Pre-K Teacher Job Description
Pre-K teachers are responsible for the education of children before they reach kindergarten age. They prepare students for kindergarten by teaching them the foundations of basic school subjects. Pre-K teachers generally work with children ages two to five in private schools, daycare settings, head start centers, churches, and some public schools. These teachers can work both full and part time depending on their employer. Part-time teachers work three to six hours a day, while full-time teachers are often responsible for separate morning and afternoon classes and work eight-hour shifts between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. Public school pre-K teachers sometimes have summers off, while others teach summer programs.
Pre-K Teacher Duties and Responsibilities
While a pre-K teacher’s day-to-day responsibilities are determined by where they work, there are many core tasks associated with the role. Based on our analysis of job listings, these include:
Work One-on-One with Children
Although most of the school day is spent working with children in a group setting, pre-K teachers also work one-on-one with children, keeping them on task, implementing the curriculum, and assessing each child’s progress in social, language, and motor skills. They also tend to personal needs like removing coats and providing bathroom assistance.
Facilitate Group Activities
Pre-K teachers supervise group activities that help children adapt and interact socially. Teachers promote fairness and group engagement through activities that encourage cooperation, such as art, music, and group games, and other forms of hands-on learning. They incorporate storytelling and rhyming games to teach vocabulary and language skills.
Teach Age-Appropriate Concepts
Although the primary method of learning centers around play, pre-K is when children are introduced to concepts that are further explored in kindergarten, like literacy. Pre-K students learn about the alphabet, colors, shapes, numbers, and social skills.
These teachers serve snacks and beverages to pre-K students in a way that incorporates learning and social skills.
Plan Curriculum and Schedules
All teachers spend a portion of their workday planning curriculum and creating daily lesson plans. Pre-K teachers focus on areas like language skills, personal hygiene, motor skills, social skills, and child development. They also make sure daily routines include enough rest, physical exercise, and playtime.
Communicate with Parents
Updating parents on their child’s progress is an important part of this job. These teachers refer to records and documents they keep of daily progress and behavior issues and are always on the lookout for signs of developmental or emotional problems.
Pre-K Teacher Skills and Qualifications
People with lots of energy and patience who love working with kids make wonderful pre-K teachers. Working with young children has its own set of specific challenges, and the following skills are essential to thrive as a pre-K teacher:
- Creativity – pre-K teachers need the creativity to make lessons plans that engage very young students. They also must adapt lessons to serve students with different cultural backgrounds, languages, and learning styles
- Communication skills – these teachers need excellent communication skills to engage students and to share updates and progress reports with parents and other staff
- Organization skills – teachers are responsible for many students and need excellent organization abilities to keep track of lesson plans, progress reports, and other records
- Interpersonal skills – pre-K teachers need empathy and sympathy to relate to their students and teach them effectively. They must also develop positive relationships with parents and other staff, and make sure everyone works together for the benefit of each student
- Physical fitness – keeping up with young children requires constant movement, so pre-K teachers need a lot of energy and stamina
- Patience – working with very young children can be frustrating, but these teachers must maintain a calm and cool attitude even in the most difficult or overwhelming situations
Pre-K Teacher Education and Training
The requirements to become a pre-K teacher vary depending on the employer and the state. Some pre-K teachers only need a high school diploma, while others need a four-year degree in child development or early childhood education. Some states require a license for pre-K teachers to work in public schools, while others do not. Some licenses require an associate’s degree, while others require a bachelor’s degree. Most pre-K teachers earn a Child Development Associate credential, which requires courses in early childhood education and work experience with children. Education and training requirements for pre-K teachers in private schools are generally less stringent than working in public schools.
Pre-K Teacher Salary and Outlook
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median pay for pre-K teachers is $28,990 per year, or $13.94 per hour. Employment in this field is projected to grow 10 percent by 2026, which is faster than average for other occupations. This growth is expected because the importance of early childhood education is gaining momentum. Most full-time pre-K teachers enjoy benefits such as paid time off, retirement, and health insurance, depending on which sector they work for.
If a career as a pre-K teacher sounds exciting to you, you’re in luck! We searched the web for the best resources to get you on your way to becoming an early childhood educator:
PreSchoolTeacher.org – this all-in-one resource helps prospective pre-K teachers find education programs, get credentials, and locate jobs in their area. It details specific requirements for each state and offers tips on finding the right pre-K job for you
National Association for the Education of Young Children – NAEYC promotes quality early learning for young children, focusing on practice and policy in the early childhood education profession and offering support for those seeking work in the field
A Survival Guide for the Preschool Teacher – this step-by-step guide outlines how to become a successful preschool teacher and includes strategies for classroom management
Skills for Preschool Teachers – this classic reference provides research-based tips for teachers developing new skills and methods for the classroom environment
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