Which degree are you most interested in?
A look into your career as a preschool teacher
Teaching offers a number of rewarding and exciting daily duties. For starters, you get to interact with children and help them develop a love of learning that can last throughout their lives. Being there at the start of a child’s education is especially important, and as a preschool teacher, you not only get to be among a student’s first teachers, but you get to educate them in a fun environment.
Many individuals who become preschool teachers do so because of a passion for teaching young children. According to Payscale, preschool teachers enjoy their work and tend to have high levels of job satisfaction. And, while it can be tough getting children age 5 and under to engage in their education, there are opportunities to make learning fun through games and other activities.
Continuing their own education can be an ever-present part of teachers’ careers. Beyond certification and a bachelor’s degree, enhancing your educational background with an Online Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction (Early Childhood Education) may be advantageous to professional growth, as graduate studies can make you more competitive for future opportunities in early childhood education.
For example, ASU Online’s Master of Education program focuses on equipping students with the specialized skills and advanced knowledge to excel in teaching young children. The program emphasizes early childhood pedagogy, among many more skills, targeted toward professionals working with infants and children between grades K-3.
A typical day for a preschool teacher
Preparing students for kindergarten and elementary school is a preschool teacher’s ultimate goal, but it’s up to each teacher to determine how to present information to the children in a way that can ignite a passion for learning. Playing, problem solving, questioning and experimenting are key in how young children learn. This means the biggest task for a preschool teacher is to plan and lead classroom activities that teach basic skills to prepare for elementary school in a way students will enjoy.
Across the country, conventional teaching methods have given way to more engaged, interactive forms of learning. One example that the ASU community has become involved with is Early Years Educators at Play, or EYEPlay. EYEPlay is a professional development program teaching educators to promote physical movement and non-verbal responses, such as facial animations or drama, to further stimulate learning among young children. This type of lesson plan may be increasingly popular in a preschool setting, as EYEPlay has had successful results so far.
In addition to interactive learning, it’s also important for a preschool teacher to maintain an orderly learning environment and closely observe students during the day. As the first professional educator in a student’s life, a preschool teacher needs to monitor signs of emotional and cognitive development and keep parents abreast of any changes.
Another primary component to the job is communicating with parents. As a preschool teacher, you’re responsible for student assessment and providing feedback to parents on each student’s performance and overall behavior. Having parent-teacher conferences allows you to fully inform parents about their child’s development and progress.
A closer look at the professional landscape of preschool teachers
Becoming a preschool teacher gives you the option to stay in the classroom with students throughout your career, or consider using your experience and educational background to pursue administrative roles in early childhood education.
Job growth is predicted to hover around the average for all professions, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. From 2014 to 2024, the profession is estimated to grow 7 percent, or nearly 30,000 new employment opportunities. This is largely due to an increasing demand for early childhood education resulting from earlier enrollments in preschool.
Preschool teachers can work in a variety of settings, including public and private schools, child care centers, charitable organizations and other licensed educational facilities. The pay offered by these institutions varies, as does the requirements for employment. This is especially true for different states, so contact your state department of education to understand your individual early childhood education requirements.
Becoming a preschool teacher
In conjunction with your educational background in early childhood education, there are several additional skills which can be critical for success as a preschool teacher. Most essential are patience and stamina. Caring for and working with children ranging in ages from 1 to 5 requires patience. It also requires physical stamina, since young children are very active and learn best when engaged in educational games and physical play. Other important skills for the job include:
- Engaging students through creative lessons that are adaptable to suit different learning styles
- Conveying information to both parents and colleagues about students’ progress through strong communication and writing skills
- Communicating effectively with small children, speaking to them at a level they can understand
- Understanding the emotional needs of young children
While it isn’t often required to have a graduate-level degree to become a preschool teacher, having a Master of Education in curriculum and instruction can provide you with better professional prospects, especially if you’re looking to join a Head Start or similar program.
Learn more about your potential career as a preschool teacher
Pursuing a career in early childhood education opens the door to a number of possibilities working with and supporting young children. Becoming a preschool teacher gets you involved on the ground level with children, introducing them to the fundamentals of learning. No matter which avenue within early childhood education feels right to you, you can learn more about expanding your qualifications through the online Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction (Early Childhood Education) program from Arizona State University. This degree helps you prepare for many careers in early childhood education by exploring specialized skills and advanced knowledge specific to the field.