Thursday, 27 June 2013

The Skills Of A Preschool Teacher

Many people seem to think that a love for children is all that is needed to become a preschool teacher. That may have been true a couple of generations ago when the ranks of these teachers were mainly made up of bored women looking for a way to keep themselves occupied. Today a preschool teacher can be either male or female and while a love of children and the aptitude to understand them is needed for the job, there is so much more. Early childhood education is now a very specialized and scientific profession where preschool teachers need to have the essential qualifications in term of having attended early childhood education training programs and having earned the required diplomas and degrees. But there is more to being a preschool teacher than being qualified for the job. There are basic skills that a teacher needs to be a success and those who may be weak in some of these areas will be well advised to work on their weaknesses so that they do not fail. Remember that when a preschool teacher fails, all the students also fail, for no fault of their own.

Is This You?

If you are strong, or can develop strengths, in the following areas, you have the basic skills needed to be a good early childhood educator.
  • Are you able to communicate ideas and concepts in a simple and clear manner so that toddlers will be able to grasp them?

  • Can you speak clearly so that every word you say is understood even by the children furthest from you? If you are perceived to be shouting it will frighten the children.

  • Do you have the ability to spot a problem as soon as it develops and even better, do you have the intuition to spot things that are likely to go wrong, at least some of the time? This is not the same as solving the problem, it is a matter of recognizing that one exists

  • Children often need to be presented ideas multiple times before the concept is appreciated. Can you present the same idea in new and different ways to keep the children interested?

  • Are you able to understand, in most cases, what a child who is upset and with a limited vocabulary, is trying to communicate to you?

  • Can you look at issues from all angles so that when you are guiding a discussion or ‘show and tell’ you can present alternate viewpoints, in a simple manner, to the children?

  • Are you able to arrange information (patterns, numbers, letters, pictures etc.) in a clear but logical manner to help the children absorb the maximum input they can in a simple way?

  • Children can try your patience with their behavior, their lack of ability to understand what you are trying to convey and with their unending questions. Do you have the patience to accept this and keep on trying until you have achieved what you want to or till the child is satisfied with your answers?

  • Can you be firm without appearing to be hard and unfeeling? You will need to maintain discipline in the classroom without frightening the children or becoming remote from them.

  • Do you have an eye for detail? Children do, even if they do not fully understand what they are seeing. Even if you overlook something you should be able to see what has been left out as soon as the children point it out so you can carry on from there.

  • Early childhood education is evolving rapidly. Are you ready to do the studying you need to stay up to date on matters concerning you and the children you teach?
There is a lot more involved in being a preschool teacher. Much of it will be taught during the early childhood education training programs, but some of it requires an innate ability, which you if do not have, you can acquire.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

A Day In The Life Of A Preschool Teacher

What does a preschool teacher do? Is he/she just a kind of alternative parent who looks after the kids for a few hours each day or is there something more to it? While preschool curricula and environments vary a great deal, a look at a typical day in the life of an imaginary preschool teacher will show what a tough, complex and yet satisfying vocation this is.

The day typically begins with the kids arriving in school and gathering in schoolyard to play. The teacher will be there from the time of the first arrival to ensure that the children are safe and secure. From here everyone goes into the classroom and sits in a circle on the floor while the teacher guides them through the morning greetings and a talk about the day of the week, the month and the season. Relevant pictures are put up on the board and then a song is sung.

Now comes alphabet practice and letter recognition, followed by a song about fingers, toes, noses and other body parts here the children point to the parts they sing about. The next activity allows the children to relax a bit. Everyone sits at tables and opens a coloring book to a page with say, animals, on it. The children are encouraged to talk about the animals they will be coloring and what color they will use and why. Then the kids find objects in the room that are the same as the colors they plan to use.

After this sit down break the children wear their coats and head out to the playground. The teacher continues to supervise without getting in the way. The children are encouraged to play in teams and cooperate with one another. When the kids return to the classroom its snack time and everyone eats. The teacher may have to clean up any messes that occur. After the snacks its story time and the teacher reads them a story and follows it up by encouraging the kids to talk about the story they have heard – what they liked about it and what they didn’t.

After lunch comes nap time where the mats are pulled out, shoes taken off and everyone lies down for a nap, the teacher included because an example needs to be set. Soft music may be played. Some kids will sleep but others will be restless and fidgety and may try to get up and run around. The teacher will need to be firm but kind and ensure that they lie down and rest. If they don’t sleep, they can play quietly on their mats till its wake up time.

After nap time the mats are put away and shoes are put on. The process of putting on shoes or getting dressed after sleeping is discussed while this is going on. Backpacks are now repacked and coats are worn as the children go out to play until the parents arrive to take them home.

It’s Not All Fun and Games

As can be seen from this imaginary day, the daily schedule of a preschool teacher involves enjoying being with children, the ability to gently inculcate a sense of discipline and right and wrong and skill in encouraging the kids to use their cognitive abilities so that these keep increasing as time passes.

Being a preschool teacher or early childhood educator is not for everyone. But for those who have the aptitude and a love for children, there are few vocations that offer more in the way of satisfaction and a sense of achievement.