Parenting is a learning experience that includes dealing with sending your child to school and everything else that comes with it. This makes sending your child to school for the first time a very exciting one and it can be a challenge leaving your child to the preschool teacher – someone that you and your child don’t know very well.
As parents, we know we are experts when it comes to our children, but it is good to remember that our children’s teachers are our partners in helping our children grow and develop to their full potential. Every preschool teacher has encountered various kinds of parents – from the relaxed and laid-back ones who fully entrust everything to them, to the very involved and hands-on ones who choose to have a large say in their child’s school life. Communication is important just like in any partnership and parents are always encouraged to communicate with their child’s preschool teacher.
We asked a few preschool teachers about things that they want to communicate to many of their children’s parents.
1. Each child is unique. Some parents fall into the trap of comparing their child with other children. Even those who have several children often cannot help but make comparisons among their kids. It can be quite difficult not to do this, but parents should not make other children a benchmark for how their child is doing.
Teacher Celine Estacio, a Kindergarten 2 Teacher at the Reedley International School, has this message for parents, “Parents need to know that each child is unique. They develop at their own pace and have a distinct skills set. It is quite common for parents to use their eldest child's progress as a benchmark to determine whether the other kids are developing at the ‘right pace’. They have to understand that the right pace is their child's own pace, and what worked for the first child may not necessarily work for the second or third. Some parents would expect their second child to be able to read by age 4 just because their eldest has done so. Expectations like this need to be avoided as it can put pressure on their kids when they reach school age.”
This, of course, applies to comparing your child to a classmate. Even if they are all under the supervision of one teacher, each child learns and develops differently and this is okay.
2. Accidents in school do happen. It is quite understandable for parents to worry and feel bad when something happens to their child while in school. However, minor accidents may still happen no matter how vigilant the school and its teachers are.
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Diana V. Cruz, a former preschool teacher at Holistic Education and Development Center, says, “Children may have little bumps and scratches in school or be hurt by classmates who are still learning to express themselves properly. Competent teachers try their best to prevent these things from happening but even with the best effort, they still happen. Unless incidents like these happen more than three times in a very short period, please consider that these can be great opportunities for the kids to learn adaptation skills, resilience, tolerance, and forgiveness when properly processed with the children.”
For every accident that happens, it will be good to remember that the teachers also sincerely regret the incident – and most of them really do feel responsible regardless of what happened.
3. There is more to school than just academic excellence. Many parents tend to focus on the academics even as early as their child’s preschool years. The growth of progressive education has opened up a lot of parents to more than just academic excellence, but there are still a lot who tend to focus on that as a goal.
Teacher Criselda D. Reyes, owner of Today for Tomorrow’s Learners Preschool and Tutorial Center, has this to share, “I would want the parents of our school to remember that in as much as academic excellence is important in this competitive world, coping skills and back-to-basics value system such as patience, being fair, respect, and putting others’ welfare ahead of one's own, are equally important.”
There is a whole lot of learning that children experience in school. After all, they go to school not just to get an award at the end of the school year. They learn many things and develop various skills and most of these go beyond the academics.
4. We can tell you more about your child than just grades. Your child’s preschool teacher spends a lot of time with your child, so expect her to know a lot about your little one. Unfortunately, some parents, with their focus on academic excellence, tend to inquire about their child’s grades only as a gauge of how their child is doing in school.
Josephine Lahoy, also a teacher at Holistic Education and Development Center, says, “Do not be grade-conscious. Grades are mere numbers… anyone learning makes mistakes.”
Teacher Diane also adds, “Socio-emotional development is more important than academic skills at this point of your children's lives. During parent-teacher conferences, be more interested in learning how your children interact with classmates and adults in and out of the classroom, their resilience level, aptitude in learning, and attitude in doing tasks.”
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Preschool teachers have a lot of stories about the children that are left under their care and most of them will be more than happy to share these stories with you. Take the time to get to know them, and you'll surely gain a better understanding of your child, too.