This past week and a half I had conferences, open house and an IEP meeting so I got to talk to many parents. I generally view opportunities to share insights on the students and discuss student progress with parents as valuable.
This past week brought out some interesting comments and conversations that I thought I would share. While I am sitting across the table from a parent, she lifts up her shirt to prove that she is pregnant. I was quite uncomfortable and told her exactly what I tell the kids "we do not show our private bodies at school and your stomach is part of your private body". As the conversation progressed, she asked me if I felt her child's needs were related to the amount of television she watched. What do you say? I asked about how much TV the child watched and the parent said the child watches TV all the time when she is not eating or sleeping. As an early educator, I know how crucial those first few years of life are. I mentally stopped my mouth from gaping open and calmly responded that I think other activities may be more beneficial. The mother then asked what she could do with her child if her child was not watching television. OK.
Another parent wanted to know why their almost four year old son with significant language delays was not yet reading. I explained that he is working on letter recognition and symbol-sound correspondence at this time and would have more time to read a bit later on once some initial skills were more solidified. Then they wanted to know why there has not been any homework. Homework is sent home in the student's backpack every Monday. I explained this and they seemed surprised. I encouraged them to check the backpack every few days for important notices, communication from the school, and of course homework.
Still another parent confessed that her child has massive behavior problems at home. This student appears to get along well with other students, can play cooperatively, and follows directions without any difficulty, so I was a bit surprised. After some conversation, it was revealed that the parents don't assert themselves with this child because she is the youngest of the family. Specifically, when the parents want the child to do something like a chore or homework, the child tells the parents "no" and that is the end of the story. The child is just being a child. Children need limits and will do better when those limits are consistently enforced.
Each year I tell my principal that I want to set up 'preschool for parents' where the parents come to a couple of sessions before school starts. Each year he sort of laughs me off. Each year, I grow more and more convinced of the need. It is not that I want to tell people how to parent, but to share information and research about early childhood development and the specifics of the program. I ultimately just want the best for my students, but sometimes I feel very limited by the amount instructional time we have each day, that it is simply, not enough.