The requirements to become a kindergarten teacher can vary tremendously. In the US and Canada, most public schools will not consider hiring people unless they are credentialed and have completed a bachelor’s degree in education or early childhood education. Each state and province in Canada and the US can have different requirements too, and the length of time it takes to get appropriate training and licensing is usually between 4-5 years of full time schoolwork. Sometimes schools offer a single program that will allow credentialing at its termination, and other times, students get their bachelor’s degree and then participate in a separate credentialing program.
In certain states, there may be different levels of credentials, which might affect pay. A few schools with very rigid standards may only consider job applicants who have a master’s degree in early childhood education or elementary education. On the other hand, some schools are not as excited about hiring a teacher who possesses a master’s degree because this will mean they will have to pay that teacher more money, as is usually determined by local or state teacher’s unions.
The matter changes completely if a person wants to become a kindergarten teacher at a private school. Each private school has its own standards on degree of education needed for hiring. Some schools hire only credentialed teachers, and others may find a kindergarten teacher without a college degree completely acceptable. Schools with very specific teaching methodology, like Waldorf schools, might ask teachers to undergo Waldorf training before employing them. Usually, if people want to maximize employment opportunities, their best chances are to pursue a credential in their home state or province. Check with the local or state Board of Education to determine credential requirements and make sure to attend a school that is accredited.
There have been quite a few changes to the requirements in kindergarten. People of the last few generations may remember kindergarten as a place where things were explored and there was little focus on academic learning. In many countries, this has shifted, and children may need to achieve academic mastery of certain subjects prior to proceeding to first grade. Typical requirements may now include making certain kids can read or at least can recognize and write all letters, and they may need to know some basic math skills and especially be able to read and write numbers up to 20 or 100.
Other important skills a kindergarten teacher will impart to kindergarteners include learning how to focus and pay attention, be respectful of others, and how to behave in acceptable ways in an organized class settings. Some kindergarten classes also last longer than they used to. Many states now have full-day kindergartens, which means the kindergarten teacher may work for longer hours per day.
It’s often said that it takes a very special person to be a kindergarten teacher, but really all teachers are special. However, kindergarten teachers may need a high degree of patience and they may have the most diverse students: those who already reading and have spent a few years in preschool, and those who have not spent any time in organized learning environments. There are usually no tests submitted to kids entering kindergarten, as there may be for passage onto another grade. Even the age group can be quite different, with some kindergarteners starting when they are not yet five, and others not beginning until they are six. These vast student differences can make for interesting times in a classroom as a teacher begins to implement the standards that all of these students must learn to get to first grade.
In addition to education, it’s clearly a very good idea to determine that kindergarten is the right place for a teacher. Those who do not love a bit of chaos and major differences in students are probably better suited to other grades or to another profession. It makes sense to take some time to work in a kindergarten classroom as a teacher volunteer to determine if this is the best place. Most local schools will jump at the opportunity to have a helper in class, and many kindergarten teachers are quite generous in imparting the wisdom they’ve acquired in their profession. This investigation can start early, and people in high school or the first few years of college are encouraged to volunteer and find out if becoming a kindergarten teacher is the right choice.