Teaching preschool is hard. I know people cock their heads to the side and say things like ” Aww that’s so sweet!” when you tell them you teach preschool. If you are like me you have to fight rolling your eyes and saying ” You have no idea.” The thing is most people don’t know the immense amount of patience, intelligence, and skill it takes to be a great preschool teacher. We know how vital these early years are and that’s why we do it; it’s certainly not for the money. Here’s the thing, in the past year since I transitioned to being a substitute so that I could finish my graduate research, some things have really become even more clear about my chosen profession and what makes teaching easier. These 15 things make a difference. A huge difference!
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- A good understanding of developmentally appropriate practice (DAP) and child development. This is a wonderful book about child development theories that won’t leave you nodding off and here is a basic overview of DAP.
- Colleagues who care. I’ve worked at schools where I have this and ones where I haven’t. Now that I am not in the classroom daily, I miss seeing my fellow preschool teacher colleagues so I really appreciate how much this matters. Invest time in these relationships because it trickles down ( or maybe more accurately pours down) to your students.
- Great connections with parents. Need help with this? Here’s some for you!
- A diverse library of books. Books act as the basis of lessons, tools for calming upset children down, and guides for new pretend play. We have fantastic book suggestions here.
- Classrooms with quality materials. Need some advice on what to buy? Check out this list, all my favorites are on it!
- Diverse toys. Children need to see themselves as well as people who look very different than them in their classroom. As a preschool teacher, knowing I provided this gave me a sense of pride which helped me get up and ready for the next day knowing it’s not just all about letters and numbers. My job is much bigger than that! Check out this list.
- Pants with pockets. Where else are you going to put all the treasures your students hand you?
- Great hand lotion. My hands were painfully dry every winter I was teaching because I would wash them so much between helping children with toileting, wiping noses, and serving snack. This hand lotion is hands down ( pun intended) the best, my daughter’s doctor suggested it and I have never had painfully dry hands since.
- A magnet board. I can not tell you how much I used our giant magnet board. Trust me it will change your life.
- Help with lesson planning. No one can do it all and stay caught up with This Is Us. Using quality thematic units that have activities and lessons included is a must, even if they are just there for sub plans. Find my favorites here.
- Comfortable shoes. Ones that don’t make you look like you just had foot surgery. Ok this is more of a want but just because we teach little humans who get all kinds of things all over us doesn’t mean we shouldn’t want cute shoes, and yes this is for the male teachers too!
- A fitness routine. I love running because it helps me deal with stress and work through everything on my shoulders. You don’t have to run, but I urge you to work out to work through the stress of caring for all these little humans who need you to care about them, but you need to care about you too!
- Book labels. I know this one seems like an add-on but in all my years of teaching at so many different schools and child care centers, I got used to losing books I’d brought from home. Last year I got custom book labels and I didn’t lose a single book. That my friend turns this from a want to a need because books are needed in our line of work!
- A great tote bag or two. Sure you could use the freebie from an ECE conference but these are so pretty. I think this one is my favorite!
- A sense of humor. You can’t buy this but you can cultivate it. Yes, our job is hard but we get to discuss Paw Patrol, play Legos, talk to imaginary friends and tie shoes all at once, who else gets to do that and get paid? We both know it’s so much more than that but nothing will get you through the really rough days like a great sense of humor.
What preschool teacher must-haves did I miss? I am sure I missed something! Let me know in comments.