Cameras in Preschool Classrooms: Who Are They Really Watching?
It is hard to leave your children in the care of others but we have to do it. We know that a good preschool experience builds socialization skills and self-esteem. Many parents need child care so they can work to put food on their tables. Children in developmentally appropriate and play based preschools develop a love of learning that is hard to replicate at home. There are many reasons that parents seek the best preschool but the decision is not without angst. Sometimes, parents find comfort when they are shown video cameras in the classrooms. In some preschools, parents are given internet access to the cameras and in some they are not. There has been recent controversy about internet access because parents have objected to their own behavior being caught on camera or the behavior of their children being watched by other parents. Even if this access is not available or becomes less so because of lawsuits about right to privacy, some parents find comfort in the existence of the cameras. It feels like someone is watching out for their children, but is that why the cameras are really there?
I teach professional development courses for early childhood professionals from all different schools. More and more as I present ideas for engaging children’s curiosity, teachers tell me that they would love to do everything I present but they are not permitted and they are being watched. They are forced to do circle times that are too long for even the average adult attention span. They are forced to make children who are far too young sit with workbooks for 30 minutes or more. They are not permitted to be creative in their presentation of new concepts. They are being watched. They describe school directors sitting in offices watching them all day long and jumping on the chance to admonish them for veering slightly off a scripted curriculum that has been handed to them (which in English translates to “it doesn’t matter what the children are curious about because this is only about making money off of parents’ fears.”) The teachers repeated report that they are the ones being watched.
If school administrators cannot trust their teachers, why are your children there? There is something wrong when adults who have been educated in how to teach children in a developmentally appropriate way need to be scripted and watched. One might argue that not all preschool teachers are educated in education. The ability to teach is a skill set. Teachers are taught about cognitive theories, classroom management, typical behaviors and strategies. Just because people have knowledge or love children doesn’t mean they are qualified to teach. But that’s an article for another day. Suffice it to say, you want to find a preschool with qualified staff. So again I ask – If you have found a preschool with qualified staff, why does the administration need to watch them all day long? And if they do not trust their teachers, why do you?
Can you trust your child’s teacher if the school director does not? It is possible that the teacher is a wonderful person trying to do the right thing for the children. I meet teachers who are so frustrated by being unable to do what they know should be done with preschoolers. They know what is good and right but cannot do those things because of the package that has been sold to parents. Parents today are so afraid. They are raising children in a test oriented educational society that has everyone worried that their children won’t measure up. If you want your children to have a foundation for success, you must allow preschools to teach them in a developmentally appropriate environment that fosters a love of learning and builds self-esteem. This cannot be taught with a script. This will not happen when your children are frustrated by being asked to sit still too long. This foundation is impossible to build when your child’s curiosity is invalidated by an adult agenda. Just like anything else, if it sounds too good to be true, it is. If cameras are required to ensure that promises made to you happen, then the promises are the problem.
This time of year as many of you shop for preschools, I implore you to ask about the camera systems. I applaud schools that are protecting your children by having cameras for security. Unfortunately, we need to deter crime by having visible cameras. Security is different than mistrust. Ask the questions – Are these cameras for security only? Do you watch your teachers during the day? If you do watch your teachers, why don’t you trust them?
For more information, click on these titles: "Shopping for a Preschool" and "Does Your Preschool Care About Relationship Development?"
Read my articles in “The Shriver Report”: "Stress in the Family: Helping Our Children to Cope" ; "From Working Mom to Working Woman: The Opportunity of the Empty Nest""Family Finances: Tips To Teaching Your Kids About Money"
Read this blog for more articles. Ask your parenting & education questions and learn about early childhood workshops for parents & educators on my website - Helping Kids Achieve
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