with author Guest Contributor
10 rules preschool teachers wish parents would follow
Friends of Ricki member Ruth Kaiser: I’ve been a teacher pretty much forever. You mommies reading this--I might have been your teacher. That’s how long I’ve been at it! And in all these years I am surprised anew by some of the common sense things that end up not being all that commonly known.
When I was a young mom taking my own kids to school, their teachers often asked if I was also a teacher. How did they know? I knew the ten things every preschool teacher wishes the parents knew. Since my preschool teacher taught me sharing was good, I want to share these 10 “must knows” with you.
1. Assuming you are comfortable with our policy regarding helping a sad, angry or scared child though separation, please trust us when we say it is time to go. That said, I would strongly recommend that you do, in fact, know how this most important issue is handled!
If you linger, show fear or apprehension, you send the message they still might be able to convince you to take them home. And like sharks smelling blood in the water, they will pounce. The longer you delay departing, the longer they will be in a state of turmoil. Once you’ve left we can get started on the business of settling in.
A confident (and brief) kiss, then GO!
2. Stayed up really late last night? We want to know. You can’t give us too much information. Be assured that the things you tell us won’t become gossip on the playground. Our wanting to know the skinny on your family is not curiosity about your private life but rather concern for your child. We want to know when their pet snail has died or when they’ve just witnessed their sibling have a meltdown. Dad lost his job? Mommy and Daddy have a big, noisy fight? Yep, they might not understand the ramifications, but they 100% get that something big and bad has happened in their world. Preschoolers worry just like the rest of us.
3. When your child has had a rough night or a rough morning and you wonder if they might be getting sick, stay home.
Yes, of course we will call you if they do become ill. But consider how this plays out in the classroom. It usually means that one teacher ends up sitting with and soothing your child until you can get there. In a busy classroom, being down one teacher for even half an hour completely changes what we can do that day. Art projects are scrapped, outdoor time is cancelled, trips to the potty are delayed.
And then the worst thing of all usually happens. The teacher who has lovingly held your child, ends up sick. That’s unfortunate for her, but even more so for the kids. Nothing rocks a preschooler’s world like arriving at school and seeing a sub instead of the teacher they know and love.
4. Label everything. What do I mean by everything? Actually, I mean everything. As in every thing. Get yourself a Sharpie and write your child’s name on the peel of their banana, the Ziploc of fishy crackers, the toy car they have in their pocket, their package of wipes and the insoles of their shoes. Everything! You can’t imagine how much this helps!
5. Preschools are a nut free zones. That means NO nuts of any kind! Take the time to read the ingredient list on everything you put in your child’s lunchbox.
And if you pack a sandwich made with soy or sunflower butter, we need to know that’s what it is! Take that Sharpie you used for number 4 and write that info right on the sandwich’s container! Otherwise we have to assume it’s a nut butter. We can’t let your child have it (no matter how hungry they are!). Sure, a teacher will undoubtedly share their lunch with your child. But good golly, Miss Molly, when lunch rolls around, I’m kinda gonna want to have that food I brought for myself.
6. Yes, we’ll cut up your child’s grapes, convince them to spit out their pacifier, put on their shoes and all the other things you didn’t get to because of your hectic morning, but we really don’t want to. We’re kind of busy. Just sayin’.
7. When we approach you about dealing with a behavioral issue with your child, know that we are on the same team! Helping your child to be more successful in the classroom is our only motivation. And although every child is different and you know your child best, please also remember that we have been in the trenches and helped hundreds of kids through hundreds of issues. This is probably your first experience dealing with say a biter. It will likely be the teacher’s hundredth time. The teachers should listen to the parents and the parents should listen to the teachers. That’s teamwork!
8. Arriving late to drop off or pick up, not good. Nuf said.
9. Skipping school, ditto. Occasionally blowing off a day of school no big deal. Doing it frequently sends the wrong message to your child. School is important and you model that belief (or not) with your attendance.
It is critical that you not skip days because your child tells you they don’t want to go to school. As long as you have ZERO, and I mean nada, zip, zilch, thought that there might be something actually bad happening at school, you need to be in charge of whether your child goes each day. I tell parents to think of coming to school in just the same way they do about using the car seat. It is not a topic with any wiggle room. One doesn’t discuss or bargain with a toddler about car seat use or school attendance.
10. Finally, and most importantly, we love your children. Not one of us became a preschool teacher because nothing else presented itself. Those few who might come to the profession from that mindset, don’t stay. Quite frankly the pay is too little, the regard by society is too low and you’ve got to really love kids a lot to deal with all the care taking of bodily functions that we do every day!
If any of this sounded crabby, like I might not like my job, please believe me when I say that is not the case. I LOVE being a preschool teacher. Daily, I experience profound amazement that I am so lucky to share with you the lives of your incredible children. I wish I could thank every mommy and daddy who ever entrusted their child to me.
One final thing, too important to put in any list: TRUST your gut. If your gut tells you something is not right about a situation involving your child, believe it.
Do you break any of Ruth's rules? Let's talk!
From preschool to high school, Ruth Kaiser is a lifelong educator/artist and owner of a chain of preschools through out the San Francisco area. The mother of three grown up kids, Ruth is also author of A Smiley Book of Colors [Random House] and founder of SpontaneousSmiley.com, an online art project where people worldwide share photos of smiley faces they find in everyday objects. Connect with Ruth on Facebook and Twitter.