Elementary education encompasses training students in literacy and math, among other subjects. This is accomplished through methods including direct instruction, collaboration with other teachers and parents, and encouraging students to work independently. Elementary school teachers usually work with children in first grade through eighth grade.
To be successful in an elementary education role requires a variety of skills. Effective communication is perhaps the most important skill that any teacher must have. Teachers must communicate with their students, parents and other teachers to effectively manage classroom behavior and instruction.
Patience is also a necessary skill for teachers. Teaching can be difficult at times, especially when dealing with children who are still developing their social skills. It takes a great deal of patience to be able to effectively teach many students at once.
Teachers also need to be organized and efficient to keep up with the different daily expectations. This might include creating lesson plans ahead of time so they can spend school hours teaching, or it may involve research to determine future subjects and instructional methods.
As of May 2021, kindergarten and elementary educators earned between $43,950 and $99,420 each year, according to BLS. This salary range does not include special education or substitute teachers. This range is higher than that of early education, and there’s potential for additional increases if a teacher holds a master’s degree. Staffing shortages have prompted many districts to increase wages to incentivize teachers to return to work and bring in new employees.
The overall employment rate for elementary educators is projected to grow 4% from 2021 to 2031. This projection does not factor in current staffing shortages. BLS anticipates this number to vary based on district and state budgeting, which is currently aimed at retaining current educators and attracting new teachers nationwide.
Early childhood vs. elementary education: Which career is best for you?
Both early childhood education and elementary education are important paths to consider if you are interested in working with children. There are certain factors to consider in choosing between the two.
The first is whether you want to work with younger or older children. Early childhood educators work with children up to 8-year-olds, while elementary school teachers typically work with kindergartners through eighth grade. Elementary school teachers also have more flexibility in terms of subject matter than early childhood educators, who focus on developmental learning and socialization.
Another factor to consider is what type of environment you prefer to work in. Early childhood educators typically work in day cares or preschools, while elementary school teachers work in school classrooms. Both positions involve working closely with families, but the types of relationships vary depending on the age group and where children are being taught.
Finally, it’s important to consider other careers beyond early childhood education and elementary education — secondary education, as well as special education, are fulfilling options for teachers interested in educating older students.
For either career choice, there may be opportunities within the education field after pursuing a master’s degree in education. These could even include roles as a principal, administrator, curriculum director or instructional designer.
Education programs at University of Phoenix
Whether you are taking the first step in your journey toward a career in education or looking to expand your existing knowledge and skill set, University of Phoenix offers a variety of degree and certificate options. These include: