When we have taken pains to select the best possible preschool for our kids, it can sometimes come as a surprise to realise that despite the adults’ best efforts, our children are not quite getting along with one of their teachers. They may drag their feet when going to school or may refuse to even greet that teacher or make eye contact with them.
If you are sure that the teacher has been doing her best with your children, what can you do as a parent to help your child?
Support your child emotionally through a big transition to childcare
Often, children who have not felt prepared for a big change in school can show a lot of resistance to new teachers. This can happen when they start at a new school or when they move to a new class at the beginning of the year.
Change can be very bewildering and unsettling for many children as they need stability and certainty to thrive. In order to minimise any fallout from big changes, do remember to prepare your child way beforehand.
It is always helpful to talk through big changes with children as much (and as early) as possible. Bring up the idea in casual conversations and make it sound positive and exciting. Include your child in preparation for the new school or class by asking them what items they may need for the new school year and bringing them shopping to choose for themselves. This grants them some autonomy and power which helps to ease their concerns.
Don’t forget – the conversation should be a two-way one. Ask your children if there is anything they want to know or ask, and address their concerns seriously. Empower them by running through probable scenarios (e.g. what happens if you need to use the toilet? What should you do?) and helping them work out how they can handle these eventualities. Remember that what may seem simple and instinctive to you can be a scary thing for a small child.
Stay positive and open about your child’s preschool or childcare teacher
Parents, understandably, often rush to take their children’s side if their kids come home complaining about something a teacher has said or done that upsets them. However, try not to immediately leap to support your child’s negative view.
Children are naturally sensitive and observant, but they very often lack the ability to contextualise the situation, or do not tell you the other things that happened to contextualise the scenario. Sometimes, they misunderstand or misinterpret something that their teacher has said.
One parent recounted how her daughter returned from her childcare centre, remarking matter-of-factly that her teacher had pushed and grabbed a boy in her class. Alarmed but cautious, the parent asked some clarifying questions while keeping her tone neutral so as not to alarm her daughter unnecessarily.
In the end, after lots of open conversation, the parent found out that the teacher was preventing the boy from walking into a puddle of water on the floor, for fear of the boy falling down. In fact, the little girl had understood this, but the worried reaction of the teacher had been the most striking part of the encounter to her.
Jumping to conclusions and reacting quickly can often increase a child’s anxiety and make them less open to working on the relationship with the teacher.
Children may be reacting to the subject rather than to the teacher
Chinese teachers are often unwitting victims of children’s dislike because the children may not be keen on speaking another language. Some of them do not use Chinese at home and get frustrated when their teacher speaks an unfamiliar language to them.
Children starting in a Chinese immersion preschool may sometimes react this way, but teachers often counsel parents to give it some time. Once the children are able to get used to the idea of speaking Mandarin on a daily basis, and when they absorb the language through daily use, they will gradually come round. Furthermore, with a little bit of time, teachers are usually able to win new children over with their loving hearts and care.
With some patience, you will soon see your child skipping off to school and greeting their teachers with joy and excitement for the new school day.
Written by Danielle Hee
Are you looking to enrol your child in a childcare centre?
Find out what goes on during the day at MindChamps PreSchool and MindChamps Chinese PreSchool. Click on the buttons below to book a visit to your preferred centre!