Do you love the idea of teaching young children fundamental life and learning skills in a structured and creative play environment? If so, then being a kindergarten teacher might be the perfect job for you.
Teaching a kindergarten class is a job that’s both ultimately rewarding and at the same time challenging, requiring all kindergarten teachers to have a passion for what they do. Discover the job duties, responsibilities and requirements to get certified as a kindergarten teacher in your state and why this might be a great job for you.
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The Job of a Kindergarten Teacher
A kindergarten teacher is, for many kids, their first exposure to formalized school. They work with children between the ages of four and six, and help with their emotional, social, physical and academic formative development. Since play is the job of children, many of the skills kids learn in kindergarten are through formalized play groups.
In this year of school, children learn things like cooperation, sharing, interpersonal interactions and social norms of behavior. Teaching at this level is very hands-on and consists of lessons like arts and crafts, pretend and play exercises, musical instruments, building blocks and other collaborative activities. Kids look to their teachers as an authority figure and guide to how they should present themselves in life.
Responsibilities and Skills Required
Kindergarten teachers must be empathetic towards the needs of young children. Since kids are easily frustrated and confused at this age, they must also be exceptionally patient and adaptable. Some children learn better in large groups; others in one-on-one situations or small groups. Lesson plans must be adapted to meet these learning needs.
Communication skills are paramount, not just to instruct children, but to deal with school meetings that involve staff, administration, other teachers and parents. Creativity is also paramount, as it’s the core of learning for young children. As a teacher, you must be able to impart concepts such as counting, basic reading and writing, colors, personal hygiene, social skills, self-image and appropriate behavior in varying situations.
A kindergarten teacher must also be able to recognize the signs of early social or learning difficulties from problems like autism and ADHD to signs of trauma and abuse. When they see these things, they need to have a knowledge and ability to intervene and consult the proper resources. As a teacher, you are responsible for the safety and well-being of the children in your care.
Kindergarten Teacher Certification
Like any other teacher, kindergarten teachers are certified and licensed to teach in their institution and state. The requirements to gain licensure vary based on the individual state, but at minimum they require education in the form of a bachelor’s or master’s degree, as well as practical teaching experience gained through a student teaching internship. You will also need to acquire clearances from the government enabling you to work with children, and in all likelihood successfully complete certification exams.
The path is worth it, however, as the job is very rewarding. Kindergarten teachers earn a median national wage of $54,550 annually, according to numbers issued by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. To learn more about teaching and licensure, find your state on our site and read more about the pathway to becoming an educator!