National Preschool Teachers Appreciation Day
Today we celebrate preschool teachers, who spend their days nurturing and sparking the creative minds of young children. The role of preschool teachers is particularly crucial because they teach children who are going through their most important and formative learning stages. High-quality preschool teachers can also play a large role in helping to even the playing field between disadvantaged students and other students. Today's holiday takes place during Preschool Education Month.
Preschool teachers teach students between the ages of 3 and 5. They generally need at least a high school diploma as well as a certification in early childhood education to become teachers, but more education is often required. Teachers in Head Start need at least an associate's degree. In public schools, a bachelor's degree is required, as is a certificate in early childhood education or a related field. Preschools may be a half day or a full day, and there is debate over the best methods of teaching. For example, some believe preschool classrooms should be more formal and content-based, while others believe they should be more about child-driven exploration and play.
A typical school day for a preschool teacher may start by greeting students and parents in order to get students acclimated to the classroom for the day. Leading an instructional circle time or storytime is usually a part of every preschool teacher's day. During a storytime, students may learn both language and vocabulary skills, as well as proper classroom behavior. Teachers guide students when they work on projects together or play. When students get into disagreements, teachers facilitate discussions between students. Naps are often a part of the day, and teachers may need to help students who are having a hard time resting. After students leave for the day, preschool teachers may plan activities for the next day. These are just a few of the many roles that preschool teachers take on throughout the day. Students require much care and attention, and a classroom is created where many skills can be explored.
Goals of what skills preschool students should learn may be both broad and specific. Some broad skills that students should gain throughout their time in preschool include developing motor skills and social skills, and learning about their environment, how to communicate and express themselves, how to share and follow rules, hygiene basics, and cultural values. Learning their full name, address, telephone number, parent or guardian's name, and the names of the weeks and months are all specific skills preschool children should learn. Additionally, they may learn some basics of writing such as what the letters of the alphabet are, how to trace them, and how to write their name. They may learn basic math skills such as shapes, counting, and how to trace numbers. Science skills acquired will often include learning the names of some animals and the seasons. Social studies knowledge acquired may include learning the names of places they often visit as well as the names of common jobs in the community. Preschool students may also participate in arts and crafts, where they learn colors, how to use their imagination with projects, how to paint and draw, and what some instruments sound and look like.
Preschools got their start in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries in Europe. In the United States, most preschools have tuition, but there has been an increase in public funding for them in recent decades, and many people are in favor of universal preschool, where funds are available for everyone to attend, just as they are with primary education. Some states have already implemented universal preschool.
Created in 1965, Head Start was the first publicly funded preschool in the United States, and was established to assist low-income children enrollment. At the time, only 10% of preschool-aged children were in preschool. By the 1980s, states began subsidizing preschools for low-income families. By the mid-2000s, almost 70% of 4-year-olds were enrolled in preschool. This increase can be attributed to higher maternal employment rates, national anti-poverty initiatives, and the spreading of research about the brain development of small children. Behind every preschool classroom, and helping every preschool student, is a preschool teacher. Today we honor them for their commitment to the mental growth and success of young children.
National Preschool Teachers Appreciation Day is observed next on Friday, March 20th, 2020. It has always been observed the third Friday in March.
How to Observe
Do you have a child or grandchild in preschool? Today is a great day to let their teacher know you appreciate all they do for them. Perhaps you could even have your child or grandchild make something for their teacher, or have them bring a gift to their school to give to their teacher. Do you remember your preschool teacher? Why not reach out to them and thank them for helping to make you the person you are today? Have you been thinking about becoming a preschool teacher? Today is the perfect day to see what certifications are needed in your state and to start your way on the journey to becoming one!
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