Friday, October 23, 2009

A Preschool Teacher's Role

In preschool, a teacher’s primary role is to teach. Of course she will love, nurture, serve as a role model, and even change diapers for her charges, but first and foremost her goal is to teach. At times, parents lose sight of this.

At three years old, Colleen’s parents hadn’t started potty training her yet. Every day she would move her bowels at one o’clock, and you could almost set your watch to it. The girl was very regular. Her teacher spoke with her father, and suggested that they work together to begin to toilet train Colleen.

Her father became instantly offended and told the teacher that he would train his daughter when he believed it was time and it was not her place to make that suggestion. He went on to say that changing his daughter’s diaper was the teacher’s job and she shouldn’t complain about doing her job.

This was a disheartening conversation. To begin with, changing diapers is not in the teacher’s job description for a three year old. In many schools, children who aren’t potty trained aren’t even allowed to enroll. While in our school teachers willingly change children out of love and caring, the teacher’s job is to teach, not change diapers. Potty training can be very difficult, and this teacher was willing to help Colleen’s parents with the task. Her father should have not only appreciated her desire to help out, but also her willingness to change his daughter’s soiled diapers so many times. Face it, a three year old’s bowel movement is very different than that of an infant. It is not a pleasant job for anyone.

Some parents have personal reasons for waiting to potty train their children until they are older, even four or five years old. They believe that if they wait until their child is completely ready on his own, it will be a far easier process. If that is how you feel, at least say thank you to the teacher who needs to clean and change your child while she is at school.

And please don’t lose sight of the teacher’s primary responsibility, which is teaching.

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