In an article written by Shara Lawrence Weiss, she discusses the many qualities of an early childhood educator. Shara provides a list of questions one should ask when deciding if they want to enter the field of early childhood education. It is clear that Shara is a huge advocate for excellence in early childhood education and I appreciated her article.
Shara's post got me thinking about my path in early childhood education which I wanted to take just a moment and share a few highlights with you...
My first experience teaching young children was at age 14. I was thrown into a 3 to 5 year old preschool Vacation Bible School classroom because no one else wanted the job. So I took it on. The church was located in the inner city of Houston, Texas and on the first day of class, only one child that came knew how to speak English. The rest of the children were Laotian or Hispanic and I loved it. I couldn't spell anyone's name correctly or speak a word of their language but there was no question to these kids that I had immediately fallen in love with every one of them. And I knew that they had fallen in love with me. At the end of the two-week class, I had 64 preschoolers, attending my class. I know this is hard to believe - but believe it! My mom reads my blog so she will tell you when I am fudging:)
I think back on my first experience in preschool and despite the language barrier, despite my lack of early childhood education, and despite the fact there was a ratio of 1 teacher to every 20 preschoolers, I was madly in love with my students. I partnered up with a couple of missionaries and continued to teach the kids, while the missionaries worked with their parents, each week until I moved away from Houston at age 16.
After moving to Indiana, I taught, directed, and wrote curriculum for a childcare center here in Indianapolis. I didn't go to college until years later. Now I have an associate degree in ECE, a bachelor degree in Human Services and Management, and a master degree in ECE.
But you need to know that my beliefs and practices in early childhood education are firmly rooted in what I learned during those early years of experience. College has given me new tools and understanding of education in the early childhood field but college didn't make me a good teacher. I became a good teacher (and I admit that I think I am a good teacher) by investing my time in the classroom.
Do you want to teach preschool?
Let me encourage you to read Shara's article so you can see what you will be getting yourself into but then let me encourage you to just get started.
- Teaching preschool is not an easy job but it is one of the most rewarding careers one can have.
- Teaching preschool requires skill, passion, and a genuine concern for the best interest of the children in your care.
- Teaching preschool demands your time, attention, and creativity.
- Teaching preschool is about bonding with children, loving children, and helping children develop a love for learning.