Tuesday, October 4, 2011

10 Things You Should Know If You Have A Child In Preschool

1. The number one thing you can do to ensure your child is well taken care of at preschool is to be generous, communicative, patient and kind to your child's preschool teacher. Especially- but not only- when your child is non-verbal, a good relationship with the teacher is essential to understanding your child's day at preschool. Mistakes and miscommunications and problems will happen, but it's how you deal with it that matters. Lead with a smile. Or at least a friendly expression!

2. If you want to know if anything 'important' happened during your child's day at preschool, you have to a) define important to the teacher: tantrums? sleeping/not sleeping at nap? hitting? crying? moping about? Be specific. b) ASK. When a parent day in and day out comes in and out of school not asking how their child's day was or never asking follow up questions to a response of 'mmm OK', we mostly assume you don't really want to know.

3. If you want a complete answer to how your child's day was, be politely receptive to the truth. If every time we tell you, for example, ' She cried a lot today ' you get defensive and angry and blaming toward us, it makes it very hard to give you the whole picture when we talk.

4. Remember that the answer to ' But she/he never does this at home?! ' is almost always
' That's because they are at home. ' Not at preschool, in a much more demanding, noisy, and little people populated environment. Unless you happen to kick it like the Gosselins, you can't expect your child to act the same at home as they do at school. They will likely nap, eat, play and express frustration differently at preschool.

5. If you want us to change something for your child, like a rule, an environment or a response, please do it with the expressed understanding that things can only change so much for one child when there are so many, and offer up a solution that doesn't put an unfair burden on the rest of the class. IE: If your child won't nap at nap time, asking if he/she can silently read while laying down is OK, asking if your child can be taken outside to play is not.

6. Please don't ask us to work on something with your child that you can't or won't back up at home. If you want the paci gone, please don't pop it in their mouth to keep them from crying on the car ride home. It sucks for us, but most importantly, it sucks for your child. They can't adjust to inconsistent rules.

7. Realize that your child is special- just like every other child in the preschool.

8. Your child is going to get bothered by other kids occasionally- a biter, a pincher, a face maker- and at some point, be the one bothering someone else. Remember this when you decide how angry you are that Johnny hit your baby on the hand with a plastic truck. It's crazy humility making when the parent you were hating on in the preschool yard because their child hit yours is now the same one eying you because your child gave them an eighties asymmetrical haircut at nap time.

9. LABEL EVERYTHING

10. Remember to laugh. It's preschool, not college, not even middle school. They are babies, really, so let them be silly and exasperating and energetic and fussy and make mistakes, because that's how they roll. *Down the hill, ripping a big one in their pants the whole way.
Cid said...

Perfect. The only one I would add as a former Montessori Casa teacher is - if you want all the grapes you brought for snack individually cut up so no one chokes - do it at home!

lulumarie said...

WOW! If I had a pre-schooler I know exactly which teacher I'd love for her/him to have! Can you give a copy of this list to all the parents? It might give them pause to think. You are such an amazing parent, teacher, person. I love how you roll!

clearness said...

this is an awesome list! and I agree with you completely.

Marion said...

Well said, great advice. xo

Eva said...

as a former daycare/preschool worker, thanks for this! all so true. I miss it now.

Ida Mae said...

My child isn't in preschool yet, but this list is excellent Maggie!

Hannah Stephenson said...

You know, I hated preschool when I was little, and dropped out halfway through. I felt humiliated one day because the teacher asked us to name shapes, and she held one up, and I said, "Crescent," and she said "no, that's a moon shape." For some reason this really upset me (weird), and I was also very clingy with my parents when I was little, so this pushed me over the edge :). I fared much better as school went on....

Alexicographer said...

Great list. I agree with item 6 philosophically but haven't found "They can't adjust to inconsistent rules" to be true. Our first daycare provider took my son's paci away (not at our request) long before we did, and he was fine with that, even though he still used it with us. He now attends two different preschools (on different days of the week) and understands and accepts (as do we) that the different schools have different systems and different rules. But I certainly wouldn't expect the preschool teachers to work with him on things we're not willing to.

I'd add to 9 "...that you want back." I mean, I know I should label everything, but I do sometimes fall short, and I understand that things unlabeled are things unreturned.

shabby girl said...

LOVE this!!! It should be part of the Welcome newsletter before school even starts! :)

Sarah said...

I work with preschool aged children too in a church setting - I hate hearing "why is she crying - what happened!" She is 3, misses you, and needs to adjust a little thats why she is crying. We don't beat her when you leave the room I promise! Also a pet peeve is children who are 'potty training' many times at an innapropriately young age being left in our care with underwear on or they'll put a pull up on with underwear on top - what is that! It's just another thing to take off of them leaving more time for an accident. Great list, children are wonderful and awesome to work with - it's the parents that need an education most of the time!

Pacha said...

There are people who beat children in pre schools though. I like in Italy and this happens more than I care to know. I think it's normal to expect the mothers who suffer separating from their kids, as much as their kids do, to worry about who is caring for their child. No-one loves our kids as much as we do. That's nothing against the carers for our kids but just as the kids feelings/emotions (especially of kids who don't talk yet) need to be taken onboard in this kind of environment it is important that the maternal doubt and pain at having to leave a child behind to go to work needs to be considered. When it comes to parenthood not everything is logical and set to follow rules. I trust the people who care for my kids but it's normal to feel disorientated and confused at times. I find this list very helpful but it does risk sounding condescending to the pain/emotion that mothers go through because they need to go to work and would so love to be able to look after their kids themselves but can't. I wonder if you know how hard it is to have no choice in having to leave a crying child behind every morning in order to go to work and be able to provide the money that makes staying alive so necessary.

Just saying.

Let me add though that I love your blog Maggie May. I love your view on everything. I think you are rather brilliant. I'm not trying to be argumentative but just saying that not all teachers are so caring, thoughtful and lovely as you are. Unfortunately. I think the world would be a much better place if they were though!

Thanks for sharing the raw deal of life with us. I find your blog enriches my life.

Just saying.

anymommy said...

Eloquent wisdom for preschool parents. Thanks, Maggie, I need to read this once a month or so.

Caroline said...

Love the list! The the last one is my favorite--"Remember to laugh.." that is so important. I have seen so many parents take things WAY too seriously and I'm thinking, "This is Pre-school!!"

This is such a great thing for anyone with a pre-schooler to read!

p.s. my word verification is "Preescu" which is preschooler writing for "Preschool"! Ha! :))

Lone Star Ma said...

Nice!

Lauren Knight said...

Thank you! I have a preschooler and two more who will attend in the next few years... good to see different perspectives.

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