Teaching in the primary setting is a challenging task. Elementary teachers must not only impart basic academic content, but also teach their impressionable pupils how to go about learning and working productively within a school setting. Because of the young age and lack of educational experience of their students, elementary teachers face challenges that are different from those of educators who work with older pupils.
Varied School Readiness
Elementary pupils enter school with varying degrees of school readiness, presenting a challenge to educators who must accommodate this diverse array of abilities. Some parents work with their children before they head off to school, teaching them the basics of the alphabet and simple counting skills. Other children do not receive this preschool training. Primary teachers must not only determine how much each student knows, but they must also create lessons that are accessible and educational for all students, regardless of the pupil's current skill set.
For some elementary students, these formative educational years are the first time they have had to work cooperatively with peers. Students who have not had much experience working with peers often struggle with basic socialisation skills, such as sharing. The students must not only learn the academic lessons that the teacher is trying to impart, but also how to work effectively with other children.
Young pupils often struggle to maintain the focus necessary to learn in a formal classroom setting. Elementary teachers must be cognizant of their students' attention struggles and create lessons that are both engaging and short enough to maintain student attention. Teachers must also allow for adequate down time for their young pupils to ensure that the tots do not become overwhelmed with the rigour of school.
Special Education Identification
In higher level education, most students with special education needs have already been identified and have had plans to meet their needs developed. In elementary school, these students have yet to be isolated and tested. Elementary school teachers must continually watch out for students who seem to be lagging behind their peers academically. Teachers must not only identify these students, but also refer them for special education testing and assist in the development of plans to enable them to learn the requisite content material.
Literacy and Numeracy Development
In primary school, teachers provide their students with rudimentary education in literacy and numeracy. Along with learning the names of letters and numbers, students begin to learn how letters combine to form words and how numbers are used in basic arithmetic processes. Because all other skills will rest upon these basic building blocks, teachers must work carefully to ensure that their pupils pick up these essential concepts. Failure to do so could result in the pupil struggling academically later in life.