Did you know that, between the ages 3 and 5, a child’s vocabulary expands from 300 words to 2,500 words? Or that these early years are of the most important for social and intellectual development?
Many people are starting to understand the importance of early childhood education, as it pertains to children’s short-term and long-term development. And as awareness increases, so does the demand. Some parents are now enrolling their children in preschool and Head Start programs to further their pre-K learning. Some parents are enrolling their children at younger ages for the educational benefits.
As the demand for pre-K education increases, so does the need for qualified and trained early childhood educators. On the whole, teachers are projected to have many job opportunities in the coming years. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that approximately 1.9 million teaching jobs will open up by the year 2024. Of these, nearly 160,000 jobs will need to be filled by preschool teachers alone.
If you are an aspiring preschool teacher, there is no doubt that you are about to enter a rewarding, opportune field. But while the opportunities will be vast, the landscape will be competitive. There are specific requirements that employers will now expect you to have. In order to land your dream job and stand out amongst the competition, you must qualify in your education, skills, and credentials.
An accredited Early Childhood Education program can teach you all that you need to learn, show you all that you need to do, to become a preschool teacher and thrive in this in-demand field. To get you started, we’ve outlined the top preschool teacher requirements you must have under your belt.
Before leading your own classroom, you have to learn to become a teacher. Most employers today expect preschool teachers to have at least an Associate Degree in Early Childhood Education. This postsecondary degree is required of all preschool teachers in Head Start programs. In public schools, preschool teachers are typically required to have at least a Bachelor’s degree.
Preschool teachers must know and understand child development. They must know and understand how to teach young children, how to observe and assess their developmental stages, and how to record their learning progress. Above all, they must know how to interact and engage with children on an educational level. Through classroom, hands-on, and direct work experience, an Early Childhood Ed program can prepare you.
Certification & Qualification
Preschool teachers usually need to obtain certification or licensure before working with children, especially if they are preparing to work in a public school setting. In Connecticut, for example, all public preschool teachers are required to hold certain credentials alongside a completed college degree.
If you pursue your education at Goodwin College, you can prepare for the Early Childhood Teacher credential through our Associate and Bachelor degree programs. Students who complete either of our childhood education degrees automatically qualify for this state-required credential. Upon graduation from Goodwin, all you need to do is file a short application with Connecticut Charts-a-Course (a non-profit early childhood professional development organization), to become a registered preschool teacher of the state.
Teaching preschoolers can be a demanding job. It requires educators to be both patient and personal, compassionate and direct, ready and able. If you are hoping to become a preschool teacher, we recommend focusing on developing the following skills in your Early Childhood Education program:
- Communication Skills: Both written and oral, communication skills are a must-have for preschool teachers. Whether you are working in a childcare center or private school, you must be able to talk to children in an age-appropriate, clear and engaging manner. You must also be able to listen and respond to all of their questions, which can be hard to understand at first. Even more, you must also know how to communicate with parents about their child’s progress. This may include writing up reports, giving feedback, and offering plans for improvement.
- Interpersonal Skills: Interpersonal skills go hand-in-hand with communication skills. As a preschool teacher, you must be able to understand, empathize, and address children’s emotional needs. To engage students at a personal level, you must be able to comfort and connect with them. You must also be able to develop good relationships with parents and co-workers.
- Patience: Patience is key when it comes to working with children, who can be frustrating, overwhelming, and demanding all at once. To be the best preschool teacher you can be, you must know how to stay patient and respond calmly to difficult situations.
- Organizational Skills: There are many moving parts in a preschool – lesson plans, activities, meeting times, children’s records, even whose shoes are whose. On a daily or weekly basis, preschool teachers must stay organized to keep everything on track.
- Creativity: Preschoolers’ minds are everywhere – looking around, thinking of colors, shapes, people, places. It is your job to keep them engaged. Knowing how to plan appropriate lessons that keep your students hooked, as well as adapt to their different learning styles, will be key to your success as a preschool teacher. In your job, try to think out-of-the-box – new games, sing-a-longs, and videos may help keep their attention.
- Physical Stamina: Children have a lot of energy – so should you!
The more you learn about childhood development, the better prepared you will be for a position in the field. Start your career as a preschool teacher at Goodwin College today! Call 800-889-3282 to learn why we’re a leader in Early Childhood Education in the state of Connecticut.