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The experience of working with preschool children is often enjoyable and rewarding, though some teachers are unsure of how to effectively communicate with anxious or concerned parents. A few simple tips for helping parents feel secure with the preschool environment can greatly benefit teachers.
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Common Parent Concerns
When teaching young children, instructors should prepare themselves for the instances in which they will be addressing parent concerns about preschool. Though a variety of issues may arise on the part of a parent, these concerns are among the most common during the preschool years:
Socialization concerns: Parents of children who have not attended playgroups or daycare in the past may worry about their child making friends and communicating appropriately with peers. Teachers may be asked to assist in the event of a child being teased or left out of playtime activities.
Academic concerns: Because preschool children can demonstrate a wide range of academic skills, parents may have concerns if their child is either advanced or behind in comparison to other students. Parents of academically advanced children may worry about issues such as boredom, while parents of preschoolers who struggle with certain concepts may request additional help from a teacher.
Behavioral concerns: Some preschool children have behavioral issues such as separation anxiety, inattentiveness, bossiness, or aggression. The parents of these children may experience stress at the thought of not being present when these behaviors occur, and may need to communicate frequently with the teacher.
Teacher/child interaction concerns: Occasionally, parents may have concerns about the relationship between the teacher and their child. Some parents may feel that their child is disciplined too harshly or is not receiving an adequate amount of emotional or academic support. Preschoolers who are members of a large class may have more trouble forming a one-on-one bond with a teacher than students in smaller classes.
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Teachers can take the initiative in promoting communication with parents by introducing themselves at the start of the school year and offering assistance with any concerns. In addition to writing a monthly newsletter that outlines the classroom schedule, teachers can use these methods in addressing parent concerns about preschool:
Daily notes/journal entries: Teachers can arrange to correspond with parents through daily notes about their child's day at school. Some teachers send home a journal that parents can use to respond with notes or questions as well.
Open communication through telephone and email: At the beginning of the school year, preschool teachers can provide parents with a telephone number and email address for communication purposes. Many parents who have concerns about preschool will be encouraged to know that they can easily contact the teacher if necessary.
Regular parent/teacher conferences: Preschool teachers can plan several conferences throughout the year so that parents have the opportunity to view their child's schoolwork and talk about their child's strengths and weaknesses. Parents who have pressing concerns can meet with the teacher more often.
Classroom visits: Teachers can encourage parents to take an active role in the classroom by requesting volunteers for holiday parties, field trips, or book readings. Often, parents feel more at ease when they have the chance to meet their child's friends and observe the day-to-day happenings at preschool.
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When addressing parent concerns about preschool, teachers should always strive to communicate in a positive and constructive fashion. Though unpleasant situations may sometimes occur, parents will generally feel comfortable having their child in the care of a supportive teacher.