What your preschool teacher wishes you knew

Photo by ThinkstockWhen your child enters preschool, you realize that your work as a parent not only increases, but gets more demanding as well. You are called to participate in tons of school activities, plus you need to step up your parenting skills because your child isn’t just running around your house anymore, he is a part of something bigger: the exciting world of preschool.

To make your little one’s school experience even more rewarding, preschool teachers share what they wish parents knew and did for their kids.

1. Continue at home. It’s important that whatever your child learns in school is also reinforced at home. Former preschool teacher Anne Santos shares, “In school, we teach the children to say please and thank you at all times. This should likewise be taught and practiced at home.” This also goes for the concepts learned and the discipline practiced in school. “All concepts taught in school should be reinforced or reviewed at home so the child sustains the learning,” adds Santos. As for the form of discipline, whether it’s the “quiet chair, standing in the corner, or a time out—it's best that it's implemented the same way too.”

2. Have your child get enough sleep.
According to An-Marie Villarin, Managing Director of the Terrific Tots Preschool Program of The Little Gym, if your child gets adequate sleep, “It can thwart crankiness, boost energy, and increase focus and alertness.” In her book, The No-Cry Nap Solution, parenting expert Elizabeth Pantley says that most behavioral problems can be addressed by making sure your child gets the right amount of sleep. Check with your pediatrician how many hours your child needs and work from there.

3. Participate! Preschool teacher Mandy Filart says it’s important that parents “get involved in school activities.” It communicates to your child that you find school important and that you find him important too.

4. Clue in the teachers. If your child has diet restrictions or if you are potty training at home, Santos says, “the teachers have to be informed so they can also practice the same in school.” Consistency can only be practiced if both parties communicate and share the responsibility.

5. Be informed about your child’s development.
Read up on what your child’s developmental milestones are supposed to be for his age. It will ease your mind and let you know what to expect—or not expect. “It makes a world of difference when you are aware of what your child is going through because you will be less surprised, annoyed, and/or worried. You can also respond appropriately and have better days with your child,” explains Villarin. 

6. Do not compare. Most parents are guilty of this, but Villarin says it’s not a good practice. “Understand what ‘each child is different and unique’ means,” she says. “Observations that your child is different from a friend’s child, a classmate, or a sibling is fine, but it should not be used as a measuring stick. It is better to refer to what the child is generally expected to be doing at a particular stage of development (by knowing developmental milestones). This can also help in finding out whether a child has an actual learning disability rather than an erroneous one based on comparisons.”

7. Work with and listen to your teachers.
After a parent-teacher conference, Filart says is a teacher’s fervent wish that parents take the observations to heart and work on them. Villarin adds that she also wishes parents do the suggested activities that teachers send home with the children. Santos adds, “I wish all parents would realize that a child's education is not just the school's or the teacher's responsibility. Whatever is taught in school should likewise be reinforced at home. Consistency is key when it comes to learning—academics or values. We need to work hand in hand to make your children the smart, good-natured people we want them to be.”

Olivia has been writing ever since she can remember. She has written for health, teen, parenting, and children's magazines. Her latest endeavor is being a mom to her three-year-old daughter—her toughest assignment yet. Swap stories with her at threeolivias@yahoo.com.


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