Have you ever looked at those Pinterest teacher gift suggestions and thought to yourself, “I wonder if a teacher actually wants something like this or if they’d rather I just give them a gift card”? Now, have you ever wondered about what a teacher wants from parents outside the realm of appreciation presents? Teachers, particularly pre-school teachers, don’t go into the field for the glory or the money, they go into it because they have a passion for it and that means they want to make a difference, but they can’t do that without the parents help. They want parents to be involved, but in a way that’s helpful, not demeaning.
10. DO: GET TO KNOW THEM
Your child’s pre-school teacher is (gasp) more than just a teacher. As it turns out, they have a life outside of their job which often impacts who they are as a teacher and the lessons they teach. Your child spends so much of their time with this person (who has likely grown to really love your kid) so they want you to know who they are as a person and as a teacher. No two teachers are exactly alike, and when you understand your child’s teacher, you’ll be able to better understand their teaching style and trust them a little more.
9. DON’T: EXPECT AN EMAIL REPLY AFTER HOURS
Your child’s teacher may have a great relationship with you and love your kid (your kid may even be their absolute favorite) but that doesn’t mean your child is a higher priority to them than their own life. You don’t want to have to answer work emails or calls after hours, and neither does your child’s teacher. You’re welcome to send them messages during those hours if that’s the only time you are able to do it with your own personal schedule, but don’t expect a reply until the next business day.
8. DO: ASK FOR WAYS TO HELP YOUR CHILD AT HOME
Teachers love parents who are engaged and want to help their child succeed. When a parent actually shows interest in their child’s education, teachers know that the child has a much higher chance at succeeding and mastering a skill than a child whose parents aren’t involved. So, if you’re interested in figuring out what the kids are doing in class so that you can help encourage the same behavior/lessons at home – ask! The teacher will be happy to fill you in and give you tips for helping at home.
7. DON’T: BLAME THEM FOR YOUR KID’S BEHAVIOR PROBLEMS
As much as your pre-school teacher is trained and knowledgeable in running a class full of crazy kids, they’re still human and there’s only so much they can do to control individual behavior. If your child’s teacher sees misbehaving, then they will do whatever they can to correct it, but the fact is that there are usually 6 kids to one teacher and they only have so much power. Your child will likely pick up bad behavior from other kids in class, and other kids will pick it up from your child, too. Don’t blame the teacher, instead, just send a note letting them know you’re working on this behavior at home and you’d like their support to watch for it in school. Chances are good the teacher will be more than happy to help.
6. DO: STAY INFORMED ABOUT WHAT THEY’RE TEACHING IN CLASS
Even if you don’t have the capacity to further lessons at home for your child, staying up to date with what your kiddo is learning in class is a huge help to teachers. If you know they’re working on using forks and spoons, you’ll be more likely to give your child utensils at home so they don’t go back to old habits of using their hands. Staying up to date helps your teacher help your child stay aligned with its classmates and not fall behind in development. You don’t have to come up with an inventive craft that will leave your kitchen covered in glitter, you just have to help establish consistency.
5. DON’T: EXPECT THEM TO TEACH YOUR CHILD EVERYTHING
Don’t put your child into preschool thinking they’ll do all of the parenting for you. You will still have to teach your children a lot, and the teachers will then supplement that learning in the classroom. For instance, it’s not their job to devote 100% of their attention to your child for multiple days so that they are potty trained. That’s on you. What their teacher will do is support you through that process by getting rid of diapers and changing your child’s clothes numerous times a day when they have accidents during the process. Parenting is still on you, no matter how much tuition costs.
4. DO: DONATE TO CLASS PARTIES AND SUPPLIES
It’s not a secret that teachers don’t make much money. Pre-school feels different since you’re paying for it and it’s not a free program provided by the government (if only..) but the fact of the matter is, most of that money goes to the center’s owners, not the teachers. Your child’s teacher likely dips into their own salary to purchase fun things for the classroom that the school doesn’t provide. To help them out, purchase some age-appropriate materials as a gift or give them an Amazon gift card for them to use for their next fun project. It will show that you respect what they do and you want to do what you can to support them in educating your baby.
3. DON’T: GET MAD IF ANOTHER CHILD HAS TO USE SOME OF YOUR KID’S DIAPERS
It can feel really frustrating to get a note from your child’s pre-school seemingly every other day asking for more wipes and diapers. You will likely start to wonder how in the world you can find time to stop by Target again to pick all of this up. Then, you’ll see the teacher giving one of your child’s diapers to another kid and smoke will very likely be coming out of your ears with rage. It’s the worst. But, try your best to remember that last week, when you had late meetings every day and didn’t have time to stop at the store, your child came home in someone else’s diaper once or twice. If you see this happening, think of it as you supporting another mom during a difficult time, not that the teacher is unorganized or just giving your child’s things away at will.
2. DO: TALK TO THEM WHEN YOU’RE FEELING UNEASY
If there’s anything bothering you about the way the classroom is run or how your child is acting after school, you should absolutely go to the teacher to discuss it. They will very likely prefer that you come talk to them so that they can explain their own methods, what the purpose of a certain lesson plan is, why they haven’t reported your child’s behavior, etc. They know what they’re doing and there is almost always a method to the madness. Don’t go over their head and talk to the director (unless you feel your child isn’t safe) unless you’ve made an effort to speak directly to the teacher.
1. DON’T: TREAT THEM LIKE A BABYSITTER
Look, everyone understands that you’re paying for pre-school out of your own paycheck which may make you feel a little more entitled to a certain level of “service” from these people. It’s true, you are getting a service and you are a client, but even though you’re spending so much money you have to remember that so is everyone else at just about any other pre-school in a 20-mile radius. Your child’s teacher is not a babysitter that you can boss around, they are there to educate your child under the guidelines of the school you selected. If you want a personal nanny, invest in one, otherwise treat your child’s teacher as a teacher.