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Language & Learning

7 Things Preschool Teachers Want You to Know

What you need to know about preschool-straight from the source

Preschool is a big deal-for you and your child. Here are the top ways preschool teachers say you can help.

Short and sweet = best Lingering at drop-off, whether you're in the classroom or peeking through the window, may increase your kid's anxiety. "When you hang around, you're communicating to your child that you don't think he can handle preschool," explains Claire Lerner, LCSW, senior parenting advisor at Zero to Three, a national nonprofit focused on early childhood development. Give a quick warm hug and be on your way.

It's normal to cry We don't mean you, though it's fine to be a little misty in the car or on the sidewalk. Your preschooler, however, may weep-which it's absolutely normal, especially for kids who haven't experienced a lot of separation from parents. It's hard, but know they almost always go away as kids get used to the classroom, notes Lerner.

Drop-off isn't conference time Want to know whether your kid has friends or how's she's doing with her letters? Don't bring it up in the morning-make a separate appointment instead. These kind of chats are a three-fold problem: they distract the teacher from getting kids settled, the teacher likely isn't able to fully focus and respond, and they may leave kids feeling anxious, especially if they overhear the wrong thing.

Arrive on time You know how being late can set the wrong tone for your day. The same holds for your kid. "Routine is important in a young child's development-and it starts with arrival in the morning," points out Sandy Chen, a preschool teacher in Canoga Park, CA and a recipient of the Los Angeles Universal Preschool Teacher of Year award. "Bringing your child to school on time means he can better anticipate what's happening next and it makes the transition in the morning that much easier," she explains.

Choose comfortable clothes Have your child wear comfortable outfits so she can move freely and participate fully-without worrying about getting messy. It's also important for safety reasons, notes Chen. "When a child wears closed-toe shoes with socks (rather than sandals or flip-flops), her feet are protected during outdoor fun, such as when riding a trike or running in the yard," she notes. And if your tot isn't a potty pro yet, pants that pull down quickly (read no snaps, buckles or zippers) are a no-brainer.

Sugar doesn't help Healthy eating starts early and preschool teachers want to reinforce good habits so skip the cookies and other sugary treats. And as you pack her healthy lunch box, also try to include foods that your child can handle and eat independently, urges Lerner. Peel oranges and slice apples ahead of time.

Share your news Teachers don't mean to pry, but when something big happens in your family, your kiddo's behavior during the day may change. A death, divorce, adoption, the birth of a sibling or a move can deeply affect kids; informing the school allows your kid's teacher to help your child with the transition. "It's important for teachers to understand the context of children's lives," says Lerner. "This way they can tune in to the root cause of behavioral changes, provide assurance and support-and also partner with families to help them cope during challenging times."