The role of a preschool teacher is challenging; it’s a demanding profession both physically and emotionally, however it is one of the most fulfilling occupations to see children grow and develop. The teacher plays an important role in ensuring that no child starts school without the basic skills they need to succeed. To create this learning environment, a teacher has many responsibilities.
One of the most important responsibilities of a preschool teacher is to plan and prepare an environment for learning. Since most young children learn through play, it is essential to implement activities that are fun and yet teach the basic skills needed for development. In early childhood education, the teacher is aiming to fulfill the physical, emotional, intellectual, and social needs of the children in the class.
Each week a plan is devised to incorporate experiences in literary arts, pre-math, science, art, music, dramatic play, and fine and gross motor play. Along with teaching, the preschool teacher helps to teach young children how to handle their basic needs, such as feeding, bathroom needs, and provides a comfortable and nurturing environment for the children to thrive.
Even though the planning is done, a teacher needs to make sure that all children have the opportunity to experience these activities and learn according to individual needs and abilities. When the children are performing tasks and playing, make sure to watch, listen, and talk with the children during their play. This is the time to ask open-ended questions that will help extend the child's thinking skills and vocabulary. Remember to let children explore in their own way, do not give them the answers or take over the direction of an activity, but let them discover answers in their own way and time – you are being the facilitator by providing the means and encouragement.
As you watch children play and do tasks, the teacher observes to see which skills the child has mastered or skills that need additional reinforcements. These observations will help you to plan for the next day or the next week – which areas need extra time.
It is helpful to keep records of observations on each of your students. As you observe a child, jot down an anecdotal note with the date. Add these observations with a collection of the child's work and developmental checklists to arrive at a good overview of the child's strengths, needs, and interests. Keep these notes in a file for each child and this information will serve as an excellent progress report when you meet with parents.
Be a Good Role Model
Children watch everything an adult does, so you are a role model in the eyes of your students. Social skills, such as cooperation, getting along with others, and communicating well to solve problems can be modeled through your actions and words. If you use the words "please" and "thank you" throughout the day, the children will learn how to be courteous and polite. As you clean and put toys away, you are showing the children how to keep the room neat and tidy. As you do these tasks, talk to the children about what you are doing and feeling. Modeling is a very powerful teaching technique.
Preschool children are still very young and need supervision at all times. Ensure that they are safe and provide a secure environment so the children feel comfortable. As the parents are away during school hours, these children depend on you for comfort and assurance.
Although the job of a teacher can be a lot of work, these caregivers can make an important difference in the lives of young children, so it’s a terrific job to have!
- General Responsibilities and Specific Duties of a Preschool Teacher
- Nielsen, Dianne Miller. Teaching Young Children. Corwin Press, 2006
- Photo by Moare at Morguefile.com