How to Become a Kindergarten Teacher: Step-by-Step Guide
Learn how to become a kindergarten teacher. Research the job description and the education and licensing requirements and find out how to start a career as a kindergarten teacher.
Should I Become a Kindergarten Teacher?
Kindergarten teachers are involved in the instruction and development of children who are generally between five and six years old. These professionals guide the children's intellectual and interpersonal growth via play, educational tools and instructional activities in the classroom. Working with young, energetic children can be tiring, and a great deal of patience and empathy might be required for success.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported the mean annual salary for kindergarten teachers, except those in special education, was $54,510 as of May 2015.
Kindergarten teachers in public schools are required to have at least a bachelor's degree in education and teacher certification for the state in which they work. Certification typically requires candidates to complete student teaching requirements and pass any required professional exams. Some employers may require a master's degree, and a student teaching internship is also required in most cases.
In addition to education, you also need to possess specific skills including patience, creativity, communication, classroom management and flexibility.
Steps to Becoming a Kindergarten Teacher
Let's look at the steps you can take to become a kindergarten teacher.
Step 1: Learn How to Work with Young Children
Some elementary education degree programs require applicants to have a certain amount of experience working with young children. Volunteering as a teacher's assistant at a local school or daycare facility can give you beneficial experience prior to enrolling in a postsecondary education program. Working with kindergartners takes patience and the capacity to relate to youngsters who are likely to be facing their first classroom environment.
Consider visiting a kindergarten classroom. Seeing a kindergarten classroom in action could help you decide whether you are truly suited for the job. Additionally, you might even have the opportunity to observe, talk to and learn from the experienced kindergarten teacher.
Step 2: Earn a Bachelor's Degree
Kindergarten teachers ordinarily major in elementary or early childhood education in a bachelor's degree program. Which major you pursue depends on the school and the state licensing requirements. Elementary or early childhood education degree programs often include the study of basic math, reading and writing in addition to classes in children's literature and art. Additionally, bachelor's degree programs include other types of education courses, such as multicultural classrooms, learning technology and instructing students with special needs.
During your education, create a professional teaching portfolio. Such portfolios incorporate teaching philosophy statements, references, resumes, certifications, professional development activities, and lesson plans. This portfolio is used to exhibit competence during the post-graduation job hunt.
Step 3: Complete Student Teaching Requirements
Most teacher preparation programs feature one or two semesters of student teaching in classrooms. During the classroom internship, future kindergarten teachers are mentored by experienced educators in topics such as classroom management, effective lesson plans, student evaluation and parent-teacher communication. They are also evaluated on their classroom performance.
During the student teaching internship, you may have the opportunity to meet some of the parents of students in the host class. Being able to communicate with the parents is an important part of a kindergarten teacher's job.
Step 4: Get a Teaching Certificate
Anyone who intends to teach kindergarten must be certified in the state in which he or she plans to work, but licensure requirements may differ by state. Individuals can contact the Board of Education in his or her state for information on the requirements for kindergarten teachers. Typically, they consist of graduating from a state-approved teacher education program, in addition to passing basic proficiency exams and assessments in instructional methods.
Step 5: Earn a Graduate Degree to Advance your Career
Certain states expect kindergarten teachers to obtain additional education, such as a master's degree, after earning certification. A graduate degree is also one way to further a teaching career. These programs explore the subject of teaching in great detail and offer students an opportunity to be involved in educational research.
To become a kindergarten teacher, at minimum you need a bachelor's degree in elementary or early childhood education and must hold a license to teach from your state.