Talking to Your Child's Preschool Teacher
Establishing and maintaining an open, clear channel of communication with the preschool teacher can lessen many parental concerns.
Getting to Know the Teacher
When selecting a preschool, consider these factors: safety, cleanliness, general curriculum, overall philosophy, cost, and location. Try to meet the teacher before making your selection and make an appointment to visit the classroom. Watch how the teacher interacts with the kids, talk with the teacher, and ask questions.
While in the classroom, pay attention to how the teacher runs the class and how the children respond to his or her direction. If the kids seem happy and interact well with the teacher, chances are good that the teacher's classroom style will be a fit for your child as well.
When you talk with the teacher, ask about a typical day. You may also want to ask specific questions, such as, "If my child came into class crying one morning, how might you handle that?" or "How do you deal with a child who hits others?" Other useful questions might include how the teacher handles discipline, temper tantrums, toilet teaching, biting, or other preschooler concerns.
A teacher's answers can help you evaluate how creative he or she might be in responding to everyday classroom dilemmas. You can also learn a great deal from how responsive a teacher is to your questions. If the teacher appears defensive, uncomfortable, or uninterested while replying, that could signal future communication problems and may mean that the teacher and preschool aren't right for your family.
Some preschools schedule meetings during the year to discuss the kids' developmental and behavioral progress. Usually, these conferences cover play style and social, language, cognitive, and physical development.
A parent-teacher conference should be the time for listening and communicating openly. If your child's teacher has prepared a formal report for the meeting, let him or her go through it before asking questions.
Most of the time, a preschool teacher will emphasize a child's strengths. But the parent-teacher conference also offers an opportunity to point out areas that kids might need to work on. For example, a teacher may suggest writing letters, stringing beads, or practicing cutting skills at home to improve fine motor skills.
If the teacher has concerns about your child, try not to become defensive — this could make the teacher hesitant to discuss any problems for fear of confrontation. Try to ask direct and focused questions, with the assumption that any problems raised are ones that can be solved. Because of the limited time of most parent-teacher conferences, however, it might be useful to schedule a future time when any troublesome issues can be discussed in more detail.
If your work schedule doesn't allow you to attend conferences or if the preschool doesn't schedule them, you should feel comfortable making arrangements to speak with the teacher at other times. Meeting or talking regularly with the teacher will help you understand your child's progress and demonstrate your interest and cooperation.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
© 1995-2009 The Nemours Foundation. All rights reserved.
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