An open letter from a preschool teacher to parents

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Have you ever wondered what motivates and upset your child's preschool teacher? Here's what this veteran preschool teacher wants you to know.

Dear Mr and Mrs X,

2016 will mark my ninth year working in the preschool industry. Truth be told, I have mixed feelings about my journey with our kids (yes, I think of your kids as mine too when we are in my class) over the next 12 months as we attempt to conquer yet another series of milestone together.

As much as the new school year is always exciting as it brings new challenges and a different set of kids with their own special personalities and quirks, 2016 also marks another year of a longer-than-expected tenure in this industry. Yes, I had never thought I would be teaching for this long. Let me tell you why.

Teaching preschoolers is a thankless job, especially when teaching the younger age group. With the toddlers, it is not so much of teaching the academics but rather, honing their self-help skills and encouraging social interaction among their peers. Any day that goes by without incurring an accident is a big victory on its own. Nobody spilt their drink? Yay! No one had a pee-pee accident? Wow, this is an awesome day! Nobody bumped themselves? Hurray! No biting incidents today? Great, we are doing so well!

It’s the small, almost unnoticeable innumerable things that we teach your kids, the stuff we adults take for granted. For us, it is the small wins that we celebrate.

Do you know what could make our day though? Reciprocate our smiles or give us a morning greeting! Generally, we are simple creatures, and you really have no idea how much such little gestures mean to us.

So many times, I have heard my colleagues say that they feel like they are greeting a robot whose body functions seem to be programed on repeat mode daily – remove child’s shoes, place them in the shoe cubby, hand over the bag to the teacher, kiss the child goodbye, turn around and leave. I have also witnessed this scene countless times when it is my turn to be on morning duty.

Make 2016 a better year for us with these simple niceties and we will be that much motivated by your appreciation to try harder for your child.

Although, I must qualify by saying that no matter how motivated I am, or how determined I am to do a great job, I cannot say with complete confidence that your child will not sustain any injuries throughout the year.

When an accident does happen, let me assure you we are more anxious than you are, which is why you would hear from us once an accident occurs. We are sincerely apologetic and we do our best to ensure the safety of all children, but sometimes, things just happen.

For example, a child may have just mustered the courage to jump from one hula-hoop to the next, but due to their rudimentary motor skills, they stumble and fall. The best way to prevent any sort of accident is to restrict their movements, but that would defeat the purpose of them going to preschool, wouldn’t it? And therein lies the contradiction, to encourage their growth and development, we have to expose them to risks, we have to let them explore, and falling is sometimes a part of this experience.

As educators, we celebrate the joy of the child experiencing a jump for the first time, but when we call to inform you of the accident, all you perceive is “how can you let this happen? What are the teachers doing?”.

On the one hand, we really want you to know that accidents happen, and any temporary injury is really a good part of the experience. On the other hand, it also leaves little to imagine what really goes into our heads when we see your child come to school with bruises one day, only to find out from you that your child actually fell. At home. Under your supervision. And you only have one (okay, maybe two or three?) child under your care. Your casual dismissal to an injury sustained from home is a stark contrast to your reaction to an accident that occurred in school. Honestly, this is something that I find difficult to comprehend.

This new year, how about we try to look at injuries in a positive light? How about you have a teeny bit more trust in us that we are working with you to bring up your child well? All I ask is not to automatically assume the worst, with a suspicious sideway glance, but to hear us out and trust that we did our best to prevent it. Believe me, that bit of trust really goes a long way in making our jobs that much more fulfilling.

But being a preschool teacher is also wonderfully joyful. Let this teacher tell you why she is still in this industry after 9 years.

Education Parenting