My Education: BA in Psychology, Hartwick College
My Prior Experience: I worked as a children's service worker for the State of Connecticut Department of Children and Families for 10 years. I took some time off to raise my children and then returned to the work force as a pre-school teacher's assistant.
My Company: I work for a pre-school program that provides care for children from 4 weeks to 6 years of age. We have extended the hours to accommodate working parents and offer before and after Kindergarten programs.
Job/Career Overview: My primary responsibility is to provide a safe, loving and stimulating environment where children come to learn, thrive and grow in every area of development. I have been employed at the Pre-school for 9 years. I have spent the majority of the past 5 year in the Toddler room caring for children ages 15 months to 2 years 9 months.
This can be a challenging age as children at this stage of development typically have separation issues initially. Once they come to trust their surroundings and their teachers they get such joy exploring all the areas of the classroom. The classroom is carefully designed to encourage exploration and development in such areas as gross and fine motor, imaginary play, sensory motor, cognitive and social development to name a few.
The emphasis is learning through play, which is what children do best...and which is developmentally appropriate for this age group. We spend the morning interacting with the children, helping them learn to share and take turns, playing with them and encouraging appropriate pro-social behavior.
At this age, the children's language is just beginning to develop which can add another challenge to the job; however it is amazing how well children can make their needs known prior to language acquisition, and it is truly amazing to watch as language development explodes in this population.
We use music and poems a lot and we follow a set routine so the children become familiar and comfortable with transitions times. A typical day would progress as follows: free play, clean up, hand washing, snack and story, more free play and outside time.
I work with the preschoolers in the afternoon in a Kindergarten readiness program and the routine is similar however there is a bit more structure and group time incorporated as well.
I rate this career 9 out of 10.
I love my job. The best part about it is watching the incredible growth that occurs in children in the pre-school years. They are pure and wholesome and so excited to learn and try new things. They say the funniest things and they are so proud of their accomplishments. I love the growth that is so obvious from the beginning of the year to spring time, physically, socially, and cognitively. It is wonderful to have a child feel safe with their teachers and in their environment and thrive.
I would have to say the hardest part of the job is that you need A LOT of energy to keep up with this population! They are very busy and like to explore everything! Also, prior to language development they typically become frustrated trying to express themselves and this can come out in hitting or biting etc.
If you love children and have patience and a lot of energy you will enjoy working as a pre-school teacher.
If you would like flexibility in hours to accommodate raising a family, a pre-school setting typically follows the school calendar and hours.
Spend time in a particular pre-school setting either visiting or substituting to see if the program is well run and a good fit for you.