Advice from Preschool Teachers

9 Teacher Techniques to Try at Home

Your child's teacher runs a classroom full of kids every day. Feel free to use her expert ideas and strategies at home.

  • Chore is fun: Preschool teachers are great at finding age-appropriate tasks for kids. If your 3-year-old daughter is in charge of napkins at school, make her home job placing a napkin at each plate at dinner and then throwing them away after you eat.
  • Bin there, done that: In the classroom, most things that the children need are within their reach and very organized. Toys are at a child's level, separated into different categories, and labeled with both a picture and a name. If you set up your child's bedroom or playroom the same way, it'll keep everything neat and also give her the freedom to choose what she wants to play with without asking Mom or Dad for help.
  • Art smarts: Limiting choices helps your child make decisions. If you let him choose from three paint colors instead of putting out all 10, you'll have less mess and your kid won't be overwhelmed by too many options.
  • Visual cues: Use a large calendar or schedule with fun pictures to reinforce what day it is and what the family has planned.
  • House rules: Many teachers talk about classroom commandments with the children and then post them in the classroom. Create a list for your house, hang it in a prominent spot, and refer to it when issues arise.
  • Quiet, please:Have a signal to get kids to quiet down and pay attention. Find out how it's done in your child's classroom, or try one of the following techniques.
  • The Classic: Teach your child that when you put your finger to your lips he should do the same. Sssh together.
  • The Discreet: Use your two fingers to point to your eyes to let your child know you want her to look at you.
  • The Fun: SOS! SOS! Before you had kids it might have meant "emergency," but now it means "Sound of Silence!"

Try to minimize any other changes going on in your child's life during the weeks leading up to school. If she's moving from a crib to a bed, giving up naps, or changing caregivers around the same time as she starts preschool, the experience could be more overwhelming than it has to be.

The Experts

  • Lolita Carrico, mom of Jaden, 5, and Jack, 3, and founder of ModernMom.com.
  • Ellen Birnbaum, associate director, and Nancy Schulman, director of the 92nd Street Y Nursery School, in New York City.
  • Walter Goldberg, 6-year-old Brooklyn schoolkid.
  • Marie E. Jones, lead preschool teacher at the American River College Child Development Center, in Sacramento, California.
  • Karen Reivich, PhD, psychologist, coauthor of The Resilience Factor, and mom of four.

Copyright © 2008 Meredith Corporation. Originally published in the November 2004 issue of Parents magazine, and the September 2007 issue of Parents magazine.

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