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.