Effective Teacher-Student Interactions in Preschool

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  • 0:04 Teacher-Student Interactions
  • 0:52 Individualizing Interactions
  • 1:42 Interacting Through Play
  • 2:21 Body Level, Language Level
  • 3:18 Bringing Families In
  • 4:08 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

As a preschool teacher, you know that having strong interactions with your young students is a major aspect of your job. This lesson gives you some ideas about how to make each interaction meaningful and effective.

Teacher-Student Interactions

At Sunnytown Preschool, parents know that their young children are in good hands. The director, Lindsay, tells each family with certainty that their children will be known, heard, and respected at her school. Children at Sunnytown learn at their own pace, make strong and lasting relationships with peers, and trust their teachers implicitly, even during hard times.

What is it that makes education at Sunnytown so meaningful? Lindsay believes that the key is for teachers to know how to interact, or mutually relate, with preschool-aged students. When teachers know how to interact effectively with the children in their care, children can relax, learn, be themselves, and form strong connections. Lindsay knows that there are some key features of effective student-teacher interactions in the preschool environment.

Individualizing Interactions

First of all, Lindsay helps Sunnytown teachers remember that preschool students really benefit most from individualized, or one-on-one, interactions. Many young children are overwhelmed by interactions that happen in a large group, and it matters to them tremendously that their teachers and caregivers take the time to know and be with them as individuals. Individualizing interactions means:

  • Spending solid amounts of one-on-one time talking to, listening to, and playing with each child in the preschool classroom
  • Planning activities specifically designed to meet individual students' needs
  • Working slowly and gradually to help students know and respect one another and make friends with each other as individuals
  • Showing each child that they are known by their teachers and that their presence in the classroom truly matters

Interacting Through Play

Play is one of the most important components of the daily Sunnytown schedule, and Lindsay knows that the amount of time they devote to free and semi-structured play helps make for more effective interactions. After all, young children learn through play, and they often communicate their needs and interests through play as well.

When Sunnytown children are playing, teachers are deeply involved. They listen, watch, document, and sometimes participate in children's play. By following children's lead as they play and facilitating strong environments for play, Sunnytown teachers get to know the students better and can interact with them in ways they can really understand and relate to.

Body Level, Language Level

Sometimes, interactions in the preschool environment get challenging, such as when a child is struggling with separation, when a child is behaving badly, or when children get into intense conflicts with one another. Lindsay reminds her teachers regularly that these challenges are developmentally appropriate; in other words, there is nothing surprising or concerning about these encounters.

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