Sending children to preschool was once viewed as a luxury that only a small portion of families did. The latest research, however, shows that children even at the age of 2 can benefit tremendously from being in an appropriate preschool environment, one that understands child development.
Preschool provides young children with early opportunities to socialize, become independent, develop sharing skills and amass early literacy and language skills that are imperative for a child’s future success.
Having the correct fit between a teacher and child is also crucial. Through a teacher’s eyes, a child is seen from an impartial perspective. A trained teacher is able to remain objective about a child’s development, in reference to classrooms full of children through the years. A teacher can often ascertain a child’s strengths to further promote, and weaknesses that can be worked on in partnership with parents.
Parent-teacher conferences represent a great time to assess children’s development. Conferences also allow parents and teachers to meet formally, and often for parents to connect with their children’s assistant teacher. The teachers should be able to identify each child’s strengths and weaknesses, note progress and explain a plan to maximize children’s development.
As a parent, attempt to speak with all school professionals who associate with your child on a daily basis. Perhaps at drop-off or pick-up time, teachers can casually share an anecdotal story with parents. If this is not possible, teachers may call parents to reveal something special that happened that day concerning a child.
As a parent, I know how wonderful anecdotal stories make parents feel. Such reflection reassures you, the parent, that someone else is looking out for and acknowledging your child’s development. Many times when a child has a weakness that needs to be addressed, a teacher can suggest an evaluation to a parent. The evaluation may then lead to early intervention of various therapies in the case of special needs issues and learning difficulties. Early intervention and diagnosis make a world of difference in how a child may progress and benefit from therapies.
In addition to preparing children for school and other opportunities for further socialization, an empowering preschool environment informs children about each other’s differences to broaden children’s horizons. It is a place where children begin functioning in a small community and become aware of other people’s needs and perspectives.
Modeling religious and/or community values in a caring environment helps lay the foundation for children to become caring, generous and loving people who look out for each other and the environment. Preschoolers are our future generation who must be nurtured from the very start of their emotional, social and academic development.
As a parent and a preschool director, I feel so fortunate to be able to interact with my own children as well as the students in the preschool. The dual roles give me great perspective on the wonderful partnership that can occur between parents and teachers in order to maximize a child’s development.
Ways to Enhance the Parent-Teacher Relationship
- Always come prepared to parent-teacher conferences. Have a notebook and pen handy.
- At conferences, ask specific questions regarding your child’s development. Here are some examples: What is my child’s disposition like at school? What activities does my child like to be involved in? Which children does my child like to play with? Does my child have the appropriate skills for socialization at his or her age? Who would be a good friend to invite over to our home? Where do you see my child’s growth so far? What can we do at home to facilitate his or her continued growth, learning and development? How does my child react to circle time? Is he or she engaged in classroom discussions? How are my child’s gross motor skills? How are my child’s fine motor skills?
- Monthly newsletters and weekly notes serve as helpful ways to communicate with parents.
- At parent-teacher conferences, parents want to know about your curriculum and classroom activities, as well as specifics about their children. Consider keeping a folder on each child. These folders should contain anecdotal notes and samples of each child’s work. Start these folders in the beginning of the school year and refer to them periodically to show a child’s development.
- When speaking to parents of children who you think might need evaluations, never wait for a parent-teacher conference to discuss these issues. Discussions regarding evaluations should take place before the scheduled parent-teacher conferences, and allow for more time, preventing parents from feeling rushed or deterred from asking appropriate questions.
- Parents need to feel the support of teachers and the school director during the evaluation process. This partnership allows parents and teachers to work together on helping a child to reach his or her maximum potential. Children who are fortunate to benefit from this joint partnership may remain at the head of the class and empowered in their total development.