Preschooling Career

Do you know what preschooling is or what early childhood education entails? Do you have what it takes to be a preschool teacher? This information will help you understand what to expect in terms of the industry, your role and salary. Click here to read more.


If you already started to investigate the career options for preschool teaching, you probably realized very early on that there is a whole range of specialization areas. We made a list to explain the meeting of all the confusing terms and categorized all your options for easy reference:


Baby A child between 0 and 18 months old.
Toddler A child between 18 and 36 months old.
Child A person under the age of 18 years.
Early childhood Development (ECD) This is the umbrella term for the period during which emotionally, spiritually, morally, and socially.



Physical developmental This the development of fine (small) and gross (large) motor skills.
Intellectual developmental Intellectual development is the process through which children make sense of the world around them.
Creative development The development of special abilities such as talents is described as creative development. Music, art, writing, and signing are ways in which creative development manifests itself.
Emotional development This involves the development of self-awareness, self-confidence, and coping with feelings as well as understanding them.
Social development This area is concerned with children’s identity, their relationships with others, and understanding their place within a social environment.



Day Care: Day care centres care for babies up to the age of 18 months. These babies are cared for by the facilities on a daily basis while their parents are at work. The facility has to register with the Department of Social Development.

Play Group: A play group is an informal service provided for children, usually for up to a maximum of four hours a day. The main purpose of a play group is socialization and stimulation. Examples of these facilities are popular South African franchises such as “Moms and tots”, “Mothers and miracles” and “Pienkvoet pret”.

Place of care: A place of care is any building or premises which is maintained or used for the protection and care of more than six children while their parents are at work, but does not include a boarding school or hostel. Depending on its registration, a place of care can admit babies, toddlers, preschool aged children and school-going children on a full-day basis as otherwise arranged. In cases where parents work night shifts, children could be cared for at night.

Preschool: An institution that is used mainly for the teaching or training of children. Preschools in South Africa are found in both the public sector and the private sector. The public preschools are funded by the provincial governments. The independent or private preschools are run by communities or some other private bodies.

Preschool education in South Africa can stretch from ages 3 to 7 as compulsory education in the country starts from the age of 7. It has two components: Pre Grade R and Grade R programmes. Pre-Grade R programmes are meant for children between 0-4 years of age and Grade R (reception year) programmes are meant fo 5-6 year old children. The early childcare development programme also consists of the foundation programme up to Grade 3. The preschools in South Africa provide lessons in language, mathematics, life skills, technology, arts, and culture.


Child care worker: This is the umbrella term used for any person concerned with the care of children. Child care workers are also called edu-carers, teachers, child minders, practitioners, and care givers amongst others.

Day mother/child minder: This is a person who, whether at a fee or free of charge, takes care of a maximum of six children at a day care centre or place of care. Since child minders are responsible for the care and development of children in their care, they must be familiar with basic safety measures and good child care practices.

Practitioners: The term refers to all ECD education and training development practitioners. This includes the whole spectrum of ECD educators, trainers, facilitators, lecturers, caregivers, development officers, etc, including those who are involved in providing services in homes, centres an schools. In respect of educators and trainers, the term includes both formally and non-formally trained individuals providing an educational service in ECD.

General requirements of a practitioner:

* General health: You have to be physically and mentally capable of meeting all the demands when it comes to taking care of children. A medical certificate must be submitted for the protection of the children.

Personality traits:

* Caretakers need a real love for and an interest in children. You also need compassion and have an understanding heart.

* Patience is a virtue, even towards the most difficult child or a child with special needs.

* The ability to build up a relationship of trust with children is crucial.

* The ability to get along with fellow caregivers and with parents is also very important.

* You need to have the ability to build esteem while ensuring a safe and secure environment.

* Respect: Reflect a sensitive attitude to all children and have cultural awareness.

* Be flexible.

* Exercise fairness and consistency.

Responsibilities and tasks of specific positions

Childcare workers and day care workers:

Most workers perform a combination of basic cre, provide nurturing and carry out teaching duties. Most of their time is spent on care giving activities. There is, however, an increasing focus on preparing children aged 3 to 5 years for school. Many basic care activities are also opportunities for children to learn. For an example, a worker who shows a child how to tie a shoelace teaches the child while providing for that child’s basic needs.

Responsibilities will be different in each facility, but here are examples of a typical job description:

1.Plan and implement activities to meet the physical, emotional, intellectual and social needs of the children in the program

Provide nutritious snacks and lunches;

Provide adequate equipment and activities;

Ensure equipment and the facility is clean, well maintained and safe at all times;

Provide weekly and monthly schedules of activities;

Develop culturally appropriate programs and activities;

Develop activities that introduce math and literacy concepts;

Establish policies and procedures including acceptable disciplinary policies;

Be familiar with emergency procedures.

2. Supervise children in the day care

Ensure that children are supervised at all times;

Provide various experiences and activities for children including songs, games, and story telling;

Provide opportunities for sleeping and resting time;

Build children’s self-esteem;

Establish routines and provide positive guidance;

Provide a safe and secure environment for children to feel comfortable;

Implement positive discipline when required;

Clearly and effectively communicate in a manner that children understand.

3. Maintain program administration

Keep parents informed of program expectations, program activities and their child’s progress;

Develop and maintain current, accurate, and confidential client files;

Develop daily activity plans.

Preschool teachers:

A pre-school teacher’s primary responsibility is to teach. Preschool teachers help their students learn mainly through play and interactive activities. As a preschool teacher, you might use storytelling, rhyming games, and acting games to improve social skills, develop vocabulary or introduce scientific and mathematical concepts. Most preschool settings employ a less structured approach, including lessons in small groups, one-on-one instruction, and learning through creative activities such as music, art and dance.

Example of a typical job description:

Duties and responsibilities:

* Preparing lesson plans for the children on a daily basis.

* Preparing creative activities that the children can participate in.

* Planning games and outdoor activities the children can engage in.

* Monitoring the children’s progress and development.

* Preparing reports on the children’s development.

* Discussing the children’s progress with pother teachers and parents.

* Providing nutritious lunches and snacks.

* Developing activities and teaching programs that are culturally appropriate.

* Supervising the children.

* Comforting the children.

* Establishing routines.

* In-calculating discipline.

* Promoting early education and literacy.

* Reading books to the children.

* Attending to the basic needs of the children such as dressing and feeding.

* Teaching the children proper hygiene.

* Demonstrating learning activities to the kids.

* Maintaining complete and accurate records.

* Labeling and organizing learning materials.

* Planning and supervising field trips and class projects.

* Selecting, storing, and issuing classroom supplies, equipment and materials.

* Adapting the available teaching methods to meet the children’s needs and keep them alert and interested.


Salaries will typically depend on the establishment, the years of experience, level of education and location in South Africa.

Two popular websites where you can compare salaries are: and

Career path:

A career in preschool teaching has lots of opportunities for growth. With sufficient experience and training you can become a supervisor, headmaster, director or even open your own facility. Kep reading to find out more about the regulations and education requirements for these positions.