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Elementary Education and Teaching - Overview


Elementary education and teaching programs prepare people to teach grades one through eight. Students learn to teach all subject areas to young children. They learn to plan lessons and projects designed to motivate and challenge students. They also learn to counsel students and work with families.

Have you ever gone back to your old elementary school and walked around? Didn't you feel so BIG? The desks and chairs are small and even the hallways feel so much smaller. Yet, when you were a kid first walking down that hall, first sitting at your desk, you probably felt so little. School can be an intimidating place. But once you know your teacher and make some friends, school is wonderful. You learned some very important skills in your early years – how to read, how to add and subtract. And there are probably some very cute art projects your mom or dad has saved, such as that fourth grade Thanksgiving project!

Typically, you become an elementary teacher by getting a bachelor's degree from an elementary education program. In these programs, your courses teach you how young minds learn and develop. You study child psychology, how to use technology in the classroom, and how to measure student progress. You also learn about different subject matter, from reading to math to art. You then use this information to learn about planning courses and designing teaching materials. And through student teaching, you get to apply the information that you've learned and try out ideas that you've developed. Some programs allow you to focus on a specific subject area. For example, you might concentrate on math; this would allow you to concentrate on teaching kids math skills.

Elementary education programs intend to prepare people to teach students in kindergarten through eighth grade. Middle school education programs intend to prepare people to teach students in grades four through nine. In most cases, you work in public and private schools.

Many colleges and universities offer programs in elementary teacher education. You can earn a bachelor's, a master's, or a doctoral degree in this program of study. You can also earn a postbaccalaureate certificate.

In general, a bachelor's degree takes about four years of full-time study after high school. Graduate degrees typically take two to five years to complete after your bachelor's degree.

Source: Illinois Career Information System (CIS) brought to you by Illinois Department of Employment Security.
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