How To Become An Early Childhood Teacher

Gina L | November 18, 2008

Early Childhood TeacherIf you have a desire to become an important part of a child’s formative years, then perhaps you’ve considered a career as an early childhood teacher. Whether you teach preschool, kindergarten, first grade, second grade, or third grade, a job as an early childhood teacher will put you up close and personal with young, energetic learners on a daily basis.
How do I become an early childhood teacher?
If you want to become an early childhood teacher, you must have the patience, stamina, and personality to work with a room full of energetic children each day. You also must have a bachelor’s degree for a lead teacher position, while assistant positions often require either a high school diploma or some college experience.
In order to work in a public school system as an early childhood teacher, one must become licensed to teach preschool through third grade. Each state has its own licensure guidelines, which usually require a bachelor’s degree, student teaching experience, and passing grades on standardized teaching exams. In order to advance to the next level of licensure, usually called professional licensure, a combination of a master’s degree and several years of teaching experience are needed. Like other teaching licenses, an early childhood teacher license must be renewed, usually in increments of five years, by taking continuing education classes. Private schools usually do not require licensure, but they do prefer new hires to have at least a bachelor’s degree and job experience. What will I learn in early childhood teacher school?
Early childhood teachers have the responsibility of honing the intellectual and social skills of young children during the very important first years of their education. Like parents, teachers are to be role models for their students, helping them to grow into responsible adults. Therefore, early childhood education programs are composed of coursework that will help teachers achieve this goal.
 While the exact curriculum will vary from college to college, most undergraduate programs in early childhood education will cover topics such as psychology, childhood development, curriculum, language, and literacy. Like other education programs, a program in early childhood education will also require a student teaching experience, in which you will receive vital hands-on training in a classroom under the supervision of a veteran teacher. Some students even work as assistant teachers while they earn their licensure and degree.  Students of early childhood education programs learn to create interesting, interactive lessons that engage students and teach them necessary skills. Hands-on learning is a big element in early childhood classrooms, and so students will learn how to use manipulatives, such as blocks, as part of a lesson. Students may also study specific, proven methods of education, like the Montessori method of teaching, though most programs offer general education theory so that a student might find out which methods of teaching will be most successful for him or her as an early childhood teacher.   In addition to many hours of classroom instruction, students in early childhood education programs will also complete a student teaching practicum, in which they work in a classroom under the tutelage of an experience early childhood teacher. This is often the most exciting part of an early childhood education program, as students are able to put into practice what they have learned from their research and study. If you enjoy working with children, a career as an early childhood teacher has many rewards.  

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