Tuesday, June 25, 2013

What I've learned from my preschooler

Most parents don't remember what preschool was like until their children go to preschool--at least, that was the case for me.  After attending Little T's preschool graduation ceremony, I realized there is more important knowledge to be gained than ABCs and 123s .  Here's what I learned from my son's last two years in preschool:

1).  Patience is key.  This applies to both teaching it to my preschooler and practicing it for myself.  Children (especially preschoolers) are notorious for being impatient.  Nothing good will come from this, and if both my preschooler and I are impatient there's a big problem.  I need to practice what I preach.

2).  Preschoolers thrive on structure not just in school, but at home, too.  Three, four and five year olds benefit from a schedule that allows them to know what to expect each day.  This helps to alleviate anxiety about the unknown.

3).  Reward charts work wonders.  When preschoolers receive immediate praise (or stickers on a reward chart) for something they have done well, it reinforces good behavior.

4.)  Teachers love parents' help.  Chaperoning field trips, reading stories to the class and practicing at home what's being learned at school (like spelling and writing), supports the work of teachers and is beneficial for the kids.

5.)  Don't judge a book by its cover.  When Little T started preschool almost two years ago, he complained to me that a boy in his class was hitting him.  I asked his teacher about the boy, and she said he was less mature than the rest of the kids in the class and she was working to help him.  I was less than comfortable with her response and continued to ask Little T if he saw anymore misbehavior from the boy.  The hitting stopped about two months into the school year.  Little by little, I got to know the boy who couldn't keep his hands to himself.  He regularly sat next to me when I  volunteered to read to the class, and often hugged me at drop off and pick up at school.  Two years later, I now know this boy to be one of the sweetest kids I've ever met.  This fall, when my son attends a new elementary school, I will miss seeing the boy's huge smile each morning.

Although preschool wasn't perfect for Little T, I know that he and I will remember many more positive experiences than negative ones.  I'm trying to savor each minute of his childhood.  My mother keeps reminding me that he'll be in college with the blink of an eye.

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