Educator - Pre-primary and Kindergarten

Pre-primary, pre-school or kindergarten educators play a vital role in the early development of children. What children learn and experience during their early years can shape their views of themselves and the world and can determine their later success or failure in society and affect their personal lives.

Pre-school children learn mainly through play and group activities. Pre-primary educators use play to further language and vocabulary development. In addition they lead children in activities designed to develop their physical abilities, communicative skills and interpersonal relationships. Examples of play activities would be storytelling, rhyming games, and acting games. Examples of creative play would be mixing and using colours to paint as well as dance, and music. As they grow, the play may take on a more academic focus as children begin to perform activities that lead to letter recognition, counting of numbers, and awareness of nature and science. They may also promote health and safety concepts.

Pre-primary educators are also acutely aware of the emotional development of small children and organise and supervise activities and games that promote self-confidence and social interaction with other children. They try to keep a balance of activities while also ensuring that children have adequate rest periods. At times, they need to attend to sick children and those in need of first-aid; comfort children who are hurt or distressed and assist children with their toilet training and other personal matters.

They need to watch for signs of illness or other problems and they evaluate and record the progress children make and discuss this with parents. They might make appropriate recommendations with regard to further development or detect signs of developmental disorder, ill health or emotional disturbance. They sometimes work with guidance officers, occupational therapists, speech pathologists and psychologists, to assist children with special needs.

Personal Requirements

  • have a keen interest in children
  • be able to promote and maintain good relations
  • and contact with young people and parents
  • have a good sense of humour
  • have a balanced and sober view of life and be
  • able to set a good example
  • have tolerance, tact, sympathy and patience
  • have a strong personality as well as emotional
  • stability and maturity
  • possess good health and stamina

How to Enter

Schooling & School Subjects
Compulsory Subjects: None
Recommended Subjects: Choose subjects you enjoy and would like to teach one day

Complete a matric (National Senior Certificate) meeting the requirements for a degree or diploma course. Each institution has its own entry requirements.

What to Study

Degree: at a university, students can first complete a bachelor degree of 3 or 4 years, depending on the course concerned, followed by a one year PGCE (Post Certificate in Education) for the foundation phases (grades R-3). Every institution will have its own subject requirements to qualify for acceptance. It is advisable to contact the institution at which you wish to study before making a final choice of subjects.

A second means of obtaining a teaching degree is via the Bachelor of Education or BEd degree which is offered by a number of universities and universities of technology. The Bachelor of Education is a 4-year degree. In each year of the curriculum, academic and professional studies are integrated with school-based practical teaching experience. The focus of this degree is on the Foundation phase and Early Childhood Development (ECD).

Qualifications in Education may be obtained at all universities.

Postgraduate qualifications, such as Advanced Certificates, are offered by UNISA, NMMU, UJ, US, UCT, RU, UKZN, NWU, UP, UFH, UV, UZ, WSU, Wits.

Diploma: diploma courses in teaching provide a practical and focused teaching qualification targeted at specific levels of education i.e. foundation phase (grades R-3). The teaching diploma is offered by a number of universities and universities of technology such as CPUT, DUT, TUT. A diploma can be upgraded to a degree at a later stage.

Certificate: certificate programmes are available for educators and community workers currently engaged in education and child care programmes. The minimum entrance requirement is Grade 12, with at least 3 years experience in early childhood development. Programmes are offered by the Centre for Early Childhood Development, contact: (021) 683 2420


  • government and provincial schools
  • private schools
  • self-employment, with own pre-primary school

Further Information

National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa
Tel: (012) 324-1365

Getting Started

  • try to obtain vacation or part-time work as a pre-primary schoolteacher’s assistant
  • arrange to speak to a pre-primary schoolteacher about this type of career.

Programmes by Study Institutions


Related Occupations

A day in the life of a kinderkarten school teacher

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