In an effort to bridge the parent-teacher gap, ParentingPortal.org contributor explored what preschool teachers at daycare centers wished parents knew and how to help their young children. Here’s what she had to say:
I have something to say about the “battle” between preschool teachers and parents. As a previous manager at a daycare center myself, I have been there. And now that I have a child of my own, I’ve come one full circle.
Why exactly are we fighting one another? Let’s find out exactly how preschool teachers at daycare think and what they really want to tell parents.
1. Know the value of reading outside of daycare.
Most teachers at daycare note that even though parents swear that they are making their children read at home, they aren’t seeing the evidence of that in daycare.
Children won’t be good writers if they’re not good readers. This is also true of math. If you don’t allow your children to help make a change or do flash cards for multiplication facts, then you’re expecting all of that learning to take place at school.
Parents need to take some of the responsibility of helping their child at home. I’ve heard from many parents telling me before “It’s YOUR job to teach. I don’t have to do that.” That is exactly the wrong attitude towards education. They learn from home first.
2. Parents need to separate their own learning styles.
My friend who is also a parent-volunteer suggested that parents who are helping their child at home and find the task frustrating should consider that they aren’t teaching to their child’s style. My own daughter is such a different learner than I am.
Avoid putting your learning challenges on them and say this phrase in front of them: I was never good at such-and-such so she’s not going to be, either. Not true! Lots of children are completely different from their parents.
So what if I wasn’t good at history in high school or I hated it? That’s no reason to give my child the excuse to lower their expectations of themselves.
3. Check to see if extra interventions are necessary.
A school principal I talked to admitted that too many kids are being sent to Kumon or other tutoring services when they don’t actually need it.
Some could use the enrichment while others might need some extra help, but parents spend a lot of effort sometimes in helping their child when it truly just stresses them out unnecessarily.
Teachers have the expertise to provide those interventions and challenges when students need them. Just ask them.
4. Come to PTC with an open mind and a willing attitude.
The approach to finding success for children may be different, yet we have to work together as a team to achieve academic success.
In my 6 years as an educator, I have seen this one every year around parent-teacher conference time. A parent is frustrated and angry with a teacher for something their child isn’t able to yet accomplish at school. Teachers really do have the best intentions when it comes to teaching, but if you show up on the defensive, it impedes our ability to accomplish anything.
5. Allow us to hold your children accountable
This goes for both their behaviour and for their academics. When parents come in and “play lawyer” having only heard the version set forth by their child, it doesn’t even allow us to set boundaries. I have had parents tell me that I’m not allowed to discipline their child the same way that every other student gets disciplined by our school rules. Tying my hands isn’t going to help. Discipline actually comes before a child does something. A consequence comes afterward. When teachers have gone through the trouble of setting up their classroom and getting students to abide by those rules, it’s damaging to watch only one child get away with not having to follow them.
6. College isn’t the only answer to post-graduation.
Pushing children in that one direction exacerbates the academic failure that is prevalent in schools today. Many professional teachers can attest that their former students have experienced career success without having a college degree. When this issue is pressed onto the educational system and becomes solely their culpability, teachers feel a burden that’s beyond the stress of the demands they already feel. College is great and fine and nice, but it isn’t for everyone. Don’t be offended if teachers suggest as much.
7. Don’t keep important information to yourself.
Tell us what your child needs and what works for them at home. An educator shares that when teachers don’t know about the struggles a child has, it can penalize him or her and also make it difficult to instruct them. Don’t make us reinvent the wheel if you already know what motivates your child. If something works for you at home, let’s try it at school, too. Conversely, ask us what you can do to help us instead of asking, “What are YOU going to do to fix this?”
8. Please listen. We are here to help your child.
When we tell you that something is going on, please don’t go on the offensive of not my child. Children find themselves in situations over which they have no control and without giving in to the possibility of other factors in control over their lives.
These emotional, social, and academic concerns aren’t a way to blame your DNA for a broken child. Trust us when we say that we think something else is wrong. When we look at the whole picture and do it from the vantage point of a professional team, we are far better equipped to put things in place that will be helpful in the classroom. We’re not blaming you; we’re helping your child.
9. Don’t tell us this: “Well, he doesn’t do this at home.”
Well, naturally. We don’t expect your child to have the same behaviour everywhere. We have different expectations for our children at church and in the grocery store. The water park and a funeral home.
Unless you’re asking your son or daughter to learn, listen and be engaged for extended periods of time while you’re assessing whether or not they’re learning, don’t tell us they don’t do the same stuff at home.
Unless you are working with 30 other children at home and trying to get them to all learn the same thing and then assess it, then you can’t make that assumption that these two different locations will garner the same behaviors from your child.
In summary, do remember that teachers are professionals with lots of training, college degrees (many with post-graduate degrees!), and on-going professional development. Often, I liken this to how you would treat your general practitioner and the respect that they get in their offices from you as a patient.
Teachers are doing an amazing job of instructing a variety of different learners in their classrooms and feel beaten down when parents view them as the enemy.
The teachers don’t expect you to agree with everything they do or expect from your child, but they do deserve to be listened to as professionals.
Educators spend a lot of time trying new things and accommodating in the classroom, but they don’t always receive the courtesy of a professional. A respectful attitude toward your child’s teacher goes a long way in how your child acts in the classroom.