Starting Preschool When Your Parents Are Teachers

May 1, 2019

I’m not really sure what to call M’s childcare setting. It’s not really ‘nursery’ as she seems too old for that, but it’s not truly ‘preschool’ as she doesn’t start her preschool year until September. But I think I feel more comfortable saying preschool (for no particular reason!) so I’ll stick with that and hope that you know what I mean!

M’s first day was last Friday and despite being a primary school teacher until last year, I wasn’t really sure what to expect as a parent. It was very, very strange being on the other side of the classroom door. In some ways it was even stranger as Matthew, a Deputy Headteacher, came with us so that we could both be part of this milestone in M’s development.

M on her way to her first session at preschool.

I don’t know if other teachers are the same or we’re just a bit weird, but as we stood there, watching M get stuck into the painting within thirty seconds of taking off her coat, we both knew that the other was making a quick Ofsted judgement about the provision.

In fact, as we were walking home, Matthew started talking about the adult to child ratios that he’d observed on the school field. We didn’t actually set foot on the school field at any point. Oh dear, I think the staff are going to love us!

They don’t need to worry, though, as we are both very happy with the provision that M’s preschool offers and, most importantly, we’re confident that she is safe there.

It’s funny because when I was a teacher, I never really gave a second thought to what a big deal it was for the parents to be giving their children over to my care. Those children were simply my class and that was that. But now I get it. I also know, though, that those staff members will do everything in their power to ensure that my child is happy, confident and safe while she’s at preschool, because that’s how I felt about my class. That’s what teachers do.

It’s interesting that being a teacher never really stops, even when you’re no longer actually teaching. Chatting to one of the other mums yesterday, she asked if M would be starting in Reception next year. No, I told her, next year is M’s preschool year. She’ll start in Reception in September 2020. Yes; next year, the mum clarified. Of course my teacher brain struggled with this and when I recounted the conversation to Matthew later, I had to spell it out for him that ‘normal’ people don’t think in academic years…

As for M, she is loving her time at preschool. She’s had three sessions now, and has settled straight in. She already knows where she needs to put her water bottle when we arrive, and bounces out to greet me at the end of each session, her words spilling over her lips as she rushes to tell me everything that she has done during the past three hours in a single sentence. Of course she always starts by describing in great detail every morsel that she consumed at snack time. The girl knows her priorities!

M walking home from her first day at preschool.

We already have two pieces of wonderful artwork created by M’s hand. I’m not entirely sure what to do with them, but one has been given pride of place on the fridge door and I’m considering framing the other one (it’s the painting that she completed within the first three minutes of that first visit; a marvellous purple abstract piece). I suspect later works may have to be filed. Under ‘B’…*

I think the thing that I find most odd is that there are now parts of my child’s day that I have no real knowledge of. Until now, I have been present for almost every minute of every day of her life. Now, I have only the account that she chooses to share with me. And if you’ve ever held a conversation with an almost three year old, then you’ll know that it’s sometimes difficult to discern the fact from the fiction!

Crucially, though, she appears to be extremely happy to attend and asks when she’ll next be going to preschool almost immediately after she’s left the previous session.

If M’s happy, then I’m happy.

My experience of my first child starting preschool; from a teacher parent's perspective.

*For bin, in case you were unsure. This will clearly happen under the cover of darkness and without M’s knowledge!

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