Being a day-care teacher was one of the most rewarding jobs I've ever had and also one of the toughest. No two days were ever the same and I had to handle a lot of different, and sometimes difficult, situations.
It might surprise parents to learn that they're key to helping us be better teachers. Here are eight things we wish you knew.
We aren't babysitters.
As teachers, we provide education, structure, routine, consistency, comfort and love. We want to have a fun time with your children but we also have a responsibility to educate them.
Our job requires many roles.
We aren't just your child’s teacher. During the day, we shift between various roles in our classrooms. We are the mediators when there is an issue between children. We are the waitresses in setting up and serving lunch. We are the janitors in keeping our classrooms clean, and the nurses in making accidental scrapes and cuts feel better. We are also the parental figure when your child is sick or just misses you.
We don’t put your child in time out to be mean.
This is how we discipline, not to be mean to your child. If they've done something inappropriate, it's our job to remove them from the situation and correct them. Rest assured, we always talk to them later to clarify that they understand why they were put in time out.
We want to talk to you.
We don’t want to just wish you a good night at the end of the day, we want to talk to you. If your child has had a great day, we want to tell you about it. If they have had a not so great day, we want to tell you about that too. Being able to talk to you about an issue that happened the same day is much more effective than when you find out about it a day or two later.
We want to work with you to solve your child’s issues.
If there's an issue your child is having at day care, we want to talk to you about it and work together to solve it. The same thing is true when you're having an issue at home. We are here for you and your children, and we want to help the best way we can. Like you, we want to see your children thrive.
We need your involvement.
If we're having a special theme one week and you are able to contribute somehow, please do. (For example, by talking to the class about your job for career week or bringing in the family dog for pet week.) If we are going on a field trip and ask for chaperones and you can make it, it makes a world of difference for us. Sometimes it’s just easier to break kids into smaller groups. It’s also a great way to spend some bonding time with your child and their friends outside of your regular environment. Holiday class party? We welcome your help there too. Extra help is always appreciated.
We are tired at the end of the day too.
As much as we love our job, it can be mentally and emotionally taxing at times. If you walk in at the end of the day and we look tired, it has probably been a very busy day for us.
We love your children.
It is a joy for us to watch your child go from the Infant room all the way up to the school-age room and share their journey with you. We get sad when our kids move away or move on to kindergarten. We worry when they are sick. We truly think of them as if they are our own.
Although it looks like we have it all together, every day is different. Like you, we have good days and bad days. Regardless, our commitment is to your children and their success. We want to work with you to make sure everyone wins in this partnership.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published in 2017, and updated in January 2020.