Montessori Education and Multilingualism: How Bilingualism Benefits Children at Public Montessori Schools in Houston

How to Become an Early Childhood Educator

Do you have a teacher who made an impact on your life? If so, you probably remember them for believing in you, setting you on the right path, or instilling a love for learning.

Good teachers make a difference, and early childhood education is critical. The foundations for self-esteem, social skills, and love of learning begin before the age of eight years old.

If you’re interested in having this type of influence on the young children of the world, becoming a childhood educator may be a good career choice.

Here’s a guide on how to become an early childhood educator.

What Is Early Childhood Education?

A degree in childhood education qualifies a teacher to work with young children in preschool through 3rd grade. During this stage of development, children need a safe and nurturing environment for learning.

Important areas of development include:

  • Emotional skills
  • Motor skills
  • Social skills
  • Adaptive skills 

Those studying early childhood education become well-versed in childhood learning and developmental health.

There are essential academic benchmarks for young children in the following subject areas:

  • Math
  • Reading
  • Science
  • Social studies

Each of these subjects is a standard of childhood education. Other priorities include playtime, physical activity, art, and balancing education with rest.

Early childhood educators should work closely with parents and guardians of their students and provide information regarding students’ progress.

If a career teaching children seems like the right fit for you, the first step is to find and enroll in an early childhood education program at a college or university.

Requirements for Early Childhood Education 

Most students pursuing a career in this field begin with a bachelor’s degree program. Some students start by earning an associate’s degree.

You can become a preschool teacher by enrolling in an associate’s degree program at a community college or taking online classes. To gain licensure for other grades, a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education is the standard.

Obtaining an associate’s degree can be a good way to save money while you complete the first two years of college. Earning a bachelor’s degree in this field often includes:

  • Enrolling in a teacher preparation program (state board approved)
  • Passing a required state licensure test
  • Gaining hands-on teaching experience in early childhood student teaching

After passing a state’s required licensure test, the next step is applying for a teaching certificate and looking for a position as a childhood educator.

Bachelor’s Degree Programs

If you are accepted into an early childhood education program, you will begin with courses in general education. These classes provide a solid framework for aspiring teachers.

For two years, coursework will cover the following concepts:

  • Childhood development
  • Theories of learning
  • Methods for early childhood education

Typically, students complete an internship in an actual classroom before graduation. This allows for real-world experience.

Some programs require multiple classroom experiences before graduation.

Where Can I Teach?

It’s a common misconception that preschool is the equivalent of daycare. Daycare is considered childcare without a necessary emphasis on learning. Preschool focuses on the social and cognitive development of young children.

The goal is to stimulate a young child’s imagination and curiosity. Children learn through playing with others, interacting with others, sharing toys, and taking turns.

Preschool classrooms are often lively spaces. They are usually brightly decorated with maps, student artwork, the alphabet, number tables, and other educational stimuli. 

Preschool and early childhood classes should be interactive environments that facilitate learning. Students should receive one-on-one attention. 

Low teacher-student ratios and small class sizes are particularly important for early childhood learning. Despite the growing popularity of high-quality preschools, most are still considered private schools.

The government doesn’t mandate preschool, and public preschool is not an option for all families. Evidence that a quality preschool education has a positive effect on student education has prompted some government action.

The Head Start Program provides early childhood education for children from low socio-economic households to promote healthy development.

Montessori Schools 

Montessori schools center around the Montessori method of learning. Founded by Dr. Maria Montessori, this method emphasizes the creativity, curiosity, and self-motivation of every child. The Montessori method stresses exploration and independence.

In a Montessori classroom, you may find multiple ages of young children with no distinction in educational levels. Young children learn from the older ones while the older children learn at their own pace and practice concepts they already know.

These classrooms foster independence and exploratory learning. Children have the freedom to choose what they’re interested in as they set their own pace for learning. 

Classrooms often have multiple interactive spaces dedicated to various academic areas. This includes areas for science, math, language arts, music, and art. 

Students have opportunities to work alone and collaborate with others. The teachers are highly engaged and involved, working alongside their students and guiding them in the learning process.


For many, kindergarten is considered the beginning of education. Kindergarten is part of the public education system and is subject to state law. For these reasons, kindergarten teachers must be licensed and certified.

Children start kindergarten at five or six years old. However, it’s not mandatory in every state.

Students at this age are developing at a rapid rate. Kindergarten is designed to ease the transition to elementary school.

The curriculum focuses on peer-to-peer interactions and social development. There’s a stronger emphasis on fundamental academics than there is in preschool.

Students begin learning how to spell, make simple sentences, combine colors, and add and subtract. Kindergarten lays the groundwork for elementary school and introduces concepts they will explore in academic classes over the next several years.

Early Childhood Education

During the first few years of a child’s life, they learn about themselves and the world around them. Parents are a child’s first teachers.

Parents introduce children to the concepts of how to talk, how to walk, and how to feed themselves. They begin to learn how to interact with others, how to count, and how to say the alphabet.

Early childhood education builds on these concepts. The focus is “learning through play.” Preschool teachers provide a hands-on, interactive environment where children learn how to interact with others and explore the world around them.

When you teach young children, you become a surrogate parent for the time they’re with you. You will impart lessons that will stay with them through every stage of their lives.

Young children are not the same as older students. They have different physical and emotional demands.

Preschool Programs

Many early childhood programs incorporate rest or nap time into the daily schedule. Snack time is also an essential part of the day.

Many programs use snack time as a learning opportunity for children to begin serving themselves and sharing with others. Early childhood is a period of tremendous growth and curiosity for children.

There is much debate over what should be part of an ideal preschool curriculum. One thing is certain. Teaching young children is a noble profession that requires perseverance and devotion. 

The world needs caring, compassionate, and dedicated early childhood educators. If you want a career that makes an impact in the world, this could be the ideal career for you.

Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education

If you wish to continue your education or advance in the field, you can enroll in a master’s degree program. More advanced coursework offers a deeper understanding of how children learn at each stage of development.

Students have the option of specializing in particular areas of early childhood education. A master’s degree can open new doors and offer the opportunity to work outside of the classroom, Some possible positions include:

  • Childcare director
  • Program Coordinator 
  • Education Program Specialist
  • Principal or vice-principal

More than any other education degree program, those interested in early childhood education should be patient, compassionate, and interested in education. Teaching children of any age is not an easy job.

The courses are rigorous and demanding at times. With determination, hard work, and a love of learning, pursuing a degree in early childhood education can lead to a rewarding and fulfilling career.

How to Become an Early Childhood Educator

If you’re interested in how to become an early childhood educator, you should know that it requires some time and discipline to reach this goal. You can obtain an associate’s, bachelor’s, or master’s degree in childhood education.

From classroom teachers to preschool directors to school principals, there are many career opportunities in this area of education. Above all, it requires a love of children and an understanding of the value of a quality childhood education.

If you’re interested in this field or exploring the concept of a quality Montessori education, we invite you to contact the Montessori School of Downtown to learn more. 

AUTHOR: Montessori School of Downtown

It all began over 30 years ago with two newlyweds who were passionate about education. Together, Ms. Rita, a renowned professional educator, and Mr. Hersh, a natural teacher and entrepreneur, created a child care education program that focused on the concept of self-inspired learning.View all posts by Montessori School of Downtown |