How to become a nursery school teacher

Updated November 21, 2016

Nursery school teachers work with young children at one of the most critical times for learning. Learning solid basic academic skills and vital socialisation skills sets a child up for success in school and in life. Nursery teachers are responsible for teaching these skills in a way that is lively, engaging and that feeds a child's natural curiosity for learning. While every state and setting can have different requirements, there are some fundamentals you can follow when pursuing a career as a nursery schoolteacher.

Contact your state board of education or licensing or visit their website to find out what the educational requirements are for your area and for the type of school you want to work in. New York State, for example, requires all teachers in state-registered nursery schools to have either a bachelor's degree in early childhood education or a combination of postsecondary education and experience. All states mandate that nursery school teachers have at least a high school diploma, and some schools have no official requirement beyond that.

Attend the classes and/or degree program required by your state at an accredited learning institution. Most nursery school teachers major in early childhood education, child development, early elementary education or early childhood special education. Look for schools that give you teaching experience as a student teacher.

Take and pass the exam for the Child Development Associate (CDA) credential offered by the Council for Professional Recognition. You do not need to have a college degree to take this. Many states require this credential as a prerequisite for a teaching license.

Get your state teaching certification or license, if required by your state. Many state-funded pre-K programs require that a teacher be licensed or certified.

Check with local nursery schools to see if there are any additional credentials schools in your area are looking for, such as teachers who are bilingual or are certified in computer skills. Get the additional training necessary to meet these requirements.

Offer to intern, substitute teach or work as a teacher's assistant at a local school if you do not have teaching experience. Quality schools want teachers who have worked with children in a teaching environment and have demonstrated they can handle a classroom of children. You may be able to move up into a full-time teaching position with the school you have worked with.

Keep abreast of current issues and new teaching methods in early childhood education so you can continue to grow as a teacher. A great deal of research is taking place in early child development and education that affects how teachers can teach most effectively.

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