We asked a Brisbane Kindy Teacher to tell us about the kinds of questions she LOVES parents to ask about their children in her class.
There’s no doubt that your child starting Kindergarten is a new and sometimes confronting experience for both children and their parents. It’s important that you feel comfortable with your child’s new Kindergarten, and asking questions is a great way to alleviate worries. Here are some questions you might ask your child’s teacher:
How is my child doing at Kindy?
When we answer this question, there are lots of areas to consider:
- Social development – What stage of play are they at – do they play by themselves, in parallel with peers or in co-operative play? Can they enter into play appropriately? Do they understand the importance of give and take in play?
- Emotional resilience – Can they cope with change? With challenges? With disappointments? With conflict?
- Academic skills – not only learning letters and numbers, but also their fine and gross motor development.
Teachers and assistants work tirelessly to assist children to develop social competence and emotional resilience, which are just as important as being able to hold a pencil correctly, or recognise numerals 1-10.
What does my child love to do at Kindy?
Research shows time and time again that children learn best when they have an interest in something. There’s really no point in spending a week learning about koalas when the children are interested in a new movie that’s come out all about dinosaurs and palaeontology. Our role as the teacher is to embed critical learning into these interests, so we’ll ask them to make a “Caution – dinosaur excavation” sign (embedding early literacy skills), use tools to uncover bones in the sandpit (encouraging fine motor development, co-operation and patience), and get them to research the bones in a book from the library. We’ll sing a song about a Dinosaur Hunt (Going on a Bear Hunt can be adapted so many ways!), and we’ll read stories about dinosaurs. They’re learning through play.
What do you do if a child is not following the centre’s rules?
Behaviour management is a big part of making sure children feel safe to learn and grow. It’s vital that you feel comfortable with your child’s teacher’s behaviour management program and that you feel your child is safe from other children’s behaviours. It’s important to understand the philosophies of your child’s teacher in relation to unwelcome behaviours. You can always ask to see the Kindergarten’s policies on behaviour management, and if you’re still concerned, ask to speak to the Director/Principal.
Do you think my child is going to be ready for Prep?
As a teacher, it is our role to ensure that each child is supported in their learning and development. We observe and assess each child and individualise their goals. We praise when we see children trying their best, even if their ‘result’ is not perfect, because it’s the process of learning, not the product that we are interested in. Remember, shaping letters with play dough is just as valuable as sitting down and recognising letters in a toy catalogue! There is an option to have a delayed exit from Kindergarten if you don’t think your child will be ready for Prep, so don’t hesitate to bring this up with the teacher.
How can we help in the classroom?
Teachers LOVE help in the classroom! We’re always after parents to come in and spend time with us, and it doesn’t mean that you’ll be stuck stapling papers or photocopying notices for home. We encourage you to play with your child and their friends, to have an informal chat with their teacher so that the teacher can point out strengths and weaknesses (and how amazing your child is), and you can feel reassured that your child is coping well in the big wide world. If you have a special skill to share, we’d love you to share it! If you don’t, but you have a favourite story from your childhood you’d love to read to the children, bring it along. The children ADORE having their parents on roster, and the staff always appreciate the extra pair of hands.
There are so many questions to ask your child’s teacher, so don’t be afraid to ask them. We’d much rather lots of questions than a family feeling uncertain and worried about their child. Make sure the lines of communication are open, and don’t hesitate to question AND complement – everyone loves a nice word or two.
Kylie Barker is a mother of three boys, a Registered Paediatric Nurse and an Early Childhood Teacher now the Direcrtor at Alderley Kindergarten.
This article was published in Issue 12 of our print magazine, October/November 2015.