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Preschool Teacher Education

Like most other teachers, preschool teachers are licensed by each state. And as with teachers at other levels, the requirements can vary somewhat from place to place. This article discusses preschool teacher education requirements.

Preschool Teacher Education Coursework

Generally speaking, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, training requirements for preschool teachers are set by each of the states and the District of Columbia. The minimum requirement is a high school diploma, while others may require a college degree. Preschool special education teachers, on the other hand, require a bachelor’s degree at minimum, and in some states, a master’s degree.

Part of the difference in requirements can come from the demands of different circumstances. For example, in general a prekindergarten program for four-year-olds is likely to have separate funding, and therefore may have more stringent education requirements for teachers. Head Start programs, which must meet Federal teacher standards, will require at least an associates degree by 2011.

But in addition to this, states may have varied rules simply because fifty different groups considering the same issue are apt to see it in slightly different ways. It’s hard to point to a typical set of requirements, but here’s one example that can supply some idea of the program of study for a preschool teacher. In New York State, an individual applying for an initial license as a preschool teacher must have completed a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education (Birth - Grade 2) with a grade point average minimum of 2.5. Thirty semester hours are required in the Liberal Arts and Sciences in the areas of:

  • artistic expression
  • communication
  • information retrieval
  • humanities
  • language other than English (including American Sign Language (ASL)
  • written analysis and expression
  • concepts in historical and social sciences
  • scientific processes
  • mathematical processes

Also, the candidate must complete 21 semester hours in pedagogy, including study of:

  • child development
  • human development and learning
  • teaching students with disabilities & and special health-care needs
  • teaching literacy skills methods
  • curriculum, instruction, and assessment
  • foundations of education

In addition, a 40-day student teaching experience is required, and several certification exams and workshops on child abuse identification and school violence intervention and prevention.

The preschool special education teacher requirements in New York State include all the requirements for a classroom teacher, plus 12 additional semester hours in:

  • foundations of special education
  • assessment, diagnosis and evaluation of students with disabilities
  • curriculum and instruction for students with disabilities
  • managing the environment for students with disabilities

In addition, an extra workshop focusing on autism is required.

Preschool Teacher Education Institution Accreditation

States may require that teacher candidates attend a teacher education program that is approved either by the commissioner of education or by a regional accrediting agency. Overall, the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and Teacher Education Accreditation Council, Accreditation Committee (TEAC) are specialized accrediting agencies for teacher education programs. These two organizations are recognized by both the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) and the U.S. Department of Education (USDE). In addition, there are national accreditation organizations specially focused on early childhood programs. These include accreditation for particular preschool philosophies. These specialized organizations include:

  • Accredited Professional Preschool Learning Environment (APPLE)
  • American Montessori Society (AMS)
  • Association of Christian Schools International
  • Council on Accreditation (COA)
  • National Accreditation Commission for Early Care and Education Programs (NAC)
  • National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC)
  • National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Academy for Early Childhood Program Accreditation
  • National Early Childhood Program Accreditation (NECPA)
  • National Lutheran School Accreditation (NLSA)

Choosing an accredited program that is recognized in the state in which one wants to teach is an essential step for would-be teachers.