Being a teacher is fun, always changing, and definitely a challenge. however, there are a few things about preschool teaching that is different than other types of teaching. For one, you are usually teaching a variety of ages, from 2 years to 5 years. This can make planning lessons difficult as you have to make it fun, interesting, and challenging for all age groups. Another thing that differs is that preschools generally aren't part of the school system (as K-12 is) and therefore the curriculum is pretty much up to the teacher's choice. That being said, here are a few things to consider if you want to get into preschool teaching.
While children at this age are pretty much sponges for learning new things, it is important that you have reasonable expectations for each child in your class. For example, some children at the preschool age will not get have mastered the art of patience or concentration, meaning that you have to structure your lessons accordingly to avoid either too much lag time between activities, or too lengthy of an activity.
Positive reinforcement is a definite must-have tool when teaching in a preschool environment. It is important that children of this age feel like their accomplishments mean something; otherwise they may become discouraged from trying new things. Always be ready to reward an accomplishment or good behavior with a kind word or some other type of treat (like being able to choose the next activity, or being the teacher's ""helper"" for the rest of the day). By associating a task with the reward, such as selecting a craft or book, the child also is given a sense of responsibility, which in turn encourages others in the class to work eagerly for the same reward.
A great way to keep kids interested in the curriculum is to choose a theme each week. Themes help children make a connection between each lesson and see how it all works as part of a larger scheme. With themes you can explore an idea more in depth over several days instead of trying to cram it all into one lesson. Here is an example of a theme laid out for a single day (the theme is Dinosaurs):
- Introduce the theme – what are dinosaurs, where did they live, what happened to them. Use broad strokes, as in following days you can discuss types of dinosaurs, what they ate, and what extinction means.
- Read a book about the theme – it can be fiction or non-fiction, something to keep them interested in the theme. Vary the types of books and content from day to day.
- Do a craft – make dinosaurs, color dinosaurs, paint dinosaurs, etc. There are great resources on the web for craft ideas. Do something different every day.
- Incorporate the theme into regular learning – dinosaur starts with ""D"", what sound does ""D"" make? Count dinosaurs, find out what color dinosaurs were, etc.
- Get active – make up a game that uses the theme. Play dinosaur tag, guess the dinosaur, etc.
With these three keys in mind you can become a successful preschool teacher and enjoy many years of teaching young ones and get them ready to love learning. Remember that there are always new ideas out there waiting to be discovered, and your kids can make these discoveries with you.
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