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Our very first parent-teacher consultation for our pre-schooler (almost three years old) is coming up. Because of that I'd like to bring some more attention to this question: How to maximise the usefulness of parent teacher consultations? which had until now only one answer (albeit an excellent one from HedgeMage), but I would like to make it also more specific about preschool.

In our experience communication between teachers and parents in (this) preschool is quite different from daycare. It's not impossible to have contact with the teacher during the schoolyear but it takes more effort then at our daycare where we regularly had an informal conversation about our child with the caregivers. Altough we have the impression she is doing ok, this lack of communication makes us a bit unsure about what our child does at school, how she behaves and if she feels well. In a way we expect to get more insight in how she is doing. Altough we have some small comments on how things are going I have no reason at all to distrust the school or the teacher. Still I have some irrational "first child paranoia" and I would like to gain some trust in the school.

I know I can not expect to change all this with this one consultation but still I want to take as much out of it as possible.

Which information should the teacher give us?

What questions should we ask to make sure our child is feeling well at school and is getting the education (as far as education goes at preschool) she needs?

Which questions illuminated things for you, about the time your child spends at school, or exposed aspects of your child you did not know of?

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Having worked in a preschool, I think it's totally appropriate for you to show up unannounced (tho don't let your kid see you as it makes less helpful) and observe your kid and the teachers. Our rooms had big windows into all the rooms for this purpose (they were above the heads of the kids tho so they weren't a distraction to them) –  Christine Gordon Nov 30 '12 at 4:57
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1 Answer

up vote 4 down vote accepted

At the age of 3, I would have thought the things of most interest would be:

  • The child's social skills. At 3yo, many children still do side-by-side rather than interactive playing
  • The child's verbal skills. Are they clearly understandable?
  • the child's emotional maturity. How do they handle the day once they've been dropped off. How do they handle conflict with other kids.

I currently have a three year old in childcare. The questions I regularly ask the kinder teacher are:

  • Who does he play with? This gives me an idea of how he interacts with the other kids plus lets me know whether the teacher is paying attention.
  • How does he get on with the other kids? If there are any issues with fighting, this is when it would come up.
  • How well can you understand him? My boy is bi-lingual so will change his language to suit the person he's talking to. By asking this question I get a feeling for how his vocabulary is going and it also explains to the teacher than he is not speaking gibberish, it's just another language.

In terms of intellectual development, you should see evidence of that at home. How the child interacts with her toys, how much she gets into books and stories. Does she sing songs she hears from pre-school (eg: my lad sings a mangled version of ABC, something we never taught him).

IMHO: the kid is 3 - as long as she is happy then things are going well.

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"The kid is 3 - as long as she is happy then things are going well." - you are absolutely right, and I think I overreacted a bit, nevertheless: good answer! –  Tim H Jun 10 '11 at 13:45
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