Congratulations! You just enrolled your child in her very first school experience – preschool. This year (or two) before her public school career begins in earnest is not only a learning time for her, but also for you – the parent. Following is a list of “naughty no-no’s” that, if you read and put to use, will help you to help your child have not only a successful preschool experience, but will help you to ensure this success for her entire school career.
Don’t Call your Preschool or School Daycare
As teachers, we actually take offense to this. We are not just letting children “play” and taking care of their basic needs. We are working on weekends, late nights – minds constantly spinning on how to create a better learning atmosphere for your child. We are creating meaningful lesson plans for all, differentiating them so that EVERYONE in the class can learn. We create behavior plans to help those that need just a little “extra”…and if the plan doesn’t work, we try again. We go to meetings and conferences to further idea gathering to be able to always keep our teaching “fresh” and relevant.
Listen to your Child’s Teacher
We have either gone to school for years and/or have been teaching for years. We’ve seen a lot. We’ve specialized in HOW to teach the specific age group that we’re teaching. We’ll listen to you, too. You know your child better than we do in his home environment. But please remember, we know him in the school environment.
Check your Child’s Backpack Each Day
Go through your child’s take home folder or backpack. Preschool children work hard during their school day. They’re proud of what they’ve done. They want to show you their work. It’s also a GREAT time to reinforce what’s been being taught in the classroom. For example, your child just brought home a letter “D” covered in Dirt. You may just think it’s a dirty D…however, to your child, it was an amazing art adventure…the scooping of dirt (that he may not get to play with otherwise), the earthy smell, the gritty texture (all, by the way, enriching her learning experience, and making little brain synapses snap like crazy!), learning that Dirt starts with this letter D, a little dot of glue only lets you stick on a little amount of dirt, a “lake” of glue makes it all pour off and take forever to dry…you may even get lucky enough to get an amusing side story of how “Johnny” tried eating the dirt! What we as adults think of as the simplest things in preschool world, may possibly be the most amazing thing in theirs.
Preschool Communication: Keep Up
Check your email, information wall, or however your teacher has designated communication with you. I personally send home a daily email letting you, the parent, know a little of what we did during the day, school wide events that are happening, and classroom events that need attention as well. This information is critical. Very often, I’ve seen a little one break down in tears because parents didn’t read the email stating that it was “wear your jammies day,” or didn’t get to go to the park with her class because there was no permission given. This communication between you and your teacher is the best key to use to be in your child’s world. Use it.
Participate in School Events
School events are important to your child. She LOVES being able to invite you, the most important person in her realm of existence, into her life outside of you. There are many opportunities in a good school to do this. Field trips, family nights, parent teacher organizations, fund-raisers, just to name a few. It also means a lot to your teacher to see you interact as a family.
Realize your Child is NOT Perfect
This is a tough one, I know! We all like to think our children are angels, little Einsteins, and advanced far beyond their years. (I’ve been there myself!) While your child IS fantastic, there will be instances where he will do not so fantastic things. It’s almost guaranteed that your child will: hit, push, use mean words to a friend, and yes, even lie about it.
Please believe us when we talk to you about them. Also know, that when we do talk to you about them, it’s not a “tattling” time…it’s a “how can we work on this TOGETHER” time. And, while your child may be the “angel” or “genius” at home, please remember that the environments are completely different. Typically, your home is a smaller, more quiet world, with people she has grown up with. Your child is now in a noisy, colorful world with 15-20 other little people who she has to LEARN to get along with, and still be able to absorb the world around her. Sometimes that can be a tough transition.
Share your Concerns with the Teacher
If you or your child have a problem, please let us know. You can’t fix what you don’t know is broken. It’s OK to ask your teacher questions, or verbalize specific concerns about something that may be happening within the classroom. If you feel your needs are not being met within the classroom AFTER you speak with the teacher, your school’s principal is only a phone call away.
Don’t be a “Helicopter Parent
Yes, we know your child is very special to you. Your child becomes special to us, as well. But, please don’t hover. Your child needs to learn to function outside of the family unit. When you drop off, give your child a hug and kiss, tell him you love him and you’ll see him after school – then leave. You actually cause more trauma by showing your child that you are upset, too.
Children learn from you and your behavior as well. If Mom or Dad are upset, there must be a reason. They will cry…at first; you will cry too. But take it outside of the classroom. Feel free to listen where your child can’t see you. In about 5-10 minutes (or less) she will be done being sad and will be having fun. It takes about one to two weeks for a routine to settle in for a preschooler…the tears will flow, but as long as your child knows she is loved and that she will go home eventually that day, she will stop. Let your child grow.