A prospective kindergarten teacher can take one of two tracks to earning her bachelor’s degree. She can take courses leading to certification in elementary education and focus on courses emphasizing early childhood education. Alternatively, she can major in early childhood education. In most colleges, this major prepares graduates to work with students through the third grade. Any classes should follow guidelines established by the state where the student intends to obtain her teaching license.
Freshman and Sophomore Classes
A prospective kindergarten teacher takes the same liberal arts core classes required of all majors at her university. This includes classes in English, history, science, mathematics and fine arts. Computer classes and foreign languages are often part of these core classes as well. Depending on the university, some classes might have prerequisites for the elementary education or early childhood education major. Schools often require education majors to have a minimal grade point average, or GPA, at the end of their sophomore year before they can apply to take courses from the university’s college of education. For example, Florida Atlantic University applicants must have a GPA of 2.5 on a scale of 4.0 to apply for that school’s college of education.
Elementary Education Track
Prospective kindergarten teachers who select this option take a number of methods courses for each of the core curriculum subjects. This includes several courses to help them teach reading to their young pupils. These students also take classes in special subjects they might teach during the school day, such as art, music and physical education. Students choosing this track take the same general teacher-preparation courses as other education majors, including educational psychology, history of education and applied educational technology.
Early Childhood Track
Many of the courses for early childhood education overlap with the elementary education track. The early childhood track varies in the methods courses. While the elementary education majors take courses designed to teach the core classes from kindergarten through grade eight, the methods classes for early childhood focus on pre-kindergarten through grade three. These courses place heavy emphasis on learning strategies for beginning readers and for language development. Special courses also focus on introducing mathematical concepts to young learners.
The prospective kindergarten teacher typically spends her final semester of college in a classroom, student teaching. She has a cooperating teacher who supervises her activities as she prepares lessons and delivers them. During this semester, the student teacher creates classroom learning centers, works with students individually and in larger groups, communicates with parents, interacts with other teachers in the school and performs other tasks required of teachers in the school district. Depending on the school, the student teacher may spend the entire time with a kindergarten class, or she might spend part of the semester working with students in the primary grades.