How Can I Become a Nursery School Teacher?

Explore a career as a nursery school teacher. Read about education and licensing requirements, salary and potential job growth to see if this is the right career choice for you. Schools offering Early Childhood Education degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Nursery School Teacher?

Nursery, or preschool, teachers help young children, ages 3 to 5, develop intellectual, social and physical skills and behaviors that prepare them for kindergarten. Nursery school teachers work with children in a variety of settings such as childcare centers, programs sponsored by religious and professional organizations, and classrooms that are part of a public school district. Many work normal teaching hours, over a traditional ten month academic year with a two month summer vacation.

Because children learn from playing and exploring their environment, a nursery school teacher works to incorporate different games and techniques to teach them about the world. Equipping children with the social skills they will need throughout school is another important goal of this profession.

The following chart gives you an overview of what you need to know about this career.

Degree Required High school diploma at minimum; associate's or bachelor's degree required for some positions
Education Field of Study Early Childhood Education
Licensure Child Development Associate certification recommended; state license or certification required for public preschool; certification in First Aid and CPR required for some jobs
Training Student teaching required for license or certification
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 7%
Average Salary (2015)* $32,500

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Education Will I Need to Become a Nursery School Teacher?

Qualifications for nursery school teachers vary by state. For instance, in some states, it may be necessary to earn a high school diploma, as well as a Child Development Associate (CDA) certification. Other states may require an early childhood education or childhood development degree.

Additionally, some nursery schools prefer to provide their own training. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that, starting in 2011, a minimum of an associate's degree was required for all Head Start teachers, which includes nursery school teachers (www.bls.gov). You can acquire the necessary education and training in community or technical colleges, some of which are transferable to 4-year universities.

What Will I Learn?

An early childhood education curriculum includes fundamental lessons on how to assess and observe children and provide a safe teaching environment. Other core classes examine curriculum planning, language and literacy, early childhood visual arts, nutrition and sociology. You may also complete courses that deal with teaching students with disabilities and math, science and social studies for young children.

If you choose a childhood development program, you'll likely take classes such as child growth and development, child health, art and family communication. Topics such as music theory, play and learning, children's literature and geography are commonly taught in the associate's degree program. Other coursework that may be helpful as a nursery school teacher include conflict management for early childhood education, cultural sensitivity, child psychology and early childhood mentoring.

What Other Qualifications Do I Need?

Nursery school teachers should possess patience, creativity and storytelling abilities. You must be able to communicate and relate to children, their parents and other educators. It's equally important that you administer firm and fair discipline whenever necessary. Other useful traits include maturity, physical stamina and enthusiasm.

What Will My Job Responsibilities Be?

In your role as a nursery school teacher, you'll assist children as they learn social, language, vocabulary and motor skills. You'll teach them to recognize letters and numbers, different shapes and colors and involve them in group art projects. Tools such as books, music, games, computers and movies may be utilized to encourage the children's skill development, reading and writing abilities. Teaching rules of conduct, proper hygiene and eating habits are other areas you'll focus on. Depending on how old the children are, you might feed them and help them on and off with their outerwear.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Of course, teachers are needed for children of all ages. If you aren't quite sure you'd like to focus on preschool education, you could choose to be a kindergarten or elementary school teacher. A bachelor's degree is required to become an elementary school teacher, and the main goal of this job is to prepare students for future schooling in basic subjects. You might also pursue a career as a childcare worker. No formal education is needed for this job, which entails caring for children when parents are unavailable, and may also include basic teaching responsibilities.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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