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WHAT THEY Sha­bangu, who splits her pro­fes­sional time be­tween Vaal Univer­sity of Tech­nol­ogy in Van­der­bi­jl­park and pri­vate prac­tice. “If your child sees you work­ing to­gether with the teacher, de­liv­er­ing one con­sis­tent mes­sage, he’ll en­joy a sense of sta­bili

Your Baby & Toddler - - The Dossier Back To School - BY TRACEY HAWTHORNE

There are ul­ti­mately two be­hav­iours that en­sure a healthy rap­port be­tween preschool teacher, par­ent and tod­dler. The first is a par­ent who in­stils self re­spect in their child. “Once you’ve done that, much of the rest falls into place.” The sec­ond is a par­ent who works with, rather than against, the teacher: “Af­ter all, we do have one very im­por­tant thing in com­mon – your child.” This is ac­cord­ing to three sea­soned preschool teach­ers with al­most 60 years of ex­pe­ri­ence be­tween them, in both gov­ern­ment and pri­vate schools in Cape Town, Johannesbu­rg and Durban. They’ve cho­sen to stay anony­mous here, but be­cause there are lots of lit­tle things that par­ents do un­wit­tingly that cre­ate un­nec­es­sary stress for both their chil­dren and the teach­ers – and, by ex­ten­sion, for them­selves too, they’ve de­cided to spill the beans. They’re habits that are easy to break if you just know what they are. School time is your child’s time, say the teach­ers. “Chat­ting up a storm with your friends when at school is of­ten when the wheels come off, as your child is try­ing to show you some­thing im­por­tant to them, or try­ing to tell you some­thing, and all they get is, ‘Hang on, dar­ling, Mummy’s talk­ing,’” says Teacher B.

“Not pay­ing at­ten­tion to your child while he’s try­ing to con­vey im­por­tant in­for­ma­tion to you will make him feel as if he’s not im­por­tant to you,” says Zandile. “This is their time with you, not to be shared with work or your daily ar­range­ments,” says Teacher A.

A SICK CHILD MEANS NO SCHOOL

“If your child has had a bad night, rather keep him at home,” says Teacher B. “Oth­er­wise, we get a sit­u­a­tion where the mother says, ‘Johnny has been sick all night and run­ning a fever, but he seems fine now.’ Then she rushes off and five min­utes later Johnny starts vom­it­ing all over the car­pet.” Be smart about it, though, be­cause there could be some­thing at play if he’s fak­ing it. “If your child says he’s not well but there’s ab­so­lutely no phys­i­cal ev­i­dence of ill­ness, you need to do some in­ves­ti­gat­ing. There might be some­thing go­ing on at school that he wants to avoid by stay­ing at home,” says Zandile.

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