Funny thing is . . . it is a break and I do love it!
I've been teaching preschool for 4 years now and I feel like I've finally gotten the hang of it. Before teaching preschool, I taught 3rd grade. COMPLETELY different in every way. I've been blessed to find a preschool (actually . . . they found me) that focuses on the child and not the final outcomes. I had no idea how diverse the abilities of 3 year olds could be until I started teaching them. I've had 3 year olds who are just developing their vocabularies to the point where you can understand them most of the time . . . and I've had 3 year olds who speak clear as a bell with vocabularies that would put some NFL players to shame. (Fantasy football draft tonight . . . it's on my mind) I've had 3 year olds who are struggling with the frustration that comes with developing your fine motor skills to the point where you can cut on a straight line and hold a crayon "properly" and I've had 3 year olds that can legibly print their first name. Diverse doesn't actually do the gap justice.
All that being said . . . I would like to give a few pointers to any parents that are headed into their first year of preschool (or really any year of school) with their kiddos:
1. Don't compare - just because your sister's kid was reading by the time she was 4 doesn't mean that your kid will or that she has to! Focus on what your child needs to improve on that is realistic and developmentally appropriate and help them improve. 4 year olds really aren't all suppose to be able to read and your child will learn to read when they are ready. Relax and realize that it's about your "baby" and not anyone (or anything) else.
2. Let your child take the lead - it's not always an easy thing to do . . . especially for us moms who are use to just taking care of things on our own and getting them done quickly and correctly. However, you have to make sure that you are letting them do things so that they learn a little independence. It is so hard to break the cycle of dependence if it goes too long! Help your child realize they CAN do things without you and give them the tools they need to do them well. Help them succeed but don't do it for them because that is just setting them up to fail when you can't be there.
3. Ask questions - ANY time you aren't sure about something or you are worried or you forget a procedure or something ASK about it! Remember to go to the right person, too! If you heard that there was some strange guy at school who was putting on masks and making funny noises . . . ask the TEACHER about it. There is a great explanation about it - Fire Safety week! So, before running onto facebook and posting, "Does anyone know who the strange guy at ***** school was today? My son said he was putting masks on." Go to the source and avoid causing any drama for the teacher.
4. Talk to your child - It's tough with 3 year olds to get them to say ANYTHING about their day. Have a list of questions that go beyond yes and no answers to help you find out what they did while they were away.
- What did you have for snack?
- What book did you read today?
- Who did you sit next to during calendar?
- What color was your teacher wearing?
- What did you play with in the play room?
- Who did you play with in the play room?
- What songs did you sing?
5. Finally, remember that your child's teacher is on YOUR side! I hate to see when a parent attacks a teacher for something. Granted, there are teachers out there who probably deserve it but give your child's teacher the benefit of the doubt and start the school year off together (as a team). Listen to your child but also listen to your child's teacher and remember which one has more incentive to lie to you . . . or at the very least change a few of the details. Take the teacher's side when you get the opportunity and show your child that you are a team. Support at home and parents and teachers that work together instead of against each other is an amazing recipe for success in school for your child!
There you have it . . . hope it wasn't too preachy.
Remember that you are your child's only consistent teacher - all of the other teachers will have them for such a short period of time. Make sure that you show them how important education is and help to build their strong characters early!
I'm getting really excited about all the learning that is getting ready to take place with my kiddos AND at the preschool! It's going to be a GREAT year!
*artwork by my daughter Danika! :)