They will cry.

It is a fact of life. Preschoolers cry.  There are many, many ways to deal with it, and I’ll just share some thoughts.

At the beginning of the year, just be ready to have a lap available at all times. I’ve read stories at group time holding someone on my lap.  Be available for the adjustment tears.

As the year goes on, you’ll have to help them develop some self-soothing skills.  If they come in teary, then (we have group time first) I smile and invite them to sit close to me, but on the floor.

Sometimes the tears are just sad tears – missing mom and dad, hurt feelings, being tired.  Then I ask if I can have a hug, then we snuggle for a bit – then find something to do together.   “Let’s put a puzzle together.”

If the tears are for a wound, I scoop them up and we get a band-aid/paper towel/drink of water, and comfort is lavished on the child.

These are all examples of ‘valid’ tears.  Now, there will be tears for other reasons, and you’ll need to handle those differently.  (When I first taught, I had a little girl would would cry and argue to get her way, and as a newbie teacher – I gave in.)  When the tears are from something other than sorrow or wounds, I ask, “Tell me why you’re upset.”  I then make sure they tell me in a big kid voice – not a crying voice.  Then we talk the problem out.

If you have a constant cryer, help them identify what they are doing.  “Ann, you are crying big tears like you scraped your knee.  Joe took your pencil.  This isn’t something that needs tears, you need to use your words.”

First year teachers, you will need to develop a thick skin.  Don’t become cold and cruel, but become immune to crying.  See the situation for what it is, and react accordingly. 

Paint every day!

In the category of ‘Lessons I’ve learned the hard way’, one is that you should let children have the opportunity to paint every day.

A few years ago I had every intention of getting paint out, but you know how it goes.  I’d forget to get it ready right away, time would slip away, and before you knew it, another Center Time had slipped away with no paint.

The next year I talked with one of our graduates.  “How’s kindergarten?”I asked.   She answered, “Great! Our teacher lets us paint every day!!”  Ouch!  The knife in my heart!!

So, take my advice.  Have it available every day, or at least two or three times a week.  One or two colors is plenty, and they will love it!

The First Two Weeks

Don’t worry about trying to accomplish any ‘academic’ work!  This is a completely new environment for your children, so I spend the whole first week (and much of the second) just getting them used to classroom procedures.  In our classroom, we have children who attend different days, so my first two or three days are almost exactly the same.  (More detail on that later.)

Remember, children don’t automatically know what to do.  Tell them, and know that you will have to tell them many, many times.  Be positive, be patient!