Kindergarten is a critical first step toward lifelong learning. Children who get the skills they need in kindergarten are more likely to excel in elementary school and to enjoy learning. If your child's kindergarten teacher isn't providing her with a nurturing educational environment, you might need to request a change in teachers or switch schools, but first you'll have to know how to judge your child's teacher.
A good kindergarten teacher regularly communicates with parents about their child's progress. If you call or e-mail your child's teacher, you should get a prompt response. You should also have access to information about learning goals and classroom activities. A teacher who's hesitant to give this information to you or who doesn't provide clear information might not have clear goals for your child. This can translate into a disorganized classroom in which your child does not get the attention he needs and does not meet kindergarten educational milestones.
Your child's relationship with her kindergarten teacher is a key predictor of her kindergarten success. If your child loves going to school and is constantly brimming over with stories about her teacher, you probably have an excellent educator. If, however, your child seems anxious around her teacher, there may be a problem. Observe your child interacting with her teacher and look for signs of mutual warmth. If the teacher is cold or hostile to your child, it might be time to switch classrooms.
Results matter, particularly when kindergarten plays such an important role in getting your child ready for school. If your child comes home from school talking about new subjects and is meeting developmental milestones, he probably has a good teacher. Some children are behind other children, though, even with excellent kindergarten teachers. Focus on whether your child is steadily learning and improving rather than on whether he's outshining his classmates. If your child regresses or none of the children in class seem to be learning, this could be a red flag.
Your child's teacher should provide your child with regular, daily one-on-one attention and should know your child individually. Don't just ask the teacher about classroom goals; ask her about how your child is doing. Good kindergarten teachers are trained to watch for learning difficulties, to ensure children hit developmental milestones and to individualize lesson plans to the needs of each student. If your child falls behind or is gifted, a good kindergarten teacher will be equipped to work with her.
- ScienceDaily: Early Academic Skills, Not Behavior, Best Predict School Success
- Government of Quebec: Predicting Academic Achievement in Fourth Grade from Kindergarten Cognitive, Behavioural and Motor Skills
- National Association for the Education of Young Children: Top 10 Signs of a Good Kindergarten Classroom
- Scholastic: Characteristics of Great Kindergarten Classrooms
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