If you have a passion for helping kids get started on the right path to education and knowledge, you might want to consider teaching in elementary school. Generally speaking, elementary school teachers work with kids between kindergarten and fifth grade, though sometimes they can push to pre-K and through sixth grades, depending on the state and individual school district.
Teachers in elementary school are vital to helping kids develop the social skills and basic tools they’ll need throughout their education, from sharing and cooperation to arithmetic, reading, writing and social studies. Learn about the requirements to become an elementary school teacher, the responsibilities and how you can enter this ultimately rewarding field.
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What Is an Elementary School Teacher?
Elementary school teachers do so much more than having kids learn common core math and writing skills. They help kids to develop study skills, learning habits and social skills. They build enthusiasm for education and knowledge, and can be the difference in success for children from a very early age.
Unlike middle- and high-school teachers, those who teach elementary school will need a solid knowledge base in all subjects, as they can teach anything at any time. In most areas, a single teacher will lead a day-long class, switching between subjects as needed. In general, lessons are going to be based on activities, but formal lessons will be introduced as children get older to prepare kids for future education.
Skills and Requirements of Elementary Teachers
Elementary school teachers require a broad skills set to perform their daily duties. They must be outstanding at lesson planning, detail-oriented and have a strong grasp of how children learn and develop. They need to be familiar with how to teach the basics of any subject, including art, music, writing, science, math, English, social studies or any other subject required.
Teachers must be sensitive to the developmental needs of children, including how to address potential learning disabilities. They must also have cultural sensitivity, as they will be teaching children to excel in an increasingly globalized world. They must have interpersonal collaborative skills to work with other teachers, school administrators and parents.
Teachers put in extra hours grading homework assignments, attending meetings and helping with extracurricular activities. It’s a job with long hours and can be high stress, but ultimately is very rewarding.
Becoming an Elementary School Teacher
Each state lists and maintains its own pathway to certification and licensure for teachers. The minimum requirements set by the federal government include the completion of a bachelor’s degree program in early childhood education, as well as a student teaching internship. Your state will also have certification testing you’ll need to pass, as well as potential other educational requirements and steps you must take.
Elementary teachers can expect to make, on average, around $54,550 annually, based on numbers provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While available jobs depend largely on the needs of a given region, the field is expected to grow by roughly 6% throughout the next decade, with larger growth projected in urban and rural districts.
If you think becoming an elementary school teacher is a good path for you, check out your state requirements and learn today what you need to do, to get started.