Preschool curriculum may seem fairly simple from a distance – learning how to wait your turn, being introduced to colors and letters, following directions from adults – all in preparation for kindergarten. But preschool can be a big adjustment for children, and a few bumps along the way are to be expected.
Fortunately Hamilton County is home to dozens of preschools staffed with experienced, empathetic teachers – like Donna Bobb from Kids of the Kingdom Pre-School at Carmel Lutheran Church. Bobb has taught for 33 years, and offers some practical solutions for parents dealing with common problems preschool children experience.
What’s the best way to handle a quiet child that is having difficulty making friends?
It is part of the age group. They are just starting to broaden their circle – it’s just the way they are made. It’s good to let the teacher know [if you feel this is a problem]. I always appreciate a heads up. Children often talk to a stuffed animal before a real person. I love to role play with the use of stuffed animals or puppets and it actually does help. Give children short phrases they can use because they are so new at language like, “Will you play with me” or “I want to be your friend.”
How can you help a child who doesn’t want to share?
Children are very egocentric, everything revolves around them. Often you can tell which parents have played a lot with them or which have a lot of siblings. Role play with phrases like, “Can I use that when they are finished?” or “When you are done, will you give that to her?”
For playdates at home, Bobb suggests putting out enough toys for the whole group, like Legos. Children can also decide if some toys are off limits for sharing, and put those toys away in advance.
What’s the best way to react to a child who is acting out?
Preschoolers are not good at language so they show emotions before they can put them into words. For example, even if they can’t say it, they just know they don’t feel happy so they may tip a chair just to get a reaction. If they are acting out at home, take a step back and ask yourself if things have changed, or if they might have had a rough start in the morning. I encourage parents to put emotions into small sentences which helps to affirm the emotions their child is showing like, “I see you are angry today” or “Can you show mommy what is wrong?” and generally speaking, they can.
What if a child simply doesn’t want to go to school at all and asks to stay home?
I encourage parents to walk the child in. Generate interest by asking, “I wonder what’s in your cubby today?” It’s helpful to have something to bridge the gap between home and school like a little handprint from mom pinned onto a backpack that the child can touch if they are feeling lonely or a note in their lunch box. A great book for children and parents to read together is Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes to help ease their fear.
Attending preschool is a major milestone for children – and a few issues with adjustment are not uncommon. To ease this transition and provide the foundation for a positive school experience, ongoing communication between parent and teacher is key. Preschool teachers want your child to thrive in their classroom as much as you do, so keep them in the loop with your concerns and draw from their wealth of experience to help guide your little one successfully through the process.