CareerExplorer’s step-by-step guide on how to become a kindergarten teacher.
Is becoming a kindergarten teacher right for me?
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Learn how to work with young children
Volunteering as a teacher’s assistant at a local school or daycare facility provides beneficial experience prior to enrolling in a post-secondary education program. Consider visiting a kindergarten classroom to observe the live environment and talk to and learn from an experienced educator in the field.
Kindergarten teachers ordinarily major in elementary or early childhood education. The selection of a major may be dependent on specific state licensing requirements. While earning their undergraduate degree, prospective kindergarten teachers should create a professional teaching portfolio, comprised of teaching philosophy statements, a resume, references, certifications, professional development activities, and lesson plans. This portfolio will exhibit competence and will be of use during the post-graduation job hunt.
Student Teaching Practicum
One of the prerequisites of most teacher preparation programs is a one- or two-semester student teaching practicum. This allows students to hone their teaching skills with the assistance and support of an experienced kindergarten teacher. In addition to gaining in-classroom experience, student teachers receive periodic assessments of their lesson planning and instructional skills.
Individuals who intend to teach kindergarten must be licensed in the state in which they wish to be employed. Licensing requirements may vary by state. Typically, candidates must graduate from a state-approved education program and pass proficiency exams and assessments of instructional methods. Many states rely on the Praxis tests or Pre-Professional Skills Test (PPST) as a national standard for assessing qualifications. These exams test core academic skills and aptitude in specific subcategories such as counseling and special needs education.
Additionally, prospective teachers must submit fingerprints and have a clean criminal record to become licensed.
Like all teachers, kindergarten teachers may choose to earn voluntary certification through the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS). Teachers with a Bachelor’s degree may apply for this national credential – recognized by all states – after gaining a minimum of three years of classroom experience in a state-approved learning institution. The credential is valid for ten years and may be renewed. The Board offers sixteen certification subjects; a kindergarten teacher is likely to focus on the generalist certification for early childhood.
Master’s Degree (optional)
A Master’s degree in elementary education is an excellent choice for (1) individuals who already have a Bachelor’s in a non-teaching field and wish to transition into a new career as a kindergarten teacher, and (2) experienced teachers looking to specialize, conduct educational research, and enhance their career potential.
Professional Associations and Resources
How to become a Kindergarten Teacher
Kindergarten teachers in public schools are required to have at least a Bachelor’s degree and a teaching license for the state in which they work. Most obtain a degree in child development, elementary education, and/or early childhood education. Coursework includes the study of basic math, reading, and writing; as well as children’s literature and art. The curriculum also touches on educational psychology and linguistic theory and aims to equip students with skills that will allow them to effectively teach in multicultural classrooms; integrate emerging technology; and provide education to students with special needs. Kindergarten teachers have the same options for specialization as any elementary school teacher. Many jurisdictions stipulate that they fulfill continuing education requirements to retain their state credential.
Undergraduate students also complete an accredited teacher preparation program, which typically involves one or two semesters of student teaching in a classroom setting. During this practicum, experienced educators provide mentorship on how to manage a classroom, create effective lesson plans, evaluate students, and effectively communicate with parents and students. The teacher-mentors also assess prospective teachers and provide their schools with an evaluation of their in-classroom performance.
Kindergarten typically marks the beginning of an individual’s formal schooling. For this reason, kindergarten teachers play a particularly important role in young people’s lives. They lay foundations. Not only of phonics and of counting. But of social behaviors, from group cooperation to individual hygiene. These responsibilities call for patient and passionate practitioners.