What Are the Requirements to Teach in an Elementary School?

To become an elementary teacher, you'll need to take a program heavy in education and child development courses and obtain state teaching licensure. Explore these requirements in greater depth, and also learn about voluntary certification for elementary school teachers. Schools offering Elementary Education degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Degree Do I Need to Teach Elementary Education?

A bachelor's degree is the typical requirement to teach public elementary school students in most states. Many schools offer programs specifically in elementary education. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) encourages you to have good communication skills and patience to cope with potentially unruly and unmotivated students. To gain these skills, you'll take courses on human development and education in an elementary education program. Programs are available on campus and online.

Degree Requirements Bachelor's degree in elementary education
Common Course Topics Education methodologies, child psychology, children's literature, literacy, classroom diversity
Licensure Expectations Each state has individual licensing requirements, but generally you'll have to pass a number of competency exams and complete a portfolio
Other Credentials The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards offers voluntary credentialing

What Will I Learn?

Elementary education programs blend courses on child development with those on education methodologies. While learning how to incorporate technology and recreation into your curriculum, you'll also hone various teaching techniques. You'll learn the techniques used to manage classrooms as well as exploring ways for young children to develop good study practices.

You'll study special topics in child psychology, family studies, classroom diversity and literacy. To promote reading and writing skills, you'll use children's literature in the classroom. You'll also spend time on assessment and measurement. These skills are important in recognizing learning disabilities and discovering children's strengths and weaknesses. Along with teaching courses, you'll study a variety of subjects that children learn in elementary school, including math, science, art, music and history.

How Do I Pursue Licensure?

The BLS explains that most states have specific licensure for elementary education, middle education and secondary education. Each state has individual requirements for state licensure and refers to this process as licensure, certification or credentialing. Many colleges provide students with information regarding their state's requirements. Check with your board of education to find out specifically what you'll need.

While each state has different requirements, most assessment processes are similar. You'll be expected to complete a subject-competency exam. You'll also provide the board with a portfolio, which might include videos of you teaching along with samples of student work done in your student teaching classes. Some states also require journals and lesson plans to be kept as part of your portfolio.

Alternative licenses may be awarded to teachers who are willing to work in schools with a high concentration of children from low-income families. These licenses are usually temporary, but they allow you to teach in a high-needs school before you earn your permanent license. This is also an option for you if your state requires you to have a master's degree after some time teaching.

Are There Additional Credentials?

Voluntary certification is available through the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS). This organization offers a national generalist certification for early childhood educators. The certification is valid for ten years and shows prospective employers that you uphold the NBPTS standards for teachers. The assessment is made up of two parts: a portfolio that includes video demonstrations of you teaching, and an exam that covers the subject matter you'll teach.

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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