Guest Post: Building Good Teacher/Day Care Provider Relationships

Building good relationships with your daycare provider/teacher
By Nicole Dash, Tiny Steps Mommy
The start of school is a time of new beginning for many families. This year, my three older children start eighth grade, first grade, and kindergarten (insert sad face here). In my daycare, I am welcoming a few new children to replace my rising kindergarteners.
For many parents with children beginning daycare, preschool, or kindergarten for the first-time, the question is always the same. How do we stay connected with our children? When they are infants, we depend on and expect their providers to relay pertinent information about what how many ounces they drink, what they eat, whether they had a BM or not, etc. As they get a little older, our child care providers and teachers may share information about what they are learning, what story they read, and what fun activities occupy their day. But, this is not all we want to know. Are they having fun? Do they have a best friend and play well with others? Are they discovering something new each day? Did someone hurt their feelings? Do they enjoy learning?
So, how do we find out the answers to all these questions? The truth is as our children grow, we have to accept that sometimes we will not know everything that happens each day. Not even a webcam can tell the whole story. As children spend more time away from us, they develop a world beyond our scope. It hurts to think about, but it is a normal part of growing up. 
There are ways, however, to gain glimpses into this world. And this is through the eyes of their teachers and child care providers. As a child care provider, I feel privileged to witness the dynamics between the children who spend so much time together. With each month, their relationships become more intricate. Some days, I feel like I am observing a social experiment. 
If you build a positive and open relationship with your child’s provider/teacher then perhaps you will hear about stories that go beyond the daily report. Here are some tips for building a relationship with your child’s daycare provider/teacher. These tips may not make a difference beyond kindergarten, but are certainly worth a try.
  1. Introduce yourself. This may seem simple, but as your child heads into a larger setting, you want your child’s teacher to know you beyond “mom of one of the students.” You want your child’s teacher to know your name, face, and perhaps something about you.
  2. Ask their preferred form of communication. Don’t bombard your teacher/provider at the end of each day. Instead ask their preferred form of communication. Let them know you want to hear stories and updates. Not just on their “academic” progress, but about their social interactions. Sometimes you just have to ask.
  3. Don’t over communicate. Just because your teacher/provider gives you his/her e-mail or cell phone number does not mean you should call or e-mail every day, on weekends, or just because. Save your phone calls and e-mails for real questions or occasional check-ins. And be patient with a response. Your teacher/provider has a personal life and may not be able to (want to) respond at midnight or on Saturdays.
  4. Volunteer your time. Find out how your provider/teacher feels about volunteers. Even if you work full-time, try to make yourself available at least once or twice a year. I have always worked, so my ability to volunteer regularly is limited. I do, however, make a point to attend special events, like Thanksgiving lunch, Mother’s Day teas, or other special events. Your teacher and children will appreciate the effort.
  5. Offer to help. Teachers and providers often spend their own money on supplies. Ask if there is anything you can provide or bring to the classroom. Even better is to simply donate supplies like tissues, glue sticks, and anti-bacterial wipes throughout the year without waiting to be asked.
  6. Get to know them. Be interested in your teacher/provider as a person. Ask them about their weekend. Get to know if they have a family. Did they grow up locally? Is this their first year teaching? Did they have a profession before teaching? Don’t interrogate, but let this getting to know you process happen organically. The more you and your provider/teacher get to know each other, the more comfortable he/she will be sharing about your child.
  7. Be appreciative. You don’t have to buy expensive gifts or make grand gestures to show your appreciation. My favorite things have been handwritten and personal cards telling me how I have made a difference. Showing your appreciation is important, because it helps teachers/providers get through the hard days.
  8. Be proactive.  If you sense a problem at school, or if your child is suddenly acting out at home, please do not wait to communicate these issues. Your teacher/provider is there to help you and your child. They may not be aware of an issue, but probably have the insight needed to fill in the blanks.
Taking these steps may not guarantee the extra information you desire, but, it can go a long way to making you feel connected. And the next time your provider/teacher witnesses a funny scenario or example of some positive accomplishment, he/she may think to pull you aside or e-mail you to tell you the story simply because of the mutual relationship.
Do you have suggestions for building a positive relationship with your child’s teacher? Do you have a story about a good or bad relationship with your child’s provider? I want to hear from you. Connect with me on the Tiny Steps Mommy Facebook page (www.Facebook.com/TinyStepsMommy) and visit www.TinyStepsMommy.com, a blog about family life and caring for children – yours and mine, to read more.
_______________________________________________________
About Nicole Dash, The Tiny Steps Mommy
Nicole Dash, creator of the blog Tiny Steps Mommy (www.TinyStepsMommy.com), is a mother of four, childcare business owner and writer living in Annandale, Va. Five days a week she welcomes infants, toddlers, preschoolers and all their parents to Tiny Steps Day Care, her home-based daycare and preschool.
Blog- www.TinyStepsMommy.com
Facebook – www.Facebook.com/TinyStepsMommy
Twitter – www.Twitter.com/NicDash
Pinterest – www.Pinterest.com/NicoleDash