How To Get Into Childhood Development

Skills needed

Becoming a preschool teacher can be a very rewarding career. You will be shaping the minds of young children during their most impressionable years. People who choose to work with preschool-aged children will have a lasting impact on that child’s perception of education. Because of this, you need to be sure that you are the right person for the job. One way to ensure this is by volunteering or working at a school or day care centre. This will provide first-hand knowledge of what a typical day will be like. Talk to veterans in the career who can answer questions and give good insight into the job.

One thing is for sure, there are particular qualifications and/or qualities that parents look for in a preschool teacher before deciding where to place a child in a preschool teacher’s care.

It is through personal interaction and play that most preschool teachers help children learn. They encourage a student’s curiosity and imagination, and give children experience to ask questions and explore answers using all five senses. A good preschool teacher will help the children adjust to group settings and prepare them for school.

Qualifications of Preschool Teachers

Teachers in early childhood education have both the knowledge and skills to influence a child’s outcome positively. If you want to become an early childhood teacher, you must have the patience, stamina, and personality to work with a room full of energetic children each day.


  • a caring and accepting attitude
  • strong interpersonal skills
  • self-awareness
  • skills in critical thinking
  • flexibility
  • an acceptance of diversity
  • model respectful behaviour and language
  • maintain a healthy lifestyle
  • use clear communication
  • use consistent, positive child guidance strategies
  • observe and interpret children’s behaviour
  • communicate effectively and work closely with children, parents and colleagues
  • solve problems with children and families.

Courses & colleges

Many people work in education and care services without holding a formal qualification, but there are qualification and other requirements for some roles in services.

Early Childhood Development (ECD) is a priority area within the South African context and is supported by legislation, national policies and strategies. The development of babies, toddlers and young children forms the most critical foundation of further development into childhood and adulthood. There is thus a vast need for ECD services, and it is critical that the field should be served by competent practitioners. In order to meet the needs at ECD level, it is important to be able to identify and recognise competent ECD practitioners who are able to work in a variety of ECD contexts. This qualification will provide a means to give recognition to practitioners at an entry level, thus making it possible for practitioners to increase their employment prospects, and at the same time provide the field with suitably qualified practitioners. (Department of Education, 2006)

See SAQA unit standards:

In South Africa there is training available for the following positions:

  • Teachers working in the ECD field with only practical experience; with nor or inadequate training.
  • Teachers planning a career change or who have an interest in ECD (ages 3-6 years).
  • Students who are interested to start a career in ECD.
  • Au Pairs, nannies, day care mothers and parents who would like to learn more about child development, -teaching and -day care.
  • Persons who are interested in starting a Daycare Centrum.
  • Students who do not yet meet the criteria to register for the National Certificate in Teaching Reception Year. After completing the ECD certificate, they will qualify to register for the Reception Year Teaching. It is possible to register for both certificates at the same time.

Examples of courses:

  • Early Childhood development diplomas
  • Certificate in Child Day Care
  • Diploma in Child Day Care
  • Crèche Management
  • Health safety and nutrition for young children
  • Introduction to Child Psychology
  • ‘Save-a-child’ First Aid
  • Au Pair
  • Developmental Milestones
  • Cooking for Infants and Young Children
  • Small Business Management


  • CollegeSA offer a variety of distance learning programmes to help prepare and support day care workers and owners. Visit them at:

  • The Centre for Early Childhood Development (CECD) is a national resource providing training, support and advice in the field of early childhood development. The focus of our work is on improving the education and care of children from disadvantaged communities.

 20 Rosmead Avenue


Western Cape


South Africa

 (021) 683 2420

 (021) 683 5838

  • TREE ECD – Training Resources for Early Education, Established in 1984, a non-profit, Early Childhood Development (ECD) Resource and Training Organisation, has worked towards a vision of assisting adults (mostly women) from disadvantaged communities, to provide their young children with access to qualified ECD programs, that promote the child’s holistic development, support, health and welfare.

Physical:               Emthonjeni TREE Centre

69 Krishna Road



Postal: P.O. Box 35173



Tel:         031 5794711/2/3/4

Fax:        031 5794687


Finding work

The following are general tips and guidelines to help you get a foot in the door (of your classroom!)

  • Networking

Simply ask everyone you know if they can help you find a preschool teacher job.

  • Use the internet

The Internet will be a big help for networking and for finding preschool teacher jobs. The first thing you want to do is set up job alerts on popular career sites. Visit job search boards, search for “preschool teacher jobs” or “child day care worker” or “nursery school teacher” in your area, and then look for the option that allows the site to send you notifications of new listings in this category.

Once you begin receiving listings, be sure to respond as quickly as possible because some companies only look at materials from the first batch of applicants.

Next you should join online forums for teachers. The purpose of this is not to waste time chatting on the Internet; instead the purpose is to gain valuable insight. By using online forums to network with teachers, you will begin to notice hiring trends, you will be able to ask for feedback about your CV and interviewing techniques, and you may even be able to find job listings that they dot not post publicly.

  • Visit schools

When looking for preschool teacher jobs, one of the best things you can do is go directly to the source. Make a list of all the preschools in your area and visit their websites. See if they have any job openings posted. Write down the contact information and start to draft an introduction letter. Tell them who you are, your experience and your interest in scheduling an informational interview. Send this letter to the director of every preschool in your area. If you have not heard back in a few weeks, place a follow-up call.

Be sure to treat any informational interview just as you would treat a regular interview. Be prepared by bringing copies of your CV, researching the school so that you show that you are interested in them as a company and not just getting a job at a preschool, and by having a list of questions you would like to ask

Helpful websites: