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"Love is a choice you make from moment to moment."  Barbara De Angelis




From Inside the Classroom


By Pat Stecklein, Early Childhood Educator



What is the most important thing your child should gain from preschool?  What should the teachers' primary goal be?  These are questions both parents and teachers wrestle with annually.  The answers to both questions are the same and seem very simple.


 Every child should love going to school.  This gets them off to a positive start for their formal education.  Now, as a student approaches kindergarten, additional goals need to be focused on as well depending on the expectations of the school district's kindergarten program.


How can a student loving school be accomplished?  Both the teachers and the parents need to work together to reach this goal.  It takes communication, cooperation, and a positive attitude in school and at home by all the adults involved.


Beginning this process is easy!  A warm welcome and personal greeting from the teacher for each student the moment they arrive at the classroom door is the first step.  This is the first ingredient for the "loving school recipe".  The children quickly expect this greeting and will stand patiently waiting (most of the time).  Every once in a while a student will slip by the teacher at the door but watch the teacher expectantly from a spot in the room.  Usually, they grin from ear to ear when they realize the teacher is headed their way to acknowledge and greet them!


Years ago, a colleague asked, "How much longer are we going to do this?"  It was her first year in our classroom and about the sixth week of school.  In puzzlement I asked, "Keep doing what?"  She replied, "Take time every day to welcome each child when they arrive and be so cheery."  I replied, "All year." It was a pivotal moment in our school year and helped define the course expected.  How we conduct ourselves is a conscious choice and has huge ramifications in a classroom.

Having engaging toys, books, puzzles, circle times, and activities is another essential part of the "loving school recipe".  How often are the toys, books, etc. changed in the classroom?  This would be an excellent question for parents to ask when touring prospective preschools for their children.  Having a stimulating classroom environment is essential to promote a student's interest in learning (and they don't even realize it!)  Students can learn so much through play. A well- planned classroom environment is the second ingredient necessary for love of school.


A daily routine is another important aspect of the formula.  Having a set schedule is reassuring for children as they know what to expect next.  This helps ease the children's transitions from activity to activity.  Transitions are a wonderful opportunity for the teacher to teach songs and finger plays.


Having clear-cut expectations of behavior is also key to the children liking school.  Learning to be responsible for their own behavior, knowing there are consequences for bad choices, and knowing that the rules are consistent daily help a child feel secure in the classroom.  It also enables the children to have "safe" fun.  They are entitled to this!


Another ingredient in the " loving school formula" is the positive attitude of the teacher in the everyday interaction between teacher and child.  How do you help a child have a good self-image?  Commenting on their efforts, noticing their help when cleaning up and verbally expressing appreciation, or praising them when they help a classmate are just some of the ways to do this.  Being affectionate, respectful, funny (even silly to get a laugh), and fun are all key to helping a child enjoy school. The positive attitude of the parent towards the teacher and the school is also of paramount importance.



Developing a healthy teacher-child-parent relationship is another important facet of the child's feeling towards school. How can this be three way relationship be achieved?  The teacher showing an interest in the child by listening and interacting on a daily basis is important.  Helping a child when they need assistance, protecting them from a playground bully, and comforting them when they are feeling ill or are hurt are ways a teacher can strengthen the teacher-student bond.


Each child's trust must be built day by day. Treating all the children with respect regardless of sex, religion, or ethnic background sets the tone in the classroom.  This displays to the students that every child is important and helps build classroom unity.



As for the development of the parent-teacher relationship, communication is absolutely necessary.  Monthly newsletters, e-mails, phone calls, and short conferences at the door are all ways to keep a two-way dialogue going. Parents can help by having the student arrive on time and the teacher in turn should dismiss on time.  This shows respect for each other's time. Does the teacher reply back to parent's questions and/or concerns in a timely fashion?  Does the parent help the child bring in the "homework" such as an apple, alphabet bag, classroom mascot, etc.?  Is the parent interested in the classroom activities? All these are little things to help ensure a solid parent-teacher partnership.


To summarize, there are many aspects to the "love school recipe".  A teacher's warm welcome, a well-planned classroom environment, a daily routine, a set of clear-cut behavior expectations, a teacher's positive attitude, and a triangular relationship between student, teacher, and parent are all important ingredients.  Embrace all these in the classroom and you will have a classroom of children that are enthusiastic, excited, and happy to be at school guaranteed!




Greet and make welcome every child, every day

Roomful of toys, books, and puzzles

Daily routine

Limits on behavior

Kind words and encouragement

Respect triangle between student/parent/teacher

Lots of love!!!


Copyright Pat Stecklein, 2008




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