Kindergarten Teacher Career Guide
Kindergarten teachers instruct children in their first year (or years) of school. They work in public and private schools, teaching young children the basics that will serve as building blocks in later years of school. Teaching kindergarten can be simultaneously one of the most rewarding and challenging jobs in a school. It requires patience and a love of children. This guide provides further information on what kindergarten teachers do, how to become one, and typical salary and job outlook.
Kindergarten Teacher Job Description
A kindergarten teacher works with young children ages four through six, promoting students’ academic, physical, and social development. They instruct students by using enthusiastic and hands-on teaching methods and tools, including games, music, art, books, and computers. Children are taught general rules of acceptable behavior so that the kindergarten teacher can maintain order in the classroom. They instruct their young students one-on-one or in groups, adapting teaching methods to meet students’ varying needs and interests. Kindergarten teachers play an important role in childhood development; the job requires that they be able to easily communicate with their students and inspire trust and confidence.
Kindergarten Teacher Requirements and Common Tasks
Kindergarten teachers impart simple but important skills such as color, number, shape, and letter recognition, phonics, basic personal hygiene, and social skills such as sharing and interacting with peers. Teachers will often read to their class aloud and demonstrate activities, as well as encourage class participation. Using various materials and resources, they allow their students to learn by exploration and hands-on discovery. Kindergarten teachers prepare materials, lessons, and projects for their students, and observe and assess performance, skills, behavior, and social development; they also watch for potential problems including health, developmental, or emotional issues. They meet with parents of children periodically to inform them of progress and concerns. Teachers and kindergarteners ordinarily stay in one classroom, except when attending assemblies, eating lunch, or having recess.
How to Become a Kindergarten Teacher
One of the basic requirements to become a kindergarten teacher is earning a bachelor’s degree that includes a state-approved teacher preparation program. A program that focuses on the needs and development of young learners, such as an early childhood education degree, is typical preparation for this career. For teachers in public schools, a state-issued teaching certificate is also necessary. Many programs also require completion of a student teaching internship before a teacher can be licensed. The common steps to becoming a kindergarten teacher are as follows:
- Earn a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education or a closely related subject.
- Complete a student teaching internship in a kindergarten classroom as part of a state-approved teacher preparaton program.
- Take your state’s required tests for prospective kindergarten teachers.
- Apply for a teaching license.
- Begin applying for open kindergarten teaching jobs.
Prospective teachers who already have a bachelor’s degree in a subject other than education may be able to qualify for teacher certification by completing a master’s degree in education that focuses on the needs of young learners and is designed to lead to initial certification. Teachers of kindergarten in private schools must usually have at least a bachelor’s degree, but a state teaching license is not always a requirement in private schools.
Kindergarten Teacher Salary and Job Outlook
As of 2015, the median annual wage for kindergarten teachers was $54,550.1 Depending on the individual employer, benefits will vary. Salary will typically increase with years of service. This career field should see about average growth through 2024, with projected job growth of about 6%.1 Kindergarten teachers can find employment in public elementary schools, private schools, and child care organizations.
Helpful Skills and Experience
First and foremost, prospective kindergarten teachers should love children. Most of their day will be centered on teaching, caring for, and nurturing small children, and as one of the primary figures of authority in these students’ lives, they will also be one of their first role models. Teaching at the kindergarten level can be both stressful and rewarding. Patience, creativity, and excellent communication skills are important skills for people interested in becoming a teacher at the kindergarten level.
- The National Kindergarten Alliance (NKA) – The NKA was founded in 2001 and exists to provide support and resources for kindergarten teachers and children.
- The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) – Provides content, discounts on resources, and networking opportunities for its members.
Frequently Asked Questions about Becoming a Kindergarten Teacher
Question: What types of courses do I take to become a kindergarten teacher?
Answer: The courses required will vary depending on the school, but most prospective kindergarten teachers will complete coursework in early childhood education, including classes in child psychology as well as basic math, reading, and science courses.
Question: Do kindergarten teachers get summers off?
Answer: Depending on the individual school and its calendar, most teachers at the kindergarten level do get 2 months off during the summers. Teachers may choose to teach during a summer program for additional income.
1. US Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/kindergarten-and-elementary-school-teachers.htm