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What Are the Requirements of an Early Childhood Development Teacher?

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Early childhood development teachers play an important part in establishing the foundation for a child's educational future. Requirements for these teachers have changed over the years in keeping with the changing needs and learning styles of children. Research from studies (see References), show that preschools and children are better served by educators that meet certain criteria.


Early childhood development teachers need to have at least an associate's degree in preschool education. This can be attained at the community college level. A bachelor's degree is necessary to be the lead teacher or the director of a preschool. A state license is also required.


Most early childhood education programs include some form of internship or period of practice teaching. This gives the prospective teacher first-hand experience working with children ages 3-5. This training is essential for new teachers as they enter the classroom for the first time.


Working with preschool-age children requires that a person be very patient as well as easily adaptable to change. Children at this age are constantly changing and growing, physically and mentally. It can be daunting on the teacher to keep up with demands of children at this developmental stage. It is essential that educators be able to multitask and handle an potentially stressful environment.

Special Certifications/Skills

To work in a specialized area of early childhood development, such as a behavioral or speech interventionist, a teacher will have to get an additional endorsement. This usually requires an additional year of coursework and includes on-the-job training.

Continuing Education

To keep their license current, early childhood development teachers are required to earn additional college credits or attend workshops applicable to their field of employment. These can include classes on using technology in the classroom, implementing positive behavior or using different teaching methods to help struggling students. This keeps teachers updated on the latest trends and research in early childhood education.


Karen Hollowell has been teaching since 1994. She has taught English/literature and social studies in grades 7-12 and taught kindergarten for nine years. She currently teaches fourth grade reading/language and social studies. Hollowell earned her Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Mississippi and her Master of Arts in elementary education from Alcorn State University.

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