Questions for Your Daycare or Preschool Conferences

Communication with your childcare providers is very important for your child's development. Parents should prepare for your child's parent-teacher conference at daycare and preschool. But, as the first time, or even second or third time parents, it can be difficult to zero in on what exactly you want to discuss with teachers and how should you ask those questions. Here are 10 important questions to ask so you can gain a better understanding about your child when he or she is in a classroom setting.


How Does Your Child Interact With Teacher and Staff?

Ask how the daycare providers or preschool teachers interact with your child and how your child responds to them. To gain more information, ask the provider to describe how your child gets his or her needs met from an adult or what he or she does when they are feeling a certain way. The answer the provider gives should give you some initial insight into the type of relationship your child has with other grown-ups.


How Does Your Child Interact With Other Children?

This question is somewhat vague, so you may want to build on it based on the initial answer received. What you really want to know is if and how your child socializes with other kids. If your child is shy, does your child do more self-play than group-play? Does your child have specific children he gravitates towards? Follow up with questions about whether this is normal for your child's age or if there are any special concerns.


Does Your Child Follow Instructions?

Does your child listen to the teachers and follow instructions? Does he or she put his toys away when asked? Does he or she follow in a line and listen to other rules as requested? If your child's caregiver indicates that this behavior is a concern, parents can help their child learn that following rules is a requirement and explain why following rules is important for safety and to get the most out of school.


How Is Your Child Developing Socially and Emotionally?

Early childhood education is more about social and emotional development than academic. Ask if your child is developing in an age-appropriate way. Early childhood educators and providers know the key things to look out for and will know when development is delayed. Does your child share and take turns? Are they beginning to show empathy and care for other kids? The answer to these questions helps parents to learn their child's basic social skills with same-age friends.


How Do You Administer Discipline?

Have you discussed behavior modification with your child's provider and do you share the same approach? Consistency of disciplinary tactics helps your child learn consequences and avoids a child believing he can act differently in different situations and with different adults.


Does Your Child Finish Tasks?

Does your child finish what he starts? If she asks to make a project, does she complete it or become bored easily? What is his attention span? Can your child follow complex instructions (two or more steps...first this, then that)? Sometimes, children need additional explanation or prefer a certain learning style. These discussions can help encourage techniques to create success and follow-through.


What Are Your Child's Strengths?

Find out what your provider finds most special with your child. It is also nice to hear special things about your child from another's perspective. Don't consider this fishing for compliments, but only for better understanding the qualities that make your child so special. Also, ask about areas of concern and things you can work on at home. Constructive criticism or tips on how to make things better from child-development professionals will help your child grow and develop.


What Skills and Tasks Should Your Child Master and How Can You Help at Home?

While every child is different, there are essential skills and developmental milestones that are typically common within an age group. Ask your child's provider how your child is measuring against these specifications, but always remember that they are simply guidelines or typical standards, and are not necessarily reflective of concern.


Who Are Your Child's Friends?

Ask about your child's friend preferences. The information may prove valuable for play dates or parties but also helps to give parents a better idea of a child's sociability.


What Does Your Child Eat?

The answers to this question often surprise parents. Interestingly enough, children will devour food in a group setting that they may otherwise refuse to even taste at home. Get tips from your child's caregiver; perhaps your child will readily eat broccoli if it is served with ranch dressing. Or, she'll eat peanut butter and strawberry jelly sandwich but not one made with grape jelly.

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