any former daycare teachers now elem.

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-03-2004
any former daycare teachers now elem.
Thu, 07-22-2010 - 1:47pm

I have been teaching preschool for 16 years and now I am finishing my degree and seriously thinking about moving into elem ed.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-24-2003
Thu, 07-22-2010 - 6:12pm

Hi, Michelle.



Avatar for caraleas
iVillage Member
Registered: 10-06-1997
Thu, 07-22-2010 - 6:47pm

I have never done daycare, but have taught elementary (including pre-school), my husband worked in a church daycare shortly after we got married, and my cousin had a home based daycare for many years. I am not sure what your income is like, but odds are the money is at least as good, if not better, and the benefits will probably be much better. Teachers (especially the first couple years) work long hours, and even with the little ones, you wind up taking a lot of stuff home with you. If you are teaching kindergarten, it is mostly cutting stuff out and prepping manipulative/project stuff. Good news is, you probably won't have to be up as early in the morning - I know most home daycares are up and running by 6:30 am....

The best part about being a teacher is vacation. You have holidays off, and summers. The paychecks come year round, as salary is distributed over 12 months. You get good sick leave, but in most districts that I am aware of, you have ZERO vacation days to be used during the year, so if you have a family wedding to travel to, or another important event, you have to call out sick. Also, you are stuck vacationing when everyone else is - no visiting Disney when most kids are in school! Although, if you are like most of the daycare folks I know, you probably never take a real vacation at all!

Another good part about being a teacher is that every fall you get a sense of new beginnings and a fresh start - it is always invigorating and energizing, figuring out how to improve your teaching and fix things that might not have gone as smoothly as you would have liked the year before. If the country went to year round schools, I think a lot of teachers would leave the profession - you need the time to re-energize and get excited about the new year.

You will probably need to do continuing education on your own time and your own dime. My district does a lot of training for classroom teachers (reading and math), that can count towards certificate renewal, but depending on your district, and your subject area, you may have to pay out of pocket for your own training, and do it on weekends or summers.

You will not have to worry about getting paid (in general- although with the current economic situation, some districts have had to take furlough days).

If you choose to teach kindergarten and/or 1st grade, kids are still quite affectionate, but managing 20-30 kindergartners on your own (some districts have assistants, some do not) can be a challenge. And, parents can be quite a challenge, as well. You probably have an idea about that already, but somehow some parents feel more entitled to place blame and verbally abuse you when you are being paid by the taxpayers. And depending on where you wind up working, witnessing the emotional and physical neglect, and just plain poor parenting that your students are exposed to can be very draining.

Be prepared for the possibility of winding up in a toxic work environment - administrators and fellow staff members make or break a school - MOST teachers are trying really hard to help all kids succeed, but there are bad apples in every barrel. Some administrators cannot see past the test scores to the kids, some teachers are riding the retirement clock and some are just too burned out to care about anything but getting through to the next vacation.

If you like the little ones, you might try a special education/early childhood endorsement. My district has special ed preschool in several buildings, working with a range of students, and the class size and assistance level is much more reasonable. Of course, then you enter the realm of SPED paperwork, which if you are not organized can become a nightmare.

What is the degree you are finishing up? Is it an education degree? Or will you need to do certification work after you are done? Internships and student teaching experiences can really help you find the grade level you enjoy.

Are you prepared to put your own kids into daycare? I know that would be the hard part for me, if I were starting out. At least you should have some connections, and know what to look for!

Reading this through, I hope I gave you a fair picture. There are days I love teaching, and days I hate it. The best part is a sense of autonomy in the classroom, and helping kids be successful is great. Dealing with state and district mandates which are sometimes counter to what you know will help your kids is tough.

Best of luck with your decision!

Music note sig MED

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-14-2005
Fri, 07-23-2010 - 1:10pm

Long story short (and I'll warn you up-front, this is not a real positive picture - get into the classrooms as a sub or teachers aide & take note of how things work in your school for the teachers particularly under the surface. I love the teaching part and connecting w/the kids, but our administration "does not work well w/teachers." You don't have to fight for your pay, but truth be told, I've never been paid so little for so much work in my life! (..& I'm older & have had a few different jobs at different times in my life). If you want anything in your classroom besides desks, the classroom set of books, teacher computer, an overhead & possibly a projector - be prepared for the out-of-pocket expenses, plus most teachers (me included) have student loans to pay off that were taken out in order to become teachers!! (I joke that I paid to do this!) There is barely enuf time to teach what you are mandated to teach - all those fun lessons & units you put together in your ed classes are more like pipe-dreams than the reality of what you have time for in the classroom. I don't see a way that you can manage the paperwork load without taking papers home every night, & w/lesson planning & record keeping you should be prepared to lose about 1/2 your weekend to be prepared for the upcoming weeks lessons & keeping caught up w/everything that's hit you so far... And don't forget the mental exhaustion of just keeping up w/classrooms full of 35+ kids these days (w/no help) w/varying levels of learning abilities, behavioral problems, family support, & the trickle down societal attitude of entitlement. The teacher is the person held responsible for the learning that goes on in that room. Be prepared to back-up & justify everything you do - parents usually come in because they perceive a problem & you have to remember they have only heard their students version of what's going on & why. Teaching is exhausting, whether you do it in your home on your terms or in our public schools where you have to meet everyone elses expectations, plus your own!

Long story: I did licensed in-home child care (large family daycare in California (up to 12; & Group Home in AZ up to 15) for 16+yrs. while our five children were growing up. I sporadically took college classes throughout my adult years & when my daycare just wouldn't make a go of it w/the move to very rural AZ I started substitute teaching on yearly Emergency certification & settled into the Elementary Ed. distance ed program here while my last two boys were finishing high school. My three children were raised f/t in our home & we were actively involved parents in their schools the entire time they attended - one of those being very highly gifted. My oldest D(now 35) is a certified Elementary teacher in CA - she prefers 6th grade, but has chosen to stay home w/her kids while they are young - and refuses to put them in the public school system now that they are reaching school age. She found a reasonable private school & she is beginning to teach again thru one of the on-line schools in her area p/t.

At this point in my life I prefer the high schoolers actually, but the going about getting into Secondary education here is a bit convoluted as I could only get the Elementary Ed. degree thru the distance ed. I took on the jr hi math for the lower end kids (Title I at the time supposedly guaranteed a cap of 20 students per class) & taught thru my probationary period to get my regular Elementary certification. Since I did well & found I enjoyed teaching math (plus passed the exam to be highly qualified after my 1st year teaching), I then took a year off to complete the requisite math units for the Secondary Math certification. I missed the 1st exam passing score by 5 pts, was in a car rollover off the freeway that kind of took most of the following year to recover from (but I came out quite OK in the end) and have just had a real hard time going back to f/t teaching. I did a long-term sub at our jr hi last year (1st half of the school year) til they could hire in the student teacher from Iowa that was finishing his degree working w/them & have continued to do subbing quite regularly but am appalled at how stressed & unhappy veteran teachers are by mid-year w/all the expectations and classroom macro-management that is being dumped on them. Basically they are not being treated as the professionals they are. They are not being allowed to teach on their own terms. They are being told what to do, how to do it, when to do it, & have been told outright "if you don't like the changes & are unhappy here, you are free to go elsewhere.." Unfortunately, most teachers are not in the position I am in - this is their livelihood & any job is better than none, & like everywhere, cuts in staff are being made so there are only so many jobs to go around. I got my certification more as "an insurance policy" in case something were to happen to my DH, I could make a viable f/t living. But I am in the position that subbing on my terms works for us & I do not have to put myself in such a stressful position - & for me teaching f/t is quite stressful. In our area we not only get it from the top down w/our overbearing administration, but there is a basic lack of respect for education in general so teachers get the brunt of that attitude from the bottom up as they face roomfuls of students who see no need for the education we are trying to provide them & take no personal responsibility to do their part in what it takes to learn. With so many bodies & personalities in a room it becomes more like babysitting & crowd control than teaching.

Our jr hi starts next week - the teachers came back this week. They finished out last year w/5 math teachers (one of those a long term sub filling in from December when a f/t 7th gr. teacher left). Only 2 math teachers returned, they've chosen to not fill one position (so this year they will have 36 students per class), & have 2 positions still open - starting the year w/2 long term subs. Also in this mix they are no longer providing a separate SPED classroom for language arts & Math instruction, they have hired a SPED teacher to float thruout the main classrooms and mainstream those students that were in their own classroom up to now. So those 36 kids in each of those classrooms will go the gammut of those w/less than a 3rd grade level of ability to those who exceed. They've also cut classroom time by 10 minutes so what we did in 45 minutes before, we now have to do in 35 minutes - so they could add in another period to the day for an "incentive class" offering.

I have heard from several teachers that the administration at our HS is much better, but I want to be highly qualified before I take on a f/t position & at this point I've put off another year of being involved w/math of any sort or taking the necessary exam. Kind of working up to it next year. Then we'll see... I am going to get back up to the HS this year for subbing. I haven't been in their classrooms for a couple years now so I really need to see how things are truly going at this point. But for right now I am purposely staying away from the jr hi because part of me feels bad that here I sit highly qualified to teach math, they need math teachers, & I just can not see my way clear to bow down to their expectations & put myself into what I know is nothing but a stressful situation for me.

If your family is young & your day care business is going well, I'd say stick with it. But if you feel yourself getting to the burn-out phase, who knows it's possible the schools in your area are different. The pay may be steadier, but I don't see that it wouldn't take a toll on your family. I could have never done this while my kids were growing up - I guess that's why I didn't.

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-16-2009
Mon, 07-26-2010 - 11:29pm

I worked at daycares from the time I was 16 until I started teaching in the elementary school.