Day care teachers, also known as child care or preschool teachers, help young students, typically aged 3 to 5, learn important social and problem-solving skills. They teach students how to share, compromise, listen and follow directions and help students further develop their fine and gross motor skills. Day care educators also teach basic academic concepts that help children prepare for kindergarten. As a day care teacher, you must have strong organizational skills and effective classroom management techniques.
Day care teachers oversee daily activities and ensure children engage in safe, active, productive play. You might teach important hygiene habits and help students learn to perform basic tasks, such as tying their shoes and cleaning up after themselves. It's your job to supervise group interactions, indoor activities, outdoor play, lunch time, snack time, arts and crafts, academic learning stations and nap times. The ability to clearly communicate what you want students to do, correct unwanted behavior and manage daily activities are top job skills.
Lesson Plan Preparation
Child care teachers have more responsibilities than general day care workers because they must develop and present lessons to help preschool students with their language, math and writing skills. For example, you might help children practice the alphabet, learn how to count, write their names, learn to color within the lines and sound out words using phonics. Or, you might teach them general concepts in social studies or science, such as how to conduct a simple experiment or examine the globe. Day care teachers use storybooks, manipulatives, games, toys, computer programs and web videos to help preschoolers learn important concepts. The job requires you to present information in clear, understandable ways and patiently help these young students grasp new concepts.
Frequent communication with parents and guardians can help you create a comfortable, unified day care environment. Parents want assurance that their child is progressing according to expectations for her age, so progress reports and regular updates keep parents aware of any concerns. Day care students have short attention spans, so they aren't always reliable when it comes to relaying important information to their parents. You must create interesting and informative weekly newsletters and host one-on-one parent conferences. Strong communication skills also come in handy when you discuss student progress reports and curriculum developments with the day care director. You want to make sure that you and the director are on the same page concerning curriculum requirements and student expectations.
Education, training and certifications for day care teachers vary by state and by the job responsibilities. Most employers prefer to hire teachers who have a minimum of a high school diploma, certification in early childhood education or a degree in early childhood education. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2012, most day care centers require teachers to pass background checks and obtain certifications in CPR and first aid. Some states require teachers to obtain the Child Care Professional (CCP) designation offered by the National Early Childhood Program Accreditation or the Child Development Associate certification offered by the Council for Professional Recognition.