What Your Child's Preschool Teacher Wants You to Know Before School Starts
Preschool is a big step — up until now, your child probably hasn't spent too much time (or any at all) in a classroom with a large number of children, and likely hasn't spent too long being away from you or away from a nanny or daycare that they feel comfortable with. Along with leaving you for the day, they are also expected to behave and act differently than they do at home — and if this is your first child going to school, you might have a lot to learn as well.
We spoke to real preschool teachers and gathered up some tips on the most important topics, such as potty training and behavior, to get you and your little preschooler ready for the fun-filled year of learning ahead.
Help out with the separation element of preschool.
Teachers get it, you're leaving your baby — it's hard, it's a little sad, you want all of the kisses — but drawing out your goodbye only harms your child in the long run. Preschool teachers want you to:
- Emphasize all of the fun they're going to have at school* — ask your teacher what's going on when you get in if they need some extra, specific pumping up.
- Remind them that you or another loved one is going to be there to pick them up and have more fun at home later.
- Try to leave with a kiss, a hug, and a "see ya later!" only — if 25 parents all stayed for an extra minute, it would be chaotic for the teacher, and if one child gets to hang with their mom for longer than every other child, it would be unfair to the other children.
*If they're the least bit sick, they probably won't have fun at school — neither will their teacher, and neither will the other 25 kids and their parents who all get the same cold in the domino effect that follows — so keep him home if he's not feeling too hot.
There are very few preschool teachers who still want to be changing diapers — if any.
By four, your child should have some autonomy when it comes to the potty, and if they don't, there aren't really many teachers out there who will be too psyched about it. Before day one of preschool:
- Make sure your child has been potty trained.
- Encourage them to not wait until the last minute to prevent accidents.
- For boys, make aiming a priority when training.
- Teach them how to wipe (though if they need extra help, make sure they know to ask, rather than walk around with . . . remnants — and on that note, make sure they're coming to school clean, no matter how hard they beg you to skip their bath).
Things like good behavior and play look a little bit different at school than at home.
Sure, good behavior has a lot of similarities from home to school, but at home, there likely aren't 25 other kids sitting around, trying to get attention from one adult the way it is in school. The same thing goes for play and learning — your child has probably had playdates, or has siblings they need to share toys with, but at school there won't always be an adult directly over them reminding them to share or not fight over something. So remember:
- Good behavior and self control comes from modeling and reinforcement, so your child's teacher will do their part at school if you can do your best to encourage it at home (though your child's teacher understands that most of the time, children behave better in school because they are aware they can't get away with as much).
- Know that reinforcement for good behaviors might not look the same in school as it does at home, as teachers can't reward every child for doing anything and everything (not to say that this is what you practice at home, but again, it's easier to approach these situations with one or two children than it is with 25).
Support them at home.
There are a lot of ways to support your kiddo at home to make sure they are ready and excited for school every day:
- Work with them on numbers, letters, and other skills.
- Craft with them and be creative if you can make the time.
- Read the notes home that teachers send (you don't want your kid to be the only one who forgets to wear PJs on pajama day)
- Empty their backpacks and try not to freak out that glitter is going to be all over your house from their latest art project — they worked really hard on it!
- And most importantly, listen to their stories that go into mind-numbing detail about the day's Play-Doh activities. They'll only be this little for so long!
Trust their teacher.
It's hard sending your child to school for the first time, but trust the person you're leaving them with. A few things to note:
- If your child isn't happy, let their teacher know and trust that they won't get offended.
- If your child seems upset when you leave, they will do everything they can to soothe them and make sure they have fun.
- Know that they probably agree with you that the child that bit yours is a little bit too wild, but there is only so much they can do about that.
- When they tell you about your child at school, believe them! Children are often different at school, so take into account what your child's teacher says (the good things and the bad), and try to work with them on anything that needs to be addressed.