Thursday, November 17, 2011

Preschool Talk

I've been going on a few Preschool tours lately since I know pretty soon I will have to enroll my child in one. I've tried to listen in on how the teachers talk to the children and how they treat them, because after all, your child will be spending a long part of their days at school learning from these surrogate parents.  Preschoolers and toddlers are little sponges as parents know, soaking up new things every single day.  Researchers say that their little personalities are mostly formed by age 6, so I take that to mean that the first 6 years of their lives are super important!  They learn right from wrong, empathy, compassion, how to get along with others, etc. etc.  So with that in mind, we really need good role models and teachers to help during this critical time in their lives.

So as I have been listening to some of the teachers at these schools, let's just say I heard a few things that were not exactly child-centered. Now, I know that these teachers don't have to hold a masters degree in education, but I took classes as an undergrad in Child Development where we learned how to talk to children in a child-centered way and how to discipline them in a preschool setting (we took it a step further in grad school, but most of it is the same principal).

Associate degrees in child development teach the same things too.  And if the teachers don't have an associates, then at least teacher trainings should cover this too, right?  Get my drift?  It's something that most of these teachers should already know!  Aren't there training seminars at these schools on how to talk to children in a preschool setting? It shouldn't be THAT hard for these teachers to learn.

In my classes back in college, we learned things like when a child is standing up on a slide, instead of saying "Don't Stand Up on that!," to say, "We sit down on slides" or "slides are for sitting on."

Basically we learned to say, THIS is what you can do vs. DON'T and No!  To not start your sentence off with these negatives: "stop, don't, sit, no, etc."

And remember my post on being silly?  You can get a lot more cooperation from children when you are being silly.  Just another approach to working with kids.  Like when a child is upset because they want a toy and someone else is playing with it, you can talk in a silly voice and say, "Awh Mia, I can see how much you want to play with that toy and it's just so hard to wait your turn, if I could wave a magic wand and get one for you I would, but I think the tickle monster might get you first!" as you chase her around the room.

Besides an occasional punch thrown, or an intentional biter, what is the worst thing about kids in preschool?  So when I heard a teacher snap at a child, because their little rear end was not fully sitting on the floor during story time, was that a reason to snap "Sit down right now!" or "Stop that!?"  Yes, unfortunately those were commands I heard from a teacher while visiting.  And to me, that was a mild situation, mild.

Or hearing from another room, "No"...."No, I said no!, Stop it!"  I don't know what was going on behind closed doors, but really, what could cause those sharp commands? What if the child was standing up on a chair? Okay, then a calm little redirection is all that is needed, "that chair is for sitting on, they are not for standing on."  And then the teacher can redirect them to another toy or redirect them to a place where they ARE allowed to stand up.

Now I know there are more situations and problems that can go on in preschools, and it may not be an easy fix every time, but I'm telling you, the situations I saw were teeny tiny and not even worth all the fuss these teachers gave.

I don't want my child to be around such strict, mean talking militant teachers during the day.  Plus, is this how I want my child to learn how to resolve a conflict?

My little discoveries at these schools have my curiosities going! I was lucky enough to catch these mishaps during my visits.  Now I want to sneak in and walk the halls at other ones without a chaperon to see how much more I can hear. But I have a feeling they won't let me.  Maybe I can use the excuse to take my child to the bathroom and secretly go the long way so I can listen in on some of the rooms. Because I am sure that the directors give the teachers a heads up that morning, "We have some prospective parents coming in today, please put on your smiley faces, use your nicest voices and pretend your children are perfect little angels," :)


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