How to interact with your child’s preschool teacher
You don’t want to come on too strong, but you don’t want to look like an uninvolved pushover either. What’s the best way to interact with your child’s preschool teacher?
Spend time in the classroom: Although you might be tempted to bust a move out of your preschooler’s classroom the minute your child is willing to let you go, if it won’t complicate her willingness to move on with her day or infringe on the class schedule (or make you woefully late for work), try and linger a little while at drop-off and pick up and any other time parents are welcome in the classroom (or on class trips) to get a sense of the class dynamics. This will allow you to gather information about your child’s school day directly, without needing to ask. You’ll be surprised at how much you’ll learn about who plays nicely with whom – and who doesn’t – in just a few short minutes. Be pleasant and friendly with your child’s teachers but not overly intrusive. Be willing to help but try not to get in the way. And when you’re picking up the vibe that it’s time for parents to leave, do so – promptly.
Ask specific questions: The best way to get information about your child from his preschool teacher is to ask specific questions. The teacher might not have time to give you a detailed response to a question like, “How was my child today?” But if you ask, “Who did my child sit next to at lunch?” or, “What did my child select for choice time?” or, “Did my child clean up promptly at clean-up time?” you may get some useful info and, over time, start to build a picture of how your child spends his preschool days.
Time it right: Be aware that preschool pick-up and drop-off might not be the right time to have a whole detailed conversation about your child: Your teacher has a lot of other children and parents to acknowledge and say goodbye to. Ask your teacher how she’d like you to handle questions – an email? a phone call? a note? – and follow her wishes. And be patient; she may not get back to you right away, but she should get back to you with an answer at some point. You want her to be in a situation in which she’s comfortable and has time to consider the topic you’re addressing.
Be respectful: Your child’s preschool teacher may be much younger than you or much older than you. She may be very different from you or remind you of your own sister. Regardless, she is a professional and is worthy of your respect. Treat her respectfully in all your interactions.
Couch a complaint: If you feel a preschool teacher could handle something with your child better, you should be able to let her know, but it always helps to put a complaint in context. Tell her how happy you’ve been overall and how much your child is learning and growing before you launch into your constructive criticism. And if you sense her getting defensive, don’t escalate. Back off and try a different approach another day.
Work together on problems: Think of your child’s preschool teacher as your teammate or colleague. Together you’re working to raise the best kids possible. If something’s not working, ask your preschool teacher how you might work on the issue in tandem.
Prepare for parent-teacher conferences: Take time to jot down specific questions you have for the preschool teacher before sitting down to discuss your child at the allotted time. Your child’s teacher will probably have prepared comments about your child. Let her go through them before you ask questions. Most of the time, the teacher will emphasize your child’s strengths, though she may also let you know if she has concerns. If she does, try to listen carefully and not get defensive. Ask detailed questions, and if you need more time, ask to have another meeting scheduled. Don’t overrun your allotted time; other parents will be waiting.
Give praise: Everyone likes to hear when they’ve done something well. If your child has responded favorably to one of the teacher’s lessons or activities, let her know!