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What Does a Preschool Teacher Do?

When you learned your ABCs, the dedicated work of a preschool teacher was one of the reasons you grasped the concept so easily. They help children between the ages of 3 and 5 prepare for kindergarten.

They teach social, emotional and academic skills through a combination of structured learning and play. Rhyming, storytelling, music, art, dance and acting games are part of a less structured approach to teaching at this level. They also help students learn to socialize with their peers and adults. Preschool teachers plan lessons and activities to teach children basic motor and language skills.

They work at child care centers, public and private schools, and for religious and civic organizations. Some preschool teachers in public schools have the summers off, while others work year-round.

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A preschool teacher helps students learn their shapes
Successful preschool teachers possess patience, kindness and the ability to respond properly to students’ developing emotional and physical needs. (Credit: Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock)
Duties + Responsibilities
  • Ensure that children are supervised at all times
  • Establish routines and discipline
  • Build children’s self-esteem through positive guidance
  • Communicate with parents and discuss their children’s development
  • Develop activities and a curriculum that promote literacy and math concepts
  • Teach children basic skills such as colors, shapes, numbers and letters
  • Teach children how to respect people of different genders, backgrounds and cultures
  • Ensure the classroom is well-maintained and safe
Education + Training

Requirements for preschool teachers vary by state and by facility. Most jobs typically require an associate degree. For example, some federal Head Start programs require an associate degree, but public schools typically require a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education or a related field. Those with a degree in another field must have experience teaching preschool children.

Some states also require preschool teachers to obtain the Child Development Associate (CDA) credential offered by the Council for Professional Recognition. The CDA credential must be renewed every three years. Public school teachers must be licensed to teach early childhood education. Continuing education is required by most states to maintain that license.

You May Be a Good Fit for This Position If You
  • Have good patience and can respond calmly to a variety of situations
  • Are creative in your ability to inspire learning 
  • Have good communication skills 
  • Collaborate well
  • Have good organizational skills
  • Have the physical stamina to keep up with energetic young children

Preschool Teacher training in your area


Early Childhood Education Level 3 Certificate

Waubonsee Community College
Sugar Grove (0.0 Miles)

Early Childhood Education Technology, A.A.S.

Montgomery College
Rockville (0.0 Miles)

Child Development

Southern University at Shreveport
Shreveport (0.0 Miles)

Child Development, A.A.

Lassen Community College
Susanville (0.0 Miles)

Master Teacher Certificate of Achievement

San Diego City College
San Diego (0.0 Miles)

Early Childhood Education, A.A.S

Alexandria Technical and Community College
Alexandria (0.0 Miles)

Early Childhood Education, A.A.S.

Northcentral Technical College
Wausau (0.0 Miles)

State Short Early Childhood Education Certificate of Specialization - Home Visitor/Family

Pierce College - Puyallup
Lakewood (0.0 Miles)

Infant/Toddler Certificate

Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute
Hudson (0.0 Miles)

Early Childhood Education: Emphasis in Infant/Toddler Care Certificate

Davidson County Community College
Thomasville (0.0 Miles)

Before and After School Care Certificate

Moraine Valley Community College
Palos Hills (0.0 Miles)

Early Childhood Education Child Care, A.S.

Bristol Community College
Fall River (0.0 Miles)
Meet Ambassador
Meredith Lipman
Meredith Lipman, preschool teacher ambassador, plays with students Amber and Robbie
Meet Ambassador
Meredith Lipman

Meredith Lipman was always toying with the idea of becoming a teacher — she just wasn't sure how. But after she got a degree in ASL-English Interpreting, her path became clear.

Now she's the lead preschool teacher at Atlanta Area School for the Deaf, teaching 3- to 5-year-olds who are all deaf or hard-of-hearing.

"Every activity is a moment they can learn language," says Meredith. "It is my job to make learning language fun through play."

She loves how she can incorporate her creativity into everything she does. 

"The sky's the limit! I have such freedom in my job to create the environment I want. I can’t say I’d have the same freedom in other professions, which made this line of work so attractive to me."

The biggest misconception about her job? That teachers only teach. In fact, they do so much more — from parental support to consulting and content creation and beyond.

"I'm all heart — I needed a profession that was too," says Meredith, who says despite the obstacles and preconceived notions, she has "zero regret about choosing this profession." 

Find Preschool Teacher Jobs in Your Area


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