Early years teacher

An early years teacher


Early years teachers instruct students, primarily young children aged 3 to 6, in basic subjects and creative play to develop their social and intellectual skills in an informal way in preparation for future formal learning. They create lesson plans, possibly in accordance with a fixed curriculum, for an entire class or smaller groups and test the students on the content. These lesson plans, based on basic subjects, can include the instruction of number, letter, and colour recognition, days of the week, categorisation of animals and transport vehicles, etc. Early years teachers also supervise students outside the classroom on school grounds and enforce rules of behaviour there as well.

Early years teachers typically do the following tasks:

  • Design and implement play-based learning activities that promote social, emotional, and cognitive development.
  • Develop age-appropriate curriculum plans focusing on key areas such as language development, motor skills, creativity, and early mathematics concepts.
  • Recognize and respond to individual children’s unique needs and learning styles, adapting teaching methods accordingly.
  • Create a safe, stimulating, and inclusive classroom environment that encourages curiosity and exploration.
  • Maintain open and regular communication with parents or guardians, providing insights into a child’s progress and addressing any concerns.
  • Implement positive behavior management strategies to promote a respectful and cooperative classroom atmosphere.
  • Conduct ongoing assessments of children’s development, using various observation methods and tools to inform teaching strategies.
  • Ensure the well-being of children by maintaining a safe and hygienic environment, following health and safety protocols.
  • Facilitate language development through storytelling, conversations, and activities that promote communication skills.
  • Work collaboratively with teaching assistants, support staff, and other professionals to enhance the overall learning experience.

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to early years teacher:

hair and beauty teacher
vocational beauty teacher
preprimary school teacher
kindergarten teacher
reception teacher
vocational hair and beauty teacher
preschool teacher
hair and beauty educator
educator in beauty
educator in hair and beauty
beauty educator
Beauty teacher
nursery teacher

Working conditions

Early years teachers typically work in preschools, nursery schools, or early childhood education centers. The work environment is focused on creating a supportive and engaging atmosphere for young learners. The role involves regular interaction with parents or guardians, as well as participation in professional development opportunities to stay updated on best practices in early childhood education.

Minimum qualifications

To become an early years teacher, a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education or a related field is usually required. Some regions may also require teacher certification or licensure. Practical experience gained through student teaching or internships in early childhood settings is valuable. Successful early years teachers possess a deep understanding of child development, strong communication skills, creativity, and a passion for fostering a love of learning in young children. Continuing education, attendance at early childhood conferences, and participation in relevant workshops contribute to the ongoing success of early years teachers.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Early years teacher is a Skill level 4 occupation.

Early years teacher career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to early years teacher.

Freinet school teacher
Montessori school teacher
early years special educational needs teacher
Steiner school teacher
teacher of talented and gifted students

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of early years teacher.

  • Children’s physical development: Recognise and describe the development, observing the following criteria: weight, length, and head size, nutritional requirements, renal function, hormonal influences on development, response to stress, and infection.
  • Learning difficulties: The learning disorders some students face in an academic context, especially Specific Learning Difficulties such as dyslexia, dyscalculia, and concentration deficit disorders.
  • Teamwork principles: The cooperation between people characterised by a unified commitment to achieving a given goal, participating equally, maintaining open communication, facilitating effective usage of ideas, etc.
  • Curriculum objectives: The goals identified in curricula and defined learning outcomes.
  • Kindergarten school procedures: The inner workings of a kindergarten, such as the structure of the relevant education support and management, policies, and regulations.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of early years teacher.

  • Manage children’s problems: Promote the prevention, early detection, and management of children`s problems, focusing on developmental delays and disorders, behavioural problems, functional disabilities, social stresses, mental disorders, including depression, and anxiety disorders.
  • Guarantee students’ safety: Ensure all students falling under an instructor or other person’s supervision are safe and accounted for. Follow safety precautions in the learning situation.
  • Prepare lesson content: Prepare content to be taught in class in accordance with curriculum objectives by drafting exercises, researching up-to-date examples etc.
  • Facilitate teamwork between students: Encourage students to cooperate with others in their learning by working in teams, for example through group activities.
  • Assess the development of youth: Evaluate the different aspects of development needs of children and young people.
  • Observe student’s progress: Follow up on students’ learning progress and assess their achievements and needs.
  • Manage student relationships: Manage the relations between students and between student and teacher. Act as a just authority and create an environment of trust and stability.
  • Support the positiveness of youths: Help children and young people to assess their social, emotional and identity needs and to develop a positive self image, enhance their self esteem and improve their self reliance.
  • Adapt teaching to student’s capabilities: Identify the learning struggles and successes of students. Select teaching and learning strategies that support students’ individual learning needs and goals.
  • Apply teaching strategies: Employ various approaches, learning styles, and channels to instruct students, such as communicating content in terms they can understand, organising talking points for clarity, and repeating arguments when necessary. Use a wide range of teaching devices and methodologies appropriate to the class content, the learners’ level, goals, and priorities.
  • Maintain students’ discipline: Make sure students follow the rules and code of behaviour established in the school and take the appropriate measures in case of violation or misbehaviour.
  • Implement care programmes for children: Perform activities with children according to their physical, emotional, intellectual and social needs by using appropriate tools and equipment that facilitate interaction and learning activities.
  • Assist students with equipment: Provide assistance to students when working with (technical) equipment used in practice-based lessons and solve operational problems when necessary.
  • Assist in children’s development of basic personal skills: Encourage and facilitate the development of children’s natural curiosity and social and language abilities through creative and social activities such as storytelling, imaginative play, songs, drawing, and games.
  • Support children’s wellbeing: Provide an environment that supports and values children and helps them to manage their own feelings and relationships with others.
  • Teach kindergarten class content: Instruct pre-primary students in basic learning principles, in preparation for future formal learning. Teach them the principles of certain basic subjects such as number, letter, and colour recognition, days of the week, and the categorisation of animals and vehicles.
  • Demonstrate when teaching: Present to others examples of your experience, skills, and competences that are appropriate to specific learning content to help students in their learning.
  • Give constructive feedback: Provide founded feedback through both criticism and praise in a respectful, clear, and consistent manner. Highlight achievements as well as mistakes and set up methods of formative assessment to evaluate work.
  • Perform classroom management: Maintain discipline and engage students during instruction.
  • Assist students in their learning: Support and coach students in their work, give learners practical support and encouragement.
  • Apply intercultural teaching strategies: Ensure that the content, methods, materials and the general learning experience is inclusive for all students and takes into account the expectations and experiences of learners from diverse cultural backgrounds. Explore individual and social stereotypes and develop cross-cultural teaching strategies.
  • Encourage students to acknowledge their achievements: Stimulate students to appreciate their own achievements and actions to nurture confidence and educational growth.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of early years teacher. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Workplace sanitation: The importance of a clean, sanitary workspace for example through use of hand disinfectant and sanitizer, in order to minimise infection risk between colleagues or when working with children.
  • Assessment processes: Various evaluation techniques, theories, and tools applicable in the assessment of students, participants in a programme, and employees. Different assessment strategies such as initial, formative, summative and self-assessment are used for varying purposes.
  • Common children’s diseases: The symptoms, characteristics, and treatment of diseases and disorders that often affect children, such as measles, chickenpox, asthma, mumps, and head lice.
  • Language teaching methods: The techniques used to teach students a foreign language, such as audio-lingual, communicative language teaching (CLT), and immersion.
  • Special needs education: The teaching methods, equipment and settings used to support students with special needs in achieving succes in school or community.
  • First aid: The emergency treatment given to a sick or injured person in the case of circulatory and/or respiratory failure, unconsciousness, wounds, bleeding, shock or poisoning.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of early years teacher. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Consult students on learning content: Take students’ opinions and preferences into consideration when determining learning content.
  • Escort students on a field trip: Accompany students on an educational trip outside the school environment and ensure their safety and cooperation.
  • Liaise with educational support staff: Communicate with education management, such as the school principal and board members, and with the education support team such as the teaching assistant, school counsellor or academic advisor on issues relating the students’ well-being.
  • Assess students: Evaluate the students’ (academic) progress, achievements, course knowledge and skills through assignments, tests, and examinations. Diagnose their needs and track their progress, strengths, and weaknesses. Formulate a summative statement of the goals the student achieved.
  • Provide after school care: Lead, supervise or help with the assistance of indoor and outdoor recreational or educational activities after school or during school holidays.
  • Manage resources for educational purposes: Identify the necessary resources needed for learning purposes, such as materials in class or arranged transportation for a field trip. Apply for the corresponding budget and follow up on the orders.
  • Promote the safeguarding of young people: Understand safeguarding and what should be done in cases of actual or potential harm or abuse.
  • Perform playground surveillance: Observe students’ recreational activities to ensure student safety and well-being and intervene when necessary.
  • Attend to children’s basic physical needs: Tend to children by feeding them, dressing them, and, if necessary, regularly changing their diapers in a sanitary manner.
  • Provide lesson materials: Ensure that the necessary materials for teaching a class, such as visual aids, are prepared, up-to-date, and present in the instruction space.
  • Organise creative performance: Organise an event in which participants can express their creativity, such as putting on a dance, theatre, or talent show.
  • Maintain relations with children’s parents: Inform children`s parents of the activities planned, program`s expectations and children`s individual progress.

ISCO group and title

2342 – Early childhood educators

  1. Early years teacher – ESCO
  2. Featured image: Photo by Benson Low on Unsplash
Last updated on January 4, 2024