Although three-fourths of all young children in the U.S. participate in a preschool program, that doesn’t always mean adjusting to this new routine is easy. Even if you’ve evaluated all of the available preschools for young children in your area and have decided on the best of the best, it’s not always smooth sailing. Many families find that this period of adjustment can be a real challenge. And because parents mainly have to rely on their preschool children to fill them in or on official communications from the school to alert them of problems, it can be tough to assess the real cause of any issues that arise. If you decide that talking to your child’s teacher directly is the best course of action, these tips can help you ensure that meeting is productive and positive for everyone involved.
- Request a time to meet: Quality preschool programs may offer smaller class sizes, but your child’s teacher will still have a lot of students to take care of during the day. Therefore, it’s not typically recommended that you try to have a quick discussion when dropping off or picking up your child. There will be too much going on for the teacher to devote their full attention to you; more than likely, nothing will be resolved to your satisfaction. Instead, request an appointment in advance to discuss the issue so that both you and your child’s teacher will have time to prepare and can really delve into possible solutions.
- Don’t be a helicopter parent: Many preschools for young children will have to deal with parents who swoop in to save their children from fairly ordinary situations. Although your instinct might be to protect your child and blame other students (or even the teacher!) for their issues, refrain from pointing the finger at anyone else or trying to shield your child from the world. Approach this meeting with a more balanced attitude. Share the positives of your child’s experience with their teacher to set the right tone for your meeting. Then, you can discuss whatever concerns you may have, providing that you’re dedicated towards collaborating on a solution. Check in with yourself to ensure you’re not being defensive or accusatory. Your child’s teacher wants your little one to succeed in the classroom and will be more receptive to your suggestions if you are conscientious and respectful in this meeting.
- Swap perspectives: When families drop off their little students at preschools for young children, they don’t get to see everything that goes on. If your child has complained about other students or staff members, keep in mind that you’re getting only half the story. Make an effort to combine your own behavioral observations with questions that can help you gather more information about how your child acts in the classroom. Your child may be displaying behavior at school that you really never see at home. When listening to the teacher’s insight, make sure that they truly feel heard. Rather than telling the teacher how to do their job, try to keep an open mind, make small suggestions when needed, and work together to come up with a game plan for boosting your child’s success at school.
When evaluating your preschool options, you probably decided on the program that would support your views on learning and prepare your child for grade school. But even if that program is one of the most respected preschools for young children in your area, your child may still have issues adjusting. If and when it becomes apparent that a parent-teacher conference is necessary, keep your cool. If you remember that this is a normal part of the process and that the teacher is there to help, these meetings will be much less stressful and much more constructive.