I am a preschool teacher.
I absolutely love watching children grow and reach milestones in their development. As an infertile, teaching preschool is tough. But as an educator, teaching preschool can be so fulfilling at times.
I have actually worked with all ages between three months and ten years, but I am currently working with toddlers and twos. I am a lead teacher in a two’s classroom, and a substitute teacher for infant and toddler classes when their teachers are out.
In my class, we have ten children, and one of them – we’ll call him “Max” – seemed to have some serious developmental issues. My kids stay with me for a full calendar year, and from the time Max joined our class almost a year ago until just a few months ago (June or July), I really had not seen much development.
My superiors at work were constantly asking if I thought he needed to be placed in special education, while my coworkers shook their heads at him and made comments to me like, “I don’t know how you do it!” And I have to admit that there were a lot of times where I felt exhausted and truly challenged by this child. But deep inside I knew that Max was/is a typically developing child with no need for special education – just a need for more discipline, more boundaries, and higher expectations.
The first time that I tried talking to his parents, I felt that they were uninterested in anything I had to say. They seemed annoyed that I would find any sort of fault with their child and they seemed offended by my “implications” of their bad parenting. Perhaps I misread them, but this was the impression that they gave me.
For a long time, the mother barely spoke to me and I have no idea if this was purposeful or if she was truly in a rush. But I felt that she didn’t like me at all! Meanwhile, Max’s behavior and delayed development seemed to be getting worse and worse.
I’m not sure what changed his parents’ mind, but I think it was when Max hurt another child and we warned them that our director has a three-strikes-you’re-out policy. They seemed to start disciplining more and mom even started talking to me again!
She informed me that she was going to have him tested for any developmental delays and have him put in speech therapy. Music to my ears. Of course, I told her my thoughts – which were that I encouraged the testing but honestly did not believe Max was incapable of being (developmentally) where he should be, but that he was just not doing more than the bare minimum because it was not required of him.
A specialist came to visit and observe Max during class, and I had a nice, long chat with her. It felt so good to know that she agreed with me and that she would do what she could to help Max’s parents and I get on the same page.
Max is now only a couple of days away from leaving my class and graduating to the next age group, and thankfully he is doing much better! I adore this little boy and am so proud of all the progress he has made in these short months. He is talking more, is doing more for himself, is less aggressive, is able to follow directions and pay attention, is making choices (good ones!), and is just an absolutely adorable bundle of affection.
I’m so proud of him.
Preschool teachers often feel undervalued and overworked – even more so than teachers who teach within a school system. We are often seen as little more than glorified babysitters, and we are not often taken seriously by parents or professionals in other fields.
But seeing improvements in kids like Max and watching these kids gain confidence and independence makes it so worth it.
And I will be so happy if, one day, I can experience this type of pride in a child from a mother’s point of view.