What Should You Look For In A Preschool Teacher?

Posted on: 28 June 2016

Your 3-year-old is ready for preschool. You don't want just any 'school', but aren't exactly sure what to look for. Along with a stand-out curriculum, your child's potential school should have a qualified staff. Why? The better prepared early childhood educators are, the better children do in school, according to the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).

What makes a pre-kindergarten teacher the best choice to help your little learner grow and develop?

A degree. Most states have licensing laws that require pre-K staff to have a specific educational level before working in a classroom. This varies from a Child Development Associate credential or 2-year associate degree to a bachelor's degree or higher. Keep in mind, not all degrees are equal. Obviously, the higher the degree, the more education and training the teacher has. But, the focus of the degree is what makes the education effective. A qualified pre-K teacher likely has at least a college degree in early childhood education, child development, instruction and learning or a similar discipline.

Experience. Yes, the degree itself is essential. But, classroom learning (when it comes to teacher preparation) isn't the only part of teacher education. While there's no magic number that equals the 'just right' amount of experience, the teacher should have worked with young children in an early learning setting. Supervised student teaching experience or a supervised internship in a pre-K center also counts towards this requirement.

Shared beliefs. You use time-outs at home as a discipline technique. Is your child's teacher on-board? Sharing the same (or similar) beliefs about discipline, learning, development and communication is key to making your child's life consistent.

Communication. Keeping an open line of communication between teachers and parents is necessary for a successful preschool experience. Qualified early childhood educators should know this and understand how to use effective communication strategies. This may include talking to parents at drop-off or pick-up, sending home a weekly newsletter (or emailing one), making individual calls to parents to update them on progress or having regular parent-teacher conferences.

Cultural understanding. Every child is an individual. Along with this comes understanding where the child comes from, what their family life is like and what cultural beliefs/values are important to them. Quality pre-K educators should make themselves aware of the child's culture and show sensitivity to it. This includes including cultural understanding in the child's daily school life and adapting teaching methods to fit.

The qualified preschool teacher turns early education into much more than simple daytime care. Along with educational/knowledge-based and experiential requirements, your child's teacher should come to the classroom with a sense of caring, a deep love of learning and the creativity to make your preschooler's day more than just play. Contact a preschool like North End Montessori School for more information.