By David Cohen
Teachers make all the difference! Their skills, understanding of child development, preparation, and kindness will directly impact your child’s experience. This may seem obvious, but is sometimes overlooked. Here are some tips for families:
Share information generously about your child and family. When teachers know about your child (e.g. favorite things, fears, pets’ names) and about your family (e.g recent changes at home), they can create the most supportive environment possible for your child.
Communicate directly about your feelings. From day one, let the teachers know about your experience. Hopefully, this is your appreciation and admiration for how they are supporting your child. But, even if it is your concern or nervousness, they want to know. The earlier you communicate, the better the year.
Be interested and involved. When teachers send out newsletters and photos, take the time to read and comment. When teachers know that you are engaged, they are motivated to be their very best. Be the parent who brings in the requested recycling item or the needed change of clothing. It is noticed.
Partner to address issues. When issues arise, schedule time to discuss. Drop-off and pick-up times can be hectic and teachers need to be available for the children. A phone call or after school meeting can be very productive. This can also allow for the director to attend and support your process.
Show your gratitude. A thoughtful note or a token of your appreciation shows teachers that you see them as professionals who are supporting the development of your children. Mark your calendar for Teacher Appreciation events and bring your enthusiasm.
Model kindness. Remember that children are always aware of how we relate to others. It is how they learn to form relationships. If you show kindness and respect to the teachers, your child is likely to do the same.
Inspire confidence in your child. When you show nervousness about leaving the classroom, your child will also sense this. It may lead to your child feeling nervous. Instead, plan for a transition (quick or a few minutes) and then stick to your plan. Give a kiss, say goodbye and then trust the teacher.
As early childhood directors, we hope to have great relationships with you. However, we know that the teachers’ relationship with your family is primary and will determine the quality of the experience. During the upcoming teacher workshops, we’ll be reminding teachers about connecting with parents. When families and teachers are partners, your child wins!
Above and Beyond!
Take the opportunity in your child’s first years of school to be THAT parent – the one that teachers love!
Build a community in your classroom, scheduling play dates hosting parent social events.
Be an advocate when you hear someone complaining. Encourage them to speak with the teacher or director.
Spearhead a Teacher Appreciation event. Put yourself in the teacher’s shoes. What kind of day would cause you to go home and exclaim, “Wow, they really know me and appreciate what I do!”
Send a note to the director about the excellence that you see. These are very meaningful.
Volunteer. Each school has different opportunities, whether as committee members, classroom helpers or event planners. Your children will notice when you are engaged and committed to their school.
David Cohen is the Director of Schools at Temple Sholom, overseeing Selma Maisel Nursery School and the Religious School.