How a preschool teacher differs
Preschool typically begins for children between two and five years old. It’s a very tender time for children, especially regarding their overall development and growth. Preschool teachers have an immense responsibility to prepare these young children for the rest of their education. They do so by focusing on the four developmental domains: cognitive, physical, social-emotional, and language. Progress in these domains serves as the foundation for the academic skills children will learn in elementary school and beyond.
What are preschool teacher jobs really like?
Since preschool teachers work with young children, they may be in a public or private elementary school, a standalone preschool, or an early childhood education program. Their classroom sizes can vary with a range of 10-24 children.
The role of a preschool teacher is to teach foundational skills that contribute to their learning and growth. Preschool is where children learn essential social and emotional skills that help them with conflict resolution, communication, and problem-solving.
Preschool teachers are also more involved with the families of their children since this is such a critical developmental stage. This communication between teacher and parent is essential because it helps ensure alignment between what they’re learning at school and practicing at home.
The educational foundation preschool teachers provide allows children to handle more complex concepts. In addition to the academic side, there is also the developmental side. Preschool teachers also help children with their behavioral and social development. Overall, the main responsibilities of a preschool teacher include:
- Develop lesson plans based on the learning objectives and outcomes set by the school
- Teaching educational basics like the alphabet, numbers, colors, writing, and reading
- Assess each child’s academic, social, and behavioral progress throughout the year and continuously adjust their educational plan as needed
- Communicate with parents about their child’s learning plan, overall development, and what they can do at home to supplement what they learn at school
- Manage a classroom, including helping children resolve conflicts and increasing their attention span
- Understand how to identify and adjust to children who are experiencing behavioral issues, have a learning disorder, or are neurodiverse.
Preschool teachers should be aware and communicate with parents along the way so they can develop a custom learning plan together.
How to become a preschool teacher
The beginning of your journey to becoming an educator is, naturally, a good education. The minimum amount of education required to become a preschool teacher will depend on your state and whether you’ll be in public schools. On top of a degree, a state or your specific school may also require an educator preparation program, various certifications, and a teaching license. Certain states may also require your degree to be in early childhood education specifically, or will require additional qualifications. Also, you may be required to renew your license or certification every few years.
Understanding the different benefits of preschool teacher jobs
As with any job, you’ll be offered certain benefits in addition to your annual salary. This may include healthcare, childcare services, paid time off, opportunities for raises, etc. Separately, there will also be the terms of your employment as a teacher. This may include your maximum classroom size, being provided an assistant, or whether the school year is 10 months long or year-round. The best preschool teacher job offer for you will depend on what fits your lifestyle and needs, and you can negotiate for what’s most important to you.
Preschool differs from daycare, but there can be some overlap in age groups served and salary. Daycares are typically full-time childcare programs suitable for working families that typically serve infants and toddlers. Daycare is focused less on structure and academic growth and more on childcare and “play.” Most daycares only require a GED or high school diploma to be a daycare worker, but more education is recommended to move up to a daycare director. If flexible hours and more freedom in your day-to-day are especially important benefits to you, then being a daycare worker is another great career option to consider.
How much does a preschool teacher make?
The salary of a preschool teacher will mainly depend on the state, followed by the city, school district, or individual school. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median salary for preschool teachers was $30,210 in 2021. This number is a starting point for what to expect as a preschool teacher. In addition, the U.S. News & World Report lists the best-paying states for preschool teachers as:
New Jersey: $47,190
District of Columbia: $45,890
New York: $44,760
Your salary as you gain experience in any career path should increase with experience or education. For preschool teachers, however, education actually provides a better opportunity for increasing your salary. A study from the National Center for Education Statistics reveals that educators with a master’s degree will typically earn higher than those with just a bachelor’s degree, even if they have equal experience. So, more education is always the way to go for educators!
Job outlook for preschool teachers
The demand for preschooler teachers is growing. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in 2020 that there were 469,000 jobs and the growth was expected to be 18% over the next 10 years. This means that there are many opportunities for preschool teachers to find work once they graduate from school. If you want a rewarding career with an opportunity to positively influence the development of kids, then it’s definitely a great option to consider. But, keep in mind that there can be a lot of variation in benefits, support, and job satisfaction in the education sector.
So, are you ready to become a preschool teacher?
Preschool teaching can vary widely from state to state and school to school. If you decide to pursue it as a career, be open-minded throughout the process. You may discover that you’re more suited to another age group or a different part of the education sector such as administration. If your motivation is to influence the next generation to make a positive impact, then becoming a preschool teacher might be for you.
Brightwheel is the complete solution for early education providers, enabling you to streamline your center’s operations and build a stand-out reputation. Brightwheel connects the most critical aspects of running your center—including sign in and out, parent communications, tuition billing, and licensing and compliance—in one easy-to-use tool, along with providing best-in-class customer support and coaching. Brightwheel is trusted by thousands of early education centers and millions of parents. Learn more at mybrightwheel.com.