As a kindergarten teacher, you introduce young children to their first official experience as students in a classroom environment. In addition to being an educator, your students might also see you as a special confidant and parental figure they will come to trust and depend on on a daily basis.
Parents entrust their children to your care, and safety is a paramount responsibility. You must know where your students are at all times, make sure they are safe from injury and that they don't harm themselves or others. You'll provide instruction on safety matters including appropriate use of classroom supplies and equipment, as well as monitor physical activity to ensure safe and appropriate play.
A kindergarten teacher’s day is full because young minds need to be occupied every moment or they run the risk of easy distraction. You’re responsible for creating comprehensive lesson plans that incorporate age and skill-appropriate academic exercises paired with creative pursuits. You might co-teach with another educator and collaborate to introduce subject areas like science, social studies, art and music.
You will be responsible for laying the foundation for a student’s educational career through your teaching methodology. This should include an introduction to core subjects such as math and reading. You’ll teach basic concepts like site word recognition, alphabet, letter and name writing, comprehensive learning activities and educational games.
Having a teacher’s aide, paraprofessional or parent helper in your classroom frees up your time for the responsibility of working with students one-on-one. This allows you to assess individual progress, identify advanced students who can be challenged, and make note of kids who need an extra helping hand in some areas.
Social Skills Development
Kindergartners are trying out their social skills, possibly for the first time, and learning and growing through these experiences. Part of your responsibility as a teacher is to ensure they grasp basic concepts related to respect, privacy, compromise and sharing. This might be done through storytelling, modeling behavior and sharing examples of socially acceptable practices.
Testing and Evaluation
A significant responsibility of your position is to monitor and assess your students’ progress and abilities. These early evaluations will be helpful for parents and subsequent teachers in identifying areas of strength and development needs among students. The findings can be used to help students improve their skills in vital areas and prepare them to enter the first grade well prepared.
2016 Salary Information for Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers
Kindergarten and elementary school teachers earned a median annual salary of $55,480 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, kindergarten and elementary school teachers earned a 25th percentile salary of $44,220, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $70,600, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 1,565,300 people were employed in the U.S. as kindergarten and elementary school teachers.
- U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook: What Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers Do
- Family Education: Kindergarten -- What Will They Learn?
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers
- Career Trend: Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers
Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.