Reflecting on the parents of preschoolers

by Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. on January 6, 2011

in On becoming a Professional, Parent Communication, Professional Development

This is Wy, my nephew, and his mommy. They were over at my house on New Year’s Day and while they read a book together, I stepped back and observed (with camera in hand).

The book they were reading was one that Wy’s mommy had bought for him. Each page is illustrated with wonderful textured photos that Wy loves to feel with his hands as his mommy reads aloud to him.

And as they turn the pages of the book – Wy’s mommy talks about the pictures and Wy smiles as he listens to his mommy’s voice.

As I watched Wy sit and read with his mommy, I was reminded of how important families are to young children.

Oh, they have their ups and downs as a family like we all do – but Wy needs his mommy and his daddy more than I can express.

And after they finished reading their book, it was time for Wy and his mommy to head on home.

So Wy, still in his pajamas from spending the night with me, slipped on his fun new hat and his cool cowboy boots and gave me a hug goodbye so he could go home with his mommy.

So what will they do when they get home? Oh probably take a bath, eat some lunch, run errands, play with some toys, take a nap, watch some television, and start all over again through the evening. Nothing much, nothing profound – they will do just what families do – be a family and take care of each other the best they can – just like we all do.

Reflections

One time, years ago, I had a parent of one of my preschoolers come to me and express her concern that I thought she was not a good mommy. I was so surprised that she felt this way. I did not know that somehow I was sending her a signal of disapproval. But I assured her that I slept well at night because I knew in the bottom of my heart that my students all go home to parents who love them and care for them – including her.

Another time, years ago, I had another parent come to me with great worry that every time she came to pick up her daughter, her daughter would throw a fit in the car almost the whole ride home – but once they were home, she was fine again. Mom felt like she was doing something wrong or wasn’t meeting a need. I reminded mom that adults and children all feel some level of stress when they are apart from their families all day. So when her daughter is in the car after a long day at school where she has to follow rules, share, stay on a schedule, and be with 15 or more other children all day, she is bound to need some stress relief.

For her daughter, it seemed like the best place to release that stress was in the comfort and security of mom’s car.

I came across a blog last year where a preschool teacher ranted and raved in just about every post how awful her infant room parents were. As I read her extremely poor perspective of the parents whose babies she cared for, I was disheartened. The blog has since been closed down.

The moral of this story…

I am a great preschool teacher (at least I like to think so) and I adore the children I work with. All day long, my students give me hugs and tell me they love me. All day long my students are given every advantage I can offer.

You know, it would be easy for me to get full of myself as a teacher and to to feel like somehow my students need me more than they need their parents. It would be easy to believe that somehow I am better than their parents. But I only have these children for a brief moment of their lives. That moment is special to me and I hope special to them but their parents do all the real work. It is parents who pay for the doctor bills, stay up late at night, work hard to put food on the table, buy cute clothes and school supplies, go to the park on the weekends, negotiate arguments between siblings, struggle with how to keep their children happy – And spend lots of money to put them in my care each day while they work or do whatever it is they need to do.

Yes, I am a great preschool teacher with some very special skills for helping my students have a successful classroom experience – but I am not their parent. I know that – I remember that in a healthy way – and I hope that if you are caring for or teaching the children of others, you will always remember that too.


This article is being shared with you by Deborah Stewart of Teach Preschool - Sharing the wonders of early learning in action!

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