Top 10 Qualities of a Great Preschool Teacher

Being a preschool teacher is a tough job that doesn’t usually entail the type of social (let alone financial) respect it should. Throw in a demanding and sometimes fussy bunch of parents (and oh yeah, their kids) and you will find classrooms led by the few, the proud, the brave, the preschool teachers.

Finland seems to have bucked the global teacher-undervaluation trend through clever use of what they call “academic sauna.” If you can take the heat and survive the rigorous qualification process, it feels great when you make it through. Finnish teachers’ salaries are not that high but they are as well respected as their peers in medicine and law, for example.

How can you identify a good preschool teacher if you don’t happen to have a Nordic social policy handy? Here are 10 qualities to look for in a great early childhood educator:

1. A great preschool teacher is a true believer. That means she has to be passionate about helping kids and making a difference in their lives. American preschool teachers (or any American teachers, really) are simply not doing what they do for the money. They do it because they believe in it.

2. A true early childhood educator is someone with a heart. Preschoolers need a lot of warmth and understanding. If you have to choose between qualifications and heart, go with heart every time.

3. A great child care provider is patient. Preschoolers are not cherubs. They don’t jive that well with short fuse personalities!

4. A wonderful caregiver is tolerant. Each kid is a little different. Cookie cutters are tools for kitchen activities, not early childhood education.

5. A good preschool teacher is perseverant and inventive. They’ll get the job done even if it means coming up with a new way to do it.

6. A great preschool director is realistic. Not every problem has an immediate solution especially when it comes to children.

7. A good early childhood educator is honest. If there is a problem, being ignorant and avoiding it is the worst course of action. Opening lines of communication with parents is critical.

8. A great child care center director is organized. Kids like predictable routines and for the most part, their parents do too. Especially when it comes to teacher reports and conferences.

9. A good child care provider is tidy. The smaller the children, the more important it is to keep their play area clean.

10. A great preschool teacher is not afraid to laugh! A sense of humor is a huge asset (sometimes the only asset) that can help get through a day with a fussy preschooler :)

Did we miss something? If your child’s preschool teacher or child care provider has a certain trait that deserves mention here, let us know below! If you’re a child care owner or preschool director and can add to the list, please do!


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  • I am happy to have found this article about the qualities a good preschool teacher should possess. I like what was mentioned about the importance of patience. This quality would be beneficial in lots of situations. Something else to consider is if the teacher has children and can relate to personal experiences.

  • I just moved to a new city and so I am trying to find the right preschool teacher for my son. I definitely think that it is important for a teacher to be tidy and organized, because it can be pretty hard taking care of multiple young children. Also, I think that being tidy gives children a great example and might help my son to start picking up after himself as well. I will definitely make sure that whichever teacher we end up with has that quality.

  • I agree with what this says about teachers really being passionate about helping the kids, and having heart. I can kind of see why most preschool teachers are women, because women generally have these traits to begin with. I’m sure there are some men teachers out there that are really good too. These are some great qualities to look for. Thanks!

  • Most kids do need “a lot of warmth and understanding” to learn. When we are looking for a preschool to put our kids in one day, we will have to look for one that has patience and a lot of heart. I don’t need to have my children upset because their teacher gets mad easily or doesn’t care.

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