How Do I Become a Preschool Teacher? - Video
Teaching is among the most important and rewarding professions. Preschool teachers can be particularly instrumental in the formative years of a child's development. While these programs were once limited, increased funding for Head Start and other preK initiatives has employment opportunities in this area of education on the rise. Those interested in becoming educators can select from countless teacher prep programs available throughout the country.
Education requirements for preschool teachers can vary by state. In some areas, a bachelor's degree in early childhood education is required for licensure. While other states may license preschool teachers who have earned an associate's degree or certification through a widely recognized authority (as in the case of the Child Development Associate credential). Requirements for preschool teachers in private settings are not federally regulated, but most often these professionals must also have post-secondary education or certification of some kind.
Earning a Degree
Education programs for preschool educators most often include courses in child development, educational theory and other classes on the healthy cognitive, social and emotional growth of children. These academic offerings instill the skills future teachers will need to prepare children for elementary school. Most students in preschool have not yet developed the mental capabilities for such tasks as reading, writing or math. In postsecondary teacher preparation programs, prospective educators learn how to build the foundation skills children will need to succeed academically. The healthy social and emotional development of children is also an important priority. Educators learn how to organize and oversee activities, games and other group activities designed to promote learning. The objective with these lessons is to promote language and social development while building basic skills in art, music, science and math. Educators also learn how to evaluate children's academic skills toward gauging their readiness for elementary school.
PreK education and certification programs often incorporate academic study with in-the-classroom experiences to prepare students for their work with children. Practicum, or student teaching, is generally required before prospective educators complete their studies. This experience in real classrooms can provide teachers with vital experience. It's after demonstrating classroom readiness during this practicum that most teachers take licensing exams or certification tests.