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.