What to ask at your preschooler's parent-teacher conference

Is your preschooler ready for big school?
Is your preschooler ready for big school?  Photo: Getty

Daycare and preschool parent-teacher conferences can be a useful tool to help prepare your child to enter kindergarten. Taking time to prepare questions ahead of time can insure parents get all of their questions answered during the time allotted. Use the conference to assess how well your child is doing academically, socially and emotionally so you can help your child transition to school. Below is a list of questions that can help you maximize the time you have with your child's teacher or daycare provider.

1. How does my child interact with you? Learning to respect other adults and seeing them as authority figures is an important lesson for kids to learn before entering kindergarten.

2. How do you meet my child's needs? Have the provider give examples of meeting your child's needs when he is upset.

3. How do you administer discipline? Determine how you can work as a team to work on behavior modification so discipline is consistent between home and daycare.

4. Is my child on target for entering school? Get a realistic assessment of where your child is academically. Does he have the skills necessary to be successful in kindergarten?

5. Can my child focus and follow directions? The ability to follow directions and take turns speaking is necessary for starting school. Having self-control shows signs of maturity.

6. Does my child finish tasks? If your child is working on a project does his attention span allow him to finish what he's doing without prodding? Can he follow complex directions?

7. Does my child share? Find out if your child can take turns and share toys. Does he share reluctantly or does he try to include others into the game by offering toys?

8. How is my child doing emotionally? It's important to know if your child is generally happy at daycare or preschool especially if there are issues at home like a recent move, a divorce or a recent death in the family.

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9. How is my child doing socially? Inquire about your child's peer relationships. Social interaction is an important skill for toddlers and preschoolers to grasp before starting school.

10. Who are my child's friends? Get an idea of who your child chooses to play with. It might give ideas for play dates or nail down some behavioral problems.

11. What does my child eat? Kids will often eat their veggies in a group setting but they won't at home. Get some ideas of how they coax your child to eat healthy foods at daycare.

12. Is my child doing his best? Not all children find daycare and preschool activities stimulating, therefore, they do not fully engage, try to find out where your child is on the spectrum.

13. Where can my child improve? Be open-minded and listen to what the teacher has to say about your child's overall assessment. They are on your team and want your child to be successful.

14. Where does my child excel? Determining early gifts and talents can help you guide them in areas they do well at like, sports, art, reading, math or science.

15. What can we do at home to help him excel? Parents need to take an active role in conveying the importance of learning. Using flashcards, computer programs like ABCMouse, or reading together can make a big difference in your child's academic success.

Taking time to meet with your daycare or pre-school provider can give you an excellent snapshot of your child's emotional, social and academic progress. Addressing areas where your child excels as well as focusing on areas your child needs to improve upon before entering school will give them the best chance of successfully transitioning into kindergarten.

Jennifer Chung is a parenting expert and co-founder of Kinsights: part parenting community, part online health record.

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