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Become A Prekindergarten Teacher

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Working As A Prekindergarten Teacher

  • Thinking Creatively
  • Training and Teaching Others
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
  • Getting Information
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Deal with People

  • $43,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Prekindergarten Teacher Do

Kindergarten and elementary school teachers prepare younger students for future schooling by teaching them basic subjects such as math and reading. 

Duties

Kindergarten and elementary school teachers typically do the following:

  • Create lesson plans to teach students subjects, such as reading, science, social studies, and math
  • Teach students how to study and communicate with others
  • Observe students to evaluate their abilities, strengths, and weaknesses
  • Teach lessons they have planned to an entire class of students or to smaller groups
  • Grade students’ assignments to monitor their progress
  • Communicate with parents about their child’s progress
  • Work with students individually to help them overcome specific learning challenges
  • Prepare students for standardized tests required by the state
  • Develop and enforce classroom rules to teach children proper behavior
  • Supervise children outside of the classroom—for example, during lunchtime or recess

Kindergarten and elementary school teachers help students learn and apply important concepts. Many teachers use a hands-on approach to help students understand abstract concepts, solve problems, and develop critical thinking skills. For example, they may demonstrate how to do a science experiment and then have the students conduct the experiment themselves. They may have students work together to learn how to collaborate to solve problems.

Kindergarten and elementary school teachers generally teach kindergarten through fourth or fifth grade. However, in some schools, elementary school teachers may teach sixth, seventh, and eighth grade. They typically teach students several subjects throughout the day.

Some teachers may teach in a multilevel classroom that includes students across two or more grades. They may teach the same group of students for several years.

Kindergarten and elementary school students spend most of their day in one classroom. Teachers may escort students to assemblies; to classes taught by other teachers, such as art or music; or to recess. While students are away from the classroom, teachers plan lessons, grade assignments, or meet with other teachers and staff.

In some schools, teachers may work in subject specialization teams in which they teach one or two specific subjects, either English and social studies or math and science. Generally, students spend half their time with one teacher and half their time with the other.

Some kindergarten and elementary school teachers teach special classes, such as art, music, and physical education.

Some schools employ teachers of English as a second language (ESL) or English for speakers of other languages (ESOL). Both of these types of teachers work exclusively with students who are learning the English language, often referred to as English language learners (ELLs). The teachers work with students individually or in groups to help them improve their English language skills and to help them with assignments from other classes.

Students with learning disabilities or emotional or behavioral disorders are often taught in traditional classes. Kindergarten and elementary teachers work with special education teachers to adapt lesson plans to these students’ needs and monitor the students’ progress. In some cases, kindergarten and elementary school teachers may co-teach lessons with special education teachers.

Some teachers maintain websites to communicate with parents about students’ assignments, upcoming events, and grades. For students in higher grades, teachers may create websites or discussion boards to present information or to expand on a lesson taught in class.

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How To Become A Prekindergarten Teacher

Kindergarten and elementary school teachers must have a bachelor’s degree. In addition, public school teachers must have a state-issued certification or license.

Education

All states require public kindergarten and elementary school teachers to have at least a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. Some states also require kindergarten and elementary school teachers to major in a content area, such as math or science. They typically enroll in their college’s teacher preparation program and also take classes in education and child psychology in addition to those required by their major.

In teacher education programs, future teachers learn how to present information to young students and how to work with young students of varying abilities and backgrounds. Programs typically include fieldwork, such as student teaching. For information about teacher preparation programs in your state, visit teach.org.

Some states require all teachers to earn a master’s degree after receiving their teaching certification.

Private schools typically seek kindergarten and elementary school teachers who have a bachelor’s degree in elementary education.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

All states require teachers in public schools to be licensed or certified. Those who teach in private schools are generally not required to be licensed. Most states require teachers to pass a background check.

Kindergarten and elementary school teachers are typically certified to teach early childhood grades, which are usually preschool through third grade, or elementary school grades, which are usually first through sixth grades or first through eighth grades.

Requirements for certification vary by state. In addition to earning a bachelor’s degree, they are required to complete a teacher preparation program and supervised experience in teaching, typically gained through student teaching. Some states require a minimum grade point average. States often require candidates to pass a general teaching certification test, as well as a test that demonstrates their knowledge of the subject they will teach. Although kindergarten and elementary school teachers typically do not teach only a single subject, they may be required to pass a content area test to earn their certification. For information on certification requirements in your state, visit teach.org.

Teachers are frequently required to complete annual professional development classes to keep their license. Some states require teachers to complete a master’s degree after receiving their certification.

All states offer an alternative route to certification for people who already have a bachelor’s degree but lack the education courses required for certification. Some alternative certification programs allow candidates to begin teaching immediately after graduation, under the supervision of an experienced teacher. These programs cover teaching methods and child development. After they complete the program, candidates are awarded full certification. Other programs require students to take classes in education before they can teach. Students may be awarded a master’s degree after completing one of these programs.

Training

In order to receive certification, teachers need to undergo a period of fieldwork, commonly referred to as student teaching. During student teaching, they work with a mentor teacher and get experience teaching students in a classroom setting. The amount of time required varies by state.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Teachers must collaborate with teacher assistants and special education teachers. In addition, they need to discuss students’ needs with parents and administrators.

Creativity. Kindergarten and elementary school teachers must plan lessons that engage young students, adapting the lessons to different learning styles.

Patience. Working with students of different abilities and backgrounds can be difficult. Kindergarten and elementary school teachers must respond with patience when students struggle with material.

Physical stamina. Working with kindergarten and elementary-aged students can be tiring. Teachers need to be able to physically, mentally, and emotionally keep up with the students.

Resourcefulness. Kindergarten and elementary school teachers need to be able to explain difficult concepts in terms that young students can understand. In addition, they must be able to get students engaged in learning and adapt their lessons to meet students’ needs.

Advancement

Experienced teachers can advance to serve as mentors to newer teachers or to become lead teachers. In these roles, they help less experienced teachers to improve their teaching skills.

With additional education or certification, teachers may become school counselors, school librarians, or instructional coordinators. Some become assistant principals or principals, both of which generally require additional schooling in education administration or leadership.

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Average Length of Employment
Group Teacher 3.9 years
Teacher 3.9 years
Master Teacher 3.6 years
Head Teacher 3.4 years
Montessori Teacher 3.3 years
Head Start Teacher 3.0 years
Lead Teacher 2.8 years
Pre-K Teacher 2.7 years
Preschool Teacher 2.7 years
Lead Pre-K Teacher 2.6 years
Teacher Associate 2.4 years
Co-Teacher 1.7 years
Top Careers Before Prekindergarten Teacher
Teacher 9.9%
Cashier 3.7%
Tutor 3.5%
Internship 3.5%
Nanny 3.5%
Director 2.7%
Volunteer 2.5%
Top Careers After Prekindergarten Teacher
Teacher 12.3%
Director 3.3%
Nanny 3.0%
Volunteer 2.2%

Do you work as a Prekindergarten Teacher?

Top Skills for A Prekindergarten Teacher

  1. Appropriate Curriculum
  2. Classroom Management
  3. Lesson Plans
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Created and implemented developmentally-appropriate curriculum that addressed all learning styles.
  • Utilize and ensure consistent implementation of behavior techniques and classroom management techniques.
  • Developed and implemented differentiated Every Child Ready lesson plans/homework assignments for 18 PreK inner-city students.
  • Prepared 4 and 5 year-old children with skills needed to be ready for Kindergarten in Fall, 2006.
  • Collaborated with parents/guardians through daily communication, parent-teacher conferences, and home visits to ensure student progress and scholastic achievement.

Prekindergarten Teacher Demographics

Gender

Female

82.3%

Unknown

13.0%

Male

4.7%
Ethnicity

White

61.9%

Hispanic or Latino

15.1%

Black or African American

13.2%

Asian

6.8%

Unknown

2.9%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

72.7%

Mandarin

9.1%

Chinese

4.5%

Vietnamese

4.5%

Braille

4.5%

Japanese

4.5%
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Prekindergarten Teacher Education

Schools

Ashford University

10.0%

Lesley University

7.5%

University of Phoenix

7.5%

Walden University

7.5%

University of Central Florida

6.3%

Grand Canyon University

6.3%

Nova Southeastern University

5.0%

Florida International University

5.0%

Monmouth University

3.8%

College of Saint Rose

3.8%

National Louis University

3.8%

Prairie View A & M University

3.8%

Wichita State University

3.8%

Ellis University

3.8%

University of North Florida

3.8%

Towson University

3.8%

University of North Texas

3.8%

Wheelock College

3.8%

University of North Carolina at Charlotte

3.8%

Northeastern University

3.8%
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Majors

Early Childhood Education

22.2%

Elementary Education

16.8%

Education

12.1%

Human Development

7.5%

Psychology

6.4%

Special Education

5.9%

Curriculum And Instruction

5.4%

Educational Leadership

2.8%

Business

2.3%

Social Work

2.3%

Counseling Psychology

2.1%

General Education, Specific Areas

1.8%

Teaching Assistants/Aides

1.8%

Interdisciplinary Studies

1.8%

Nursing

1.8%

English

1.5%

Criminal Justice

1.5%

School Counseling

1.3%

Medical Assisting Services

1.3%

Communication

1.3%
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Degrees

Bachelors

40.1%

Masters

31.9%

Other

12.7%

Associate

8.6%

Certificate

4.3%

Doctorate

1.0%

Diploma

0.8%

License

0.6%
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