, preschool teachers are usually required to have a bachelor's degree in early childhood education or a similar field. But in addition to the educational requirements, certain other characteristics will stack the odds in your favor in terms of becoming an effective preschool teacher.
A true passion for teaching is one of the most valuable characteristics to possess; teaching young children can be a challenging process. If you view teaching preschoolers simply as a job, you will likely find the work tiring. But if you truly care about the work you do and the development of your students, you will not only be a better teacher, you will find the job more rewarding.
As a preschool teacher you and your students can benefit from your excellent communication skills. Preschool teachers need to be able to convey information clearly, in a simplified way that young children can understand. You also will be required to communicate with your colleagues to discuss the development of students. Additionally, your job requires giving updates to parents to keep them in the loop with their children's progress through letters, phone and in-person meetings.
Excellent Emotional Intelligence
Effective preschool teachers are good mind-readers. While teaching, you must be able to recognize and understand the emotions of your young charges. Children experience a wide variety of emotions in the classroom, ranging from joy and happiness to anger and sadness. You'll need to able to recognize students' underlying feelings to address problematic behaviors. You must also see beyond the surface behaviors of parents who may be anxious, upset or even angry about a child's academic performance.
Preschool teachers are excellent at juggling many responsibilities. As a preschool instructor, you must keep track of each child's individual development and give each student personal attention. Additionally, behavior management is an ongoing responsibility, with rewards granted for good student behavior while preventing negative behavior reinforcement. You also need to manage the overall curriculum for your class, balancing different areas of study and ensuring that the class learns at an appropriate rate.
2016 Salary Information for Preschool Teachers
Preschool teachers earned a median annual salary of $28,790 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, preschool teachers earned a 25th percentile salary of $22,750, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $38,350, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 478,500 people were employed in the U.S. as preschool teachers.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Preschool Teachers
- Introduction to Early Childhood Education; Eva L. Essa
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Preschool Teachers
- Career Trend: Preschool Teachers
M. Scilly is a writer and editor who writes for various online publications, specializing in business and management. He has a fondness for travel and photography. In his free time he enjoys marathon training.