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Helping Preschoolers Navigate the Two Worlds of Home & School

13 Sep 2016 by Jacquelynn Jauregui

The first day of preschool can be as exciting as it is challenging for a young child. While they may not be able to articulate it clearly, children likely have thoughts, concerns and questions such as:

“Why aren't my parents staying with me?”

“Who will I play with?”

“What if my teacher doesn’t like me?’  

“Look at all the toys! I don't have these toys at my house.”

“Why do I have to sit on this spot and wait for my turn. I don’t want to share these blocks!”

Not only does this new environment have an overwhelming amount of sensory stimulation but it also brings up the valuable concept that a child has "two different worlds."  Ed Sheeran and the Sesame Street characters explain the differences between a child’s home and school world in their video “Two Different Worlds.” In a child’s home environment their belongings are theirs, they can move freely from room to room at their own leisure, and get all the attention their parents can provide.

As the lyrics state, “At home I can sit here and there, in the couch, my bed, or easy chair” and “speak whenever I please, I can talk real loud and shoot the breeze.” However, at school toys are to be shared, rules are to be followed and teachers must divide their attention between all the children in the class. The song describes the world at school: “At school I raise my hand in the air, when there’s something that I want to share,” and “In school I have a special place, It’s my desk, and that’s learning space.”

Since both the home and school environments are important to a child’s development, how do we link the common and favorable traits that each provide? Let’s look at the following dimensions to illustrate how teachers and parents can use CLASS principles to ease the transition between these  “two different worlds.”

  • Positive Climate- Teachers can talk with children at eye level and engage in social conversation to learn more about the child. Questions like “Tell me about your home. Do you have any brothers or sisters? What do you like to do/play at home?” all demonstrate to the child that you are interested in them as individuals, wanting to know about their interests and home life. Parents can reinforce the positive climate by asking the same open-ended questions about the people and events that happen at school. By doing so, they are expressing an interest in the child’s day which helps them understand that what happens outside of their home environment is equally important and has its place in their life.
  • Teacher Sensitivity- Addresses a teacher’s ability to acknowledge a child’s academic and emotional needs, which allows them to provide the appropriate support to individual children. Acknowledging a child’s emotional state with statements like, “I see you are sad today. How can I help you? Do you miss your mom? I know that can be hard. What would make you feel better?” Parents can reinforce this concept by determining a child’s anxieties and finding creative and supportive resolutions. For example a child that may have separation anxieties could be soothed by bringing a comfort item or picture to keep in their backpack or cubby to remind them that home is not too far away.  
  • Behavior Management- It is important for teachers to set clear and specific expectations for children so they know what is expected of them in the classroom, as the rules in the classroom may be very different from their rules at home. Include the children in talking about and creating the rules, “How can we be safe in the classroom?” or “What are some rules you have at home?” Once these expectations are established be sure they are easy for children to understand, and repeat them regularly. While parents shouldn’t try to maintain all the same expectations of school behavior in the home environment, they should be aware of them and when presented the opportunity express their support. For example, children new to school settings often raise their hands to get their parents attention at home. Parents can try say something to the effect of “thank you for raising your hand like you do in school, but here at home you don’t have to raise your hand.”

Ed Sheeran's song “Two Different Worlds” punctuates the importance of the two worlds and that “both worlds are awesome” With knowledge and intentionality teachers and parents can work together using the CLASS dimensions to ensure that each half of of a child’s world is symbiotic and supportive.


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