When I landed my first preschool classroom job, there were a lot of learning curves to overcome. I had become used to working with only one family at a time from my past experiences with nannying. After the initial introduction to families and students at the preschool, I began to fall into a steady routine of greeting the parents and child in the morning, inviting the child into the play with the other children, and waving goodbye to the parents. It was like we had come to an unspoken agreement that the parents viewed the classroom as the “teacher’s space” and there was very little interaction. I knew the parent-teacher relationship was important but wasn’t sure how to further develop that.
One morning, a usually excited student of mine named Ramsey, was hiding behind his dad at the door, refusing to come inside. This was unusual behavior for him as he would usually run into the classroom at full speed, ready to put on his construction hat at the block center. His father began to explain to me that there have been a lot of changes lately within their household. Ramsey’s mother had just had a baby and Ramsey was struggling with this. At first, I furrowed my brow as I thought to myself about the fact that I had known Ramsey’s mom was pregnant but hadn’t taken the time to talk with the family about the effects this could have on Ramsey within his home and school life. I spent longer than usual speaking with Ramsey’s dad, asking about observations he saw at home and changed behaviors. We went back and forth as he shared details about what was now different with Ramsey’s schedule, who he was spending time with at home, etc.
Throughout the day, Ramsey struggled hard with his emotions. He acted out to other kids, protested almost every activity we did, and overall was not himself. During some down time, I took the time to reflect on all the information Ramsey’s dad had provided me with. I began to think about all the other children within the classroom who had younger siblings and what their families might have experienced during this transition time. At the end of the day, I took the time to talk with parents at pickup and began to write down what they observed with their children in this transitional period and what they felt was most helpful. I was able to collect book recommendations they shared with their children, shifts they had to make in their schedules, and things they wished someone would have mentioned to them at the time. I was provided with a lot of resources I would have never thought of had I not collaborated with other families.
The next day at drop off, I invited Ramsey’s dad into the classroom and shared with him some ideas I had to help Ramsey during this time. Between different children’s books and pretend play baby set ups, Ramsey’s dad suggested showing Ramsey that other children in the class had siblings at home too. The next few weeks were filled with circle times revolving around families, how they expand, and different roles such as older and younger siblings. The shift in Ramsey felt like day and night. His once frustration with a new baby in his space, turned into excitement of sharing with the classroom. Ramsey’s family and I stayed in close contact through that time period, updating each other on what we were seeing. Ramsey’s story showed me that collaborating with families is important. I believe that families, teachers, and students benefit when a partnership is formed between all three.
April 26, 2022 — 4:25 pm
Hello Kali! Wow, what an inspiring story! I totally agree that sometimes starting relationships with families can be hard and intimidating. I love how you powered through for yourself and Ramsey! It sounds like many children benefited from this experience!
April 27, 2022 — 8:34 am
Hi Kali, Thanks for sharing your story in your essay and highlighting the importance of partnering with families in the classroom. You used so many skills (observation, reflection, communication, collaboration, problem solving) to be an intentional teacher and support the child and family!
April 28, 2022 — 7:10 am
Wow, Kali! Partnering with families to support children in their education is so important. You’ve used your knowledge of this (and emergent curriculum!) to make a real difference in the life of this child, with your intentional interactions with them and their family.
April 28, 2022 — 7:59 pm
I really enjoyed the flow of your essay. It was interesting to see the growth in your relationship with the parents and Ramsey. I think your experiences are very telling to why it’s important to communicate with families, and the impact we can have as a team when we collaborate our efforts. I am glad to see you have had positive experiences interacting with parents. I loved reading that Ramsey was able to be excited/proud of the new addition in his family. It sounds like those moments of sharing family structures built up community in your room as well.
April 30, 2022 — 2:45 pm
Hello Kali, I loved reading your I believe essay and the relationship you helped build with not only Ramsey but with Ramsey’s family. You used resources and incorporated them into the classroom to help Ramsey and his parent’s. These experiences where based on the information you gathered and you shared it with the classroom by incorporating activities that would help Ramsey through his tough time of having a new baby in the home. You are going to be an amazing asset to the Early Childhood profession and community..
May 4, 2022 — 9:44 am
This was a great essay. The thoughtfulness at reaching out to other families in order to support Ramsey shows a high level of dedication and care in your work. Thank you for sharing.
May 4, 2022 — 10:52 am
Wonderful use of both play therapy with Ramsey and good counseling techniques with the family. Sometimes figuring out underlying issues with those that cannot accurately communicate their inner thoughts can be really challenging, and you appear to have done a masterful job!