I Love Teaching: Preschool Pros Share What They Love About the Job
If you’ve ever considered a job working with little kids, you’ve probably heard some amusing anecdotes about what happens in a room full of preschool-age children. While the moments of levity that come from this setting are certainly a plus, that’s not all that keeps early childhood education (ECE) professionals coming back to work every day.
So what else do early childhood educators love about their jobs? We asked some preschool teaching professionals to share with us what brought them to the job and tell us in-depth about why they love teaching preschool.
7 Reasons why early childhood educators love teaching
There’s a lot to like about teaching and working with young children. Read on to learn what keeps experienced early childhood educators invested in their work.
1. Creativity plays a key role
For Emily Daller, an assistant preschool teacher with over 14 years in the field, her love of theater and the arts was a surprisingly good match for teaching preschoolers.
“At our preschool, we pull from a lot of different philosophies,” Daller explains. “But basically, we are child-led and play-based, letting the kids follow their own interests. We believe in having the materials available to the children, every day, all day, making them able to experience creating art, just how they want to, with no limits on what they create. We are about the process, not the product.”
Daller also loves being outdoors with her preschoolers, often drawing on her art and theater background when it comes to imaginative play and making things.
“It’s really cool to see a kid come up with a way to use materials that I’d never think of in a million years,” Daller says. “They learn that there are so many ways to do things. We are a ‘yes’ environment.”
2. Witnessing the wonder of learning every day
“I just really love how every little thing is so exciting to preschoolers,” Daller says. “You get to see the most mundane things, over and over again, through their eyes. Finding a potato bug on the playground, making art with leaves. They have so much wonder about everything.”
Jeanette Lepore, a preschool teacher with over 30 years of experience, is no stranger to seeing the wonder in young children. Having the change to see children learn something new every day was a big draw for Lepore as she entered the profession.
“I love the ‘Aha!’ moment when a child’s eyes light up because they understand something new or try something for the first time,” Lepore explains.
Preschool teacher Ana Lau also finds observing children learning something for the first time extremely rewarding.
“I love seeing joy come out of them when they’ve understood something or remembered something they learned before,” Lau says.
3. You play an important role in a person’s development
Lepore has found her love for the work has changed as she’s grown and learned herself.
“I’ve loved my job because I help families understand the life and development of the young child, which helped the family as a unit,” Lepore explains. “Right now, I get deep satisfaction knowing that quality early childhood education can help a child develop strong self-esteem, problem-solving skills and independence. This can set the trajectory for the rest of their life, and I like being a part of that.”
"I just really love how every little thing is so exciting to preschoolers"
Lau, who grew up in the environment of her mother’s in-home childcare service, says that growing up surrounded by early childhood education her entire life was a big factor in choosing this field.
“My mom worked in childcare literally since I was born,” Lau says. “I think seeing my mom and being inspired by how much my mom cared was the big motivation. It’s basically in my DNA to work with kids.”
Lau’s passion for her job comes from seeing the unconditional love her mother showed the children in her care.
“Kids are perfect, innocent little beings,” Lau says. “They can do everything and nothing wrong. And I think honestly that kids deserve the best when it comes to education, to play time, to being a child.”
Lau says that she loves how her job lets her dream about the amazing futures her preschoolers could have.
“One little boy, I think he should do gymnastics and become an engineer,” Lau says. “Another girl in my class for sure needs to work with plants and flowers because she loves them so much. And another kid, she’s going to be an astrophysicist. I love thinking about all they could do.”
4. An ever-changing routine
Though Daller, Lepore and Lau all work to create daily routines for the children in their classrooms, one thing all three of them report loving is how every day is different.
“There is always something new,” Lepore says. “It might be new science or art activities. Quality children’s literature is a passion of mine, and I look forward to bringing it into the classroom.”
The uniqueness of each child is what keeps Daller excited to go to work. “For me, each kid is different,” Daller says. “You have to really talk to them and figure out what makes them tick. A lot of that is through play. The most effective way to start a relationship with kids is just sitting down on the floor and playing with them.”
“You literally never know what’s going to happen,” Lau says. “Even though I wake up at 5:30 every morning, I’m excited for it.”
Lau says that while a big part of the job is keeping the daily routine going, what she especially delights in is what she calls “the in-between time.”
“It’s the little stuff,” Lau explains. “When they’re moving to a new play area, or it’s time to go outside, or each lunch—that’s when something will break down. Someone starts crying or gets in a fight or takes someone’s toy.”
While these minor behavioral challenges can certainly add some stress into the day, there are certainly high points to counterbalance to the lows.
“My mood instantly melts away when I walk into my center, and I hear a symphony of kids yelling my name. Parents, too. It makes me feel good and lifts my self-esteem, knowing they look forward to seeing me,” Lau says.
5. Little kids, big impact
All three preschool teachers said they love their job because they know their work has lasting, positive effects.
“I know that my work has had life-changing impacts on families and children,” Lepore states. “I’ve had parents write letters about how they are a better parent because of my class. And I know other students have benefited from being connected to services they needed at the time, like special education or social workers.”
Lau also finds great satisfaction in starting young lives out positively.
“We are the ones who are taking the time to really sit down and teach kids to be human,” Lau says.
6. There’s wisdom in a child’s perspective
Perspective can be hard to find when you’re caught up in the day-to-day bustle of being an adult. Working with young children can provide some excellent moments that can make you pause and appreciate their point of view.
“Sometimes preschoolers have the best advice,” Daller says. “I have gone through some difficult times in my life, and through it all have been my preschoolers. Sometimes, just at the right moment, they say something to you that strikes a chord, changes your perspective. And it comes from such an organic, innocent place. That’s how you know it’s true. They’re not trying to sugarcoat it. It’s refreshing to be with this age group.”
7. It can be a lot of fun
“It just doesn’t feel like work!” Lepore says. “I often said that if I won the lottery, I would still show up every day. In all honesty, meeting the social and emotional needs of young children is serious work. But you can make it so much fun!”
Fun is another reason Lau loves her job. When her center has special days, like Bike Day or Water Day, Lau says organizing and managing these events can be a lot of work because of the challenge to make sure all the kids are engaged and safe.
“It’s just really fun seeing just run around and be kids,” Lau says. “Kids don’t know how to fake anything.”
Is a career in early childhood education right for you?
Now that you know more about what ECE pros love about teaching little ones, could a career as an early childhood educator be in your future? Our article “9 Signs You Should Be Teaching Preschool” can help provide some of the telltale signs if this field is the right fit for you.