What Makes a Great Pre-School Teacher?

Sometimes I sit in parent teacher conferences at my daughter’s pre-school and wonder if it’s a case of mistaken identity.

Who is this angelic good-listener they speak of? This child who readily helps others and always raises her hand or better yet places a “gentle hand” on the teacher’s shoulder to get her attention. It certainly doesn’t sound like my chatter box child who interrupts me so much that I once told my husband I would just talk to him in 18 years when the house is quiet.

But lo and behold it is my daughter. She has simply (as most parents find) fallen for the magic of a great pre-school teacher. It is one of life’s great mysteries how these amazing educators can draw the best behavior from our children.

Parenting.com recently published this article on the secrets of pre-school teachers and it’s worth a quick read.

I especially love #2 (kids can handle scissors and pens earlier than you think). I remember when my daughter came home from pre-school and asked to use the scissors. I couldn’t believe she could do this. I’ve been guilty of underestimating her time and time again. It’s not for my lack of confidence in her, but she just always seems so little to me (perhaps my subconscious wish to keep her this way).

I’ve found over the years the more I let her do, the better behaved she is. She loves the independence–whether it’s helping with dinner or riding a bicycle. Giving her this freedom is often the longer path to getting things done, but it builds her confidence, shows I trust her and is definitely one of the things she gets at pre-school.

Pre-school teacher secret #4 provides advice on how to get your toddler’s attention–what parent doesn’t need some assistance with that? It’s really hard sometimes to get our daughter to listen, yet this is one thing her teacher always tells us she does so well. Some of the suggestions like being more playful in our attempts to get her attention are super helpful.

Now I just need to channel a little early childhood educator patience to ensure the child I pick up at pre-school this afternoon is the same one who will be sitting at the dinner table tonight!

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