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How do I become a Kindergarten Teacher?

Kindergarten teachers usually need a bachelor's degree in early childhood education.
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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 14 March 2014
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The requirements to become a kindergarten teacher can vary tremendously. In the US and Canada, most public schools will not consider hiring people unless they are credentialed and have completed a bachelor’s degree in education or early childhood education. Each state and province in Canada and the US can have different requirements too, and the length of time it takes to get appropriate training and licensing is usually between 4-5 years of full time schoolwork. Sometimes schools offer a single program that will allow credentialing at its termination, and other times, students get their bachelor’s degree and then participate in a separate credentialing program.

In certain states, there may be different levels of credentials, which might affect pay. A few schools with very rigid standards may only consider job applicants who have a master’s degree in early childhood education or elementary education. On the other hand, some schools are not as excited about hiring a teacher who possesses a master’s degree because this will mean they will have to pay that teacher more money, as is usually determined by local or state teacher’s unions.

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The matter changes completely if a person wants to become a kindergarten teacher at a private school. Each private school has its own standards on degree of education needed for hiring. Some schools hire only credentialed teachers, and others may find a kindergarten teacher without a college degree completely acceptable. Schools with very specific teaching methodology, like Waldorf schools, might ask teachers to undergo Waldorf training before employing them. Usually, if people want to maximize employment opportunities, their best chances are to pursue a credential in their home state or province. Check with the local or state Board of Education to determine credential requirements and make sure to attend a school that is accredited.

There have been quite a few changes to the requirements in kindergarten. People of the last few generations may remember kindergarten as a place where things were explored and there was little focus on academic learning. In many countries, this has shifted, and children may need to achieve academic mastery of certain subjects prior to proceeding to first grade. Typical requirements may now include making certain kids can read or at least can recognize and write all letters, and they may need to know some basic math skills and especially be able to read and write numbers up to 20 or 100.

Other important skills a kindergarten teacher will impart to kindergarteners include learning how to focus and pay attention, be respectful of others, and how to behave in acceptable ways in an organized class settings. Some kindergarten classes also last longer than they used to. Many states now have full-day kindergartens, which means the kindergarten teacher may work for longer hours per day.

It’s often said that it takes a very special person to be a kindergarten teacher, but really all teachers are special. However, kindergarten teachers may need a high degree of patience and they may have the most diverse students: those who already reading and have spent a few years in preschool, and those who have not spent any time in organized learning environments. There are usually no tests submitted to kids entering kindergarten, as there may be for passage onto another grade. Even the age group can be quite different, with some kindergarteners starting when they are not yet five, and others not beginning until they are six. These vast student differences can make for interesting times in a classroom as a teacher begins to implement the standards that all of these students must learn to get to first grade.

In addition to education, it’s clearly a very good idea to determine that kindergarten is the right place for a teacher. Those who do not love a bit of chaos and major differences in students are probably better suited to other grades or to another profession. It makes sense to take some time to work in a kindergarten classroom as a teacher volunteer to determine if this is the best place. Most local schools will jump at the opportunity to have a helper in class, and many kindergarten teachers are quite generous in imparting the wisdom they’ve acquired in their profession. This investigation can start early, and people in high school or the first few years of college are encouraged to volunteer and find out if becoming a kindergarten teacher is the right choice.

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Discuss this Article

anon250149
Post 5

What is another career suggestion I should take as an actual career? I am a high school senior who just graduated.

amypollick
Post 4

@Anon95216: This is a question you need to ask your college adviser. If you get a double major in Early Childhood and in Elementary Education, you should be ready for any teaching job you're offered, and I'd honestly recommend that certification because Early Childhood limits you to that area, and it's a possibility you might have to wait for a Kindergarten job to open up, but a third grade position, for example, might be open. So ECE and Elementary Ed might be a good avenue.

As for continuing education, that's entirely up to the state where you live (if in the US). Some states require a teacher to get a masters degree in a certain number of years. They also require a certain number of continuing education units each year. It all depends on the state, and your adviser can answer this question for you. Good luck.

anon95216
Post 3

I am posting hoping to find out what I should be taking in college to become a kindergarten teacher. I am planning on taking ECE (early childhood education) but do not know if that is all I would need to take to become a kindergarten teacher or if I would need to take more schooling instead of that.

I already know that I could handle a kindergarten class because I teach kids how to swim and work with kids in a gym at a YMCA so I have worked with kids from 2 all the way up to 16 years of age.

Snoopy123
Post 2

ProudMom2- My stepmom is a kindergarten teacher and I thought she had one of the easiest jobs, until I visited her classroom. I was certain teaching was going to be my major and I thought I had what it took to teach these little kids. Then I saw how much hard work was put into her career. She was required to present her weekly lessons to the principal and then report what results she achieved. She had to create learning centers and often had to pay for supplies ‘out of pocket’ because of a low budget. In addition to educating the kids, she was trained how to recognize learning disabilities and work with them. But it must have been worth it; she just retired after 15 years of dancing and role playing in the classroom.

ProudMom2
Post 1

While getting a diploma from an accredited school qualifies a person to teach from k-8th grade, it takes practice and patience to decide which grade is right for you to teach. Being a kindergarten teacher requires more patience, not only because you have a classroom full of five and six year olds, but each lesson must be taught in a more dramatic and fun way to keep the students interested. Nothing is cuter than watching a teacher entertain these kids by dancing and role playing. They don’t realize they are learning by having fun.

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