What Do You Have to Take in College to Be a Kindergarten Teacher?

by Stephany Elsworth

    Kindergarten teachers work with children who are beginning their first year of school. They prepare students for their future educational careers by teaching them appropriate classroom behavior, building upon their social skills, and guiding their instructional activities. Teachers who work with kindergarten students have a bachelor's or a master's degree, as well as state teacher certification.

    Core Curriculum

    College coursework for a kindergarten teacher depends largely upon where the teacher attends college. In California and Texas, for instance, teaching candidates must earn a bachelor's degree in any subject area before working toward their teaching credentials. Regardless of the major, the first two years of college are usually spent completing general education credits and taking electives that will apply towards the bachelor's program. These core curriculum classes usually consist of basic English, math, writing, science, social studies, fine arts and humanities coursework. Future teachers may choose to complete these studies at the community college level.

    Bachelor's Degree Coursework

    Teachers who want to teach kindergarten can pursue either early childhood or elementary certification. Teachers who earn an early childhood certification are eligible to teach pre-kindergarten through second or third grade, while an elementary certification allows teachers to instruct children from kindergarten to grades 4 to 6, depending on the state. Teachers who complete elementary certification coursework take classes in the theory and practice of teaching math, science, social studies and reading, as well as coursework in curriculum and instruction. They also take classes in educational psychology, technology and leadership. Early childhood majors take many of the same classes, as well as coursework that is specific to early childhood education such as early childhood developmental theories. All potential kindergarten teachers must spend at least a semester student teaching under the guidance of a college supervisor and an experienced teacher before they can graduate and obtain a teaching license.

    Master's Degree

    Many kindergarten teachers continue their education by pursuing a master's degree in early childhood or elementary education. Graduate students who are studying for a master's degree in early childhood education take classes such as social and cognitive development, child growth and development, language and literacy studies, developmental disabilities and educational psychology. Teachers who are pursuing a degree in elementary education might take courses such as science-based inquiry, how to reach diverse learners, literacy assessment and instruction or math instruction. Most teachers also complete a practicum or thesis as part of their graduate study requirements.

    Alternative Certification

    Individuals who have a bachelor's degree can enter the teaching field through alternative certification in many states. This allows them to enter a classroom and begin teaching while taking coursework to obtain full teacher certification. Most states have specific entrance requirements. North Carolina, for example, requires potential teachers to have earned a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university with at least a 2.8 grade point average. Applicants must receive an adequate score on a basic skills test and pass a screening interview before acceptance in the Coalition for Transition to Teaching Program. Once accepted into the program, teachers take coursework in areas such as cognitive development, teaching methodologies, assessments, classroom management and technology.

    About the Author

    Currently a Title I teacher, Stephany Elsworth has been a writer since 1995. Her work has appeared in "Child Life" and "Boys' Life," as well as online publications. Elsworth holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in fine arts/curriculum and instruction from Texas State University and a Master of Education in reading education from Grand Canyon University.

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