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7 Questions To Ask Your Child's Kindergarten Teacher

Because they have answers, and they’re happy to help.

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It’s almost impossible to avoid clichés when approaching a parenting milestone, and staring down the first day of kindergarten is a huge one. Wasn’t it just a moment ago that you were carrying your little nugget around in a baby carrier? It feels like you blinked and now, somehow, they’re old enough to start kindergarten. The head spins — and not just with emotions. Amidst all the bittersweet feelings of excitement, pride and sadness is the logistical hurdle of registering your child for school and figuring out exactly what you’re supposed to do to get yourself and your child ready for the big day. But before you snap that milestone first-day-of-big-kid-school photo, there are some questions you should ask your child's kindergarten teacher.

Kindergarteners undoubtedly have to make a huge adjustment, whether they’re transitioning from being at home with you or another caregiver or from a Pre-K or preschool program. They might be adjusting to a larger number of students per classroom, or to life in a classroom, period. While you’re budding elementary school superstar might be ready to roll, you may feel a little out of your depth, and that’s OK. It's important for parents to figure out how exactly kindergarten has changed since they went toddling off with their first big-kid lunch box many decades ago. Kindergarten is no longer a grade reserved for simply learning how to function in a classroom and collaborate with peers because, in this age of standardized testing, teachers hit the ground running to accumulate reading, writing, and math skills. In fact, kindergarten is often referred to as "the new first grade," so it can be useful to be armed with these questions to ask kindergarten teachers to help your little one thrive in this very important first year of their academic career.


Is there a nap time in kindergarten?

While this can vary somewhat school-to-school, the answer will most likely be ‘no’. Some school districts still recognize the importance of giving littler kids a quick snooze to complete their day, nap time for kindergartners is largely a thing of the past. But you never know, perhaps your child's teacher has substituted a restful, post-recess story time to help kids regroup. Curious? Just ask. Kindergarten teachers know that parents are as nervous as their 5-year-olds and they’re ready with all the answers you need.


How much homework will there be?

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After-school assignments for kindergartners is a very fraught topic, and the amount of homework assigned in kindergarten can vary from none at all to way too much, so it's very important to ask your child’s kindergarten teacher what your child — and you — are responsible for in the year to come. If you’re not comfortable with their answer, it’s good to know sooner than later so that you can decide what you want to do.


How do you handle discipline in the classroom?

Among the many things that you’ll want to talk about with a kindergarten teacher, behavior correction measures should be high on the list. Kindergarten teachers are pretty much all warm and fuzzy types who are unlikely to use punitive measures against their newbie students, but it's good to have a clear idea about how they plan to manage 30 energetic 5-year-olds in tight quarters. By knowing the rules and rewards your child can expect, you'll know the teacher's expectations for your student and whether she can meet them. Who knows, you might learn something from them.


What do you need from me?

Whether it's occasional volunteering in the classroom, regular engagement through parent-teacher meetings, or just making sure your child is fed, rested, and ready for the day, your child’s kindergarten teacher surely wants you to be their partner in educating your child. Let them know that you’re going to do your best to support them on your end, and that you’re listening. There's a ton you can do for your kid to ensure a successful kindergarten year, and all you have to do is ask.


How does dismissal work?

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The last thing you want is to collect your teary child after a confusing dismissal, so it is very important that your child's teacher knows how they're getting home so they can provide you with clear instructions.


How should we communicate with you?

Depending on how informal your child’s preschool was, communication with elementary school teachers can be an adjustment for some parents. Elementary teacher's schedules are very structured and it's unlikely you'll get a response from your child’s kindergarten teacher during the school day. But, that doesn’t mean that they don’t want to hear from you. That’s why this is such an important question to ask. Let them know you respect their time and work load by asking then to let you know what the best time to contact them is, and whether they prefer email, text, or phone calls.


What do parents do that makes your job difficult?

That's a loaded one, but you have a vested interest in not being "that parent" so it's a question worth asking your child’s kindergarten teacher. If you do ask, though, listen carefully. The answer might surprise you, because each school and each classroom is unique, so get a feel for how your child's classroom best functions so you can get to work — or get out of the way.

These seven questions to ask about kindergarten will help you feel so much more confident going into this first year of elementary school. Parents should feel empowered to communicate with teachers and comfortable asking these questions — as long as they’re willing to really listen, too. It can feel intimidating to make the transition into ‘real’ school, but, remember — kindergarten teachers do this every year. Your child will be in great hands.

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