Kindergarten teachers teach five to six years old children in order to facilitate their development. They guide the children’s interpersonal and intellectual growth through educational tools, play and instructional activities in the classroom. An undergraduate degree and state certification are the minimum requirements for kindergarten teachers to pursue their profession. To obtain certification, aspiring kindergarten teachers need teaching experience; in addition, take any prescribed state exam. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has listed some requirements that need to be satisfied by prospective kindergarten teachers. The following is a step-by-step guide that needs to be followed by students planning a career in this field.
Stage One: Learning How to Work with Young Children
Experience in teaching young children is required of applicants in some elementary education degree courses. Prospective candidates can volunteer to work as teacher assistants (TAs) in local daycare facilities or schools to garner such experience. Patience is a highly desirable characteristic for a prospective kindergarten teacher who must be able to relate to a young child attending school for the first time in their life. Visiting a live kindergarten classroom will benefit an aspiring kindergarten teacher by helping them decide whether or not they have an aptitude for the job. They would also benefit by observing, talking to and learning from the experience of a kindergarten teacher at the school.
Stage Two: Completing a Bachelor Degree Program
Typically, kindergarten teachers hold bachelor degrees in early or elementary childhood education. The selection of the concentration area of study is largely influenced by state licensing norms and the school that the candidate attends. Coursework in such programs includes writing, reading and basic math alongside courses in children’s art and literature. There is also a focus on teaching children with special needs, learning technology and multicultural classrooms. Aspiring kindergarten teachers can improve their career prospects by creating a professional teaching portfolio that includes lesson plans, professional development activities, certifications, resumes, references and statements of teaching philosophy. The portfolio will serve to attract the attention of employers toward the competence of the aspiring teacher to perform their job.
Stage Three: Satisfying Student Teaching Requirements
Majority of teacher preparation programs require trainees to participate in classroom internships spread over one or two semesters. During such internships, experienced educators mentor prospective kindergarten teachers in subject areas such as parent-teacher interaction, student evaluation, effective lesson plans and classroom management. Their classroom performance is part of the evaluation performance. Getting to know the parents of students during classroom internships can benefit an aspiring kindergarten teacher who will have to communicate frequently with parents during their career.
Stage Four: Acquire Teaching Certificate
Aspiring kindergarten teachers need state certification to be able to teach in the respective state; however, each state may have its own licensure norms. The state’s Board of Education will be able to inform an inquiring kindergarten teacher about the exact norms. Usually, such norms require candidates to graduate from a teacher training program approved by the state. They would also need to pass basic tests devised to assess instructional methods and exams to test proficiency. In some states, kindergarten teachers are required to obtain a master degree after earning a certificate.