How to Become an Elementary School Teacher

Elementary School teachers teach kindergarten through sixth grade. They teach children life skills, motor skills and social skills in a classroom environment, as well as subjects including language arts, science, math, art and history [source: bls]. This is what you'll need to become an elementary school teacher:

  • You have to enjoy children, since you'll be working with them all day, every day. A good way to see if teaching's for you is by working with children through volunteer activities.
  • You need a creative, engaging personality to motivate your students to participate.
  • You must earn a bachelor's degree with a teacher-training certificate or a Bachelor of Science in Education (BSE) Elementary Teacher degree, to be qualified to teach elementary schools [source: education-portal].

As part of your college coursework, you will study or participate in the following:


  • Pedagogies
  • Active learning techniques
  • Hands-on activities
  • Group work
  • Child psychology and development
  • Foundations of education
  • Children's literature
  • Public speaking
  • Educational philosophy
  • Diversity management [source: Education-Portal]

Before you're able to teach elementary school, you'll have to fulfill the following requirements:

  • Student teaching Your coursework will include a certain number of required hours as a student teacher. This will help you gain experience in classrooms under the direct supervision of professional teachers [source: certificationmap].
  • Certification Most states require their teachers to be certified by the State Board of Education. Certification includes passing a competency test, earning bachelor's degree, completing a teacher training program and completing supervised practice teaching (i.e. student teaching) [source: certificationmap].
  • Continued education Although this isn't required, you may want to take additional courses to continue your professional development. You may even want to earn a master's degree to gain more knowledge in curriculum development, childcare administration and children's health and safety [source: Education-Portal]. Naturally, this would give you a professional advantage.
  • National certification Although this isn't required, you may want to be certified by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. This will entail taking courses in areas including understanding young children and promoting child development and learning [source: nbpts].