Whether it's the beginning of a new school year or an unexpected transition mid-year, preschool-age children sometimes have trouble warming up to a new teacher. Young children tend to take an egocentric view of the world and often assume that they are at fault when a new teacher takes over. Reassure your child that the teacher is changing for practical reasons and will miss her old students. Then focus on getting to know the new teacher through a few simple activities.
Present the old teacher with a gift or send a card expressing your appreciation. Let your child help you plan and carry out these activities. Acknowledging feelings of affection for a previous preschool teacher gives your child a sense of closure and helps her prepare for a new teacher. End-of-year "Teacher Appreciation" activities are an ideal time to present a preschool teacher with a gift, but any time is appropriate.
Talk with your child about the new preschool teacher. Relay any information you have, such as the teacher's name, hobbies or interests. Preschool children usually want to know if a teacher has children of her own, or if she has a pet. Find out these details, if possible.
Attend a meet and greet activity with your child, if offered. Many preschool teachers plan a special activity to introduce themselves, such as a play date at the park or a preschool open house. This is a non-threatening chance for your child to meet the teacher while you're still at her side.
Talk about similarities and differences in the classrooms setting. Maybe the teacher uses a slightly different schedule, but the classroom is the same. Or, maybe your child is transitioning to a new classroom, but basic elements of the classrooms, such as bathrooms, drinking fountains and coat cubbies, are similar. Visit a new classroom before the first day of school.
Arrive at school a few minutes early on the first day with the new teacher. Be friendly and enthusiastic, which provides a model your child can follow. Help your child find an activity and get settled. Stay for a few minutes and then offer a cheerful, matter-of-fact goodbye.
Give your child a snack, art project or card for the new teacher on the first day. This friendly expression gives your child an important role to play and helps ease those first awkward moments.
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- It's important to validate your child's fears and concerns without belaboring the point. If your child expresses sadness or anxiety, listen and empathize. Then reassure your child with a comment, such as, "I know it's hard to say goodbye to Miss Stacey, but I've met your new teacher. She seems really fun, too. I'm excited to get to know her."
- Never, ever sneak out of a classroom without saying goodbye to your child. You might avoid a temper tantrum in the moment, but sneaking out destroys trust and prolongs your child's anxiety in the long run. Say goodbye and expect that your child might have a few teary moments initially. You can wait in the hall to make sure he calms down or ask the teacher to call you later.
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