Posts Tagged ‘preschool expulsion’

Another preschool bully resource

April 2, 2008

            This entry has now been added to the “Accredited Preschools” entry. 

If you know where to look, there are often resources available in your community to help with day care/preschool problems.  I indicated in an earlier entry that I only discovered the National Association for the Education of Young Children when I picked up a pamphlet at Boy’s preschool.  The same day I grabbed that pamphlet, in search of answers to his problem with bullies in preschool, I grabbed another that looked promising:  “Promoting Educational Achievement for Children Early (P.E.A.C.E.):  A Child Care Expulsion Prevention Program.”  They are affiliated with Riverwood Center, a county specific organization, and the United Way. 

           

            Boy has not been in danger of expulsion, but his bully has, and P.E.A.C.E. shares why my community, and any community really, has reason to be concerned about Yale’s studies regarding the alarming rates of preschool expulsions.  Beyond recognizing that “social and emotional competence of young children predicts their academic performance in 1st grade, over and above their cognitive skills and family background,” and that “young children who act in anti-social ways are provided with less instruction and less positive feedback [leads them] to like school less, learn less and attend less,” P.E.A.C.E. suggests a link between poverty, inadequate prenatal care, child abuse, and participation in childcare 40-60 hours a week as risk factors for children.

           Because of these risk factors, P.E.A.C.E. “provides consultation for parents and child care providers” for preschool aged children who exhibit “behavioral or emotional challenges that put them at risk of expulsion for childcare.”  In other words, even day care centers, including “anyone who directs or works in a day care setting” is eligible for services through this program, and services include training for providers and families.  P.E.A.C.E. is only available in my county, but as indicated above, the program is associated with the United Way, so if you are struggling with the kinds of problems we’ve faced as a family, you might consider contacting your local United Way to see what programs are available to you. 

          For me, I plan to contact the name on the pamphlet and share our story.  I will be sure to share what comes of that conversation here.    

A bully update

February 11, 2008

It’s a bad weather day.  No school for Boy, Big Sister, or me. 

I do, however, have an update on Boy’s plight.  He’s in a new classroom, with a new teacher, and he’s making new friends.  Same school though, so that means Boy and O (his friend that bites and hits even though “friends don’t hit”) have lunch together.  I figure there can be safety at lunch, because all the adults are present watching over the little table. 

Then again, just last week, according to my wife (who I trust not to fabricate stories of this nature), O grabbed a beater from the counter (yes, the kind you would find attached to a mixer) and hit a younger kid’s arm with it as she and Boy were hanging up his coat.  O is evidently still not suspended or expelled.  But if he is, what happens to him? 

Some folks probably wonder why I should care.  A lot of folks have wondered what the deal is with the preschool itself, but I keep coming back to this other kid’s parents. 

I recognize that one solution is communication.  But for a lot of preschoolers I keep hearing parents and teachers demanding that these children – bully and victim — “use their words.”  Clearly they don’t have these words that we want them to use.  And have you tried holding a conversation with one of these kids?  Do you recognize how easily persuaded they are?  How easily you can get them to say what you want, or how easily an idea can be put into their heads?

Until the kids are old enough, you’ve got to work on educating the parents and continue teaching the kids as best you can until they’ve reached the developmental milestone that helps them control their own behavior. 

There have to be programs out there, and I imagine there’s funding through grants that would support bringing programs in, but how do you make parents attend?

Though how hard would it be, really?  If you’re a private school, make it a condition of enrollment.  If you want your kid to go to our preschool, you — the parent — have to participate in our sessions.  At http://amy34.livejournal.com, there’s the tale of a co-op preschool that requires its participating parents to attend various seminars.  One such seminar she attended was on anger and bullies, I’d love to have all parents where Boy goes attend that one.  But the ultimate solution the seminar had for bullies saddens me as much as it does the author.  Sometimes you just have to hit back.  Amy’s not the only one to make such a suggestion either — not that she makes the suggestion as it came from the presenter of the seminar.  A famous children’s book author’s suggested the same, and at one time I was appalled, but I’m not as strong in that conviction anymore.               

Shared concerns

February 5, 2008

Over at blog.baby-wise.com, there was an entry a couple weeks back that I just picked up over a Technorati search on preschool bullies.  The question posed there is:  How does your preschooler behave in school?   

 Well there’s the rub, eh?  How do you know how your preschooler behaves in school?  I assume I’m like most parents in admitting that I really don’t know.  I hope my son’s teachers will tell me when he’s been out of line, but otherwise, I believe that he’s going to behave at school in much the same way he behaves at home, and for some reason I believe maybe he’s going to behave a little better.  I have no reason to believe this.  I’ve not watched a session of him at school. 

I’m acting on a warped system of faith here. 

Anyway, the concern over at blog.baby-wise.com was linked to the ABC report on the Yale study  from the Detroit Free Press on preschool expulsions that I discovered in a South Bend Tribune piece. 

ABC’s report is eye-opening.  I’m not surprised with its case of Janine Butler who was threatened with knives, scratched and hit.  I was a camp counselor for special needs adolescents for several summers and had a young man scratch my wrists with his fingernails until he was pulled off.  His mental capacity was probably along the lines of that of a toddler, so there were no hard feelings until he came back the next day and tried it again. 

What are you supposed to do in a situation like that?  “Author Walter Gilliam, director of the Zigler Center in Child Development and Social Policy, told ABCNEWS.com that he didn’t set out to study preschool expulsions. But when he was analyzing publicly funded prekindergarten policies at 3,898 schools in 40 states, he found expulsion rates three times higher than for older grades.”  That’s a problem, no?  Who’s to blame?  The headline of the piece suggests parents, schools and poverty as potential culprits.  What say you?

Cause for Concern

January 30, 2008

What is the problem?

How do you gather evidence that a three and a half year old is being bullied at pre-school?  It’s not like his memories are clear.  Getting accurate information from one that age is difficult.  Any reference on any particular day could be a reference to an event that actually happened that day, or the kid could be reliving the same event over and over again in his mind.  He threw a rock in the lake and it made a big splash on one day, and when you ask him six months later what he did today, he threw a rock in the lake and it made a big splash.   

 

But after this past New Year’s, when Boy returned to school from winter break on a Monday just fine, yet on Tuesday was so upset his mom had to take him home, I started to get concerned again.  A three and a half year old should not be afraid to go to school, but was he afraid?  Maybe he just had a great time at home on vacation.  Heck, it’s not like I was chomping at the bit to get back to work.  When mom picked him up on Wednesday, she found out Boy had nearly pulled a bookcase over on top of himself (where was the teacher, and what was Boy doing yanking on a bookcase), and then on Thursday it all hit the wall.  The ouch report indicated the kids were walking down the hall, holding on to their loops and O___ bit Boy on the hand.  There were no toys involved, so it was not a sharing issue. Admittedly, Boy has the power to annoy, but the kid bit him hard enough for me to see it six hours later when I got home from work.

 

Some folks we spoke with said, “Get him outta there.”  But why should my kid be the one who has to leave?  I want him to be able to learn how to deal with these kinds of problems.  I want him to be able to assert himself.  I also don’t want him to bite, punch, kick or “hurt him’s bones.”  At the same time, no child should be afraid to go to school.  If at three a child no longer wants to go to school, that’s an ugly looking 15 years on the educational road ahead. 

 

Is there a solution?

The next day my wife talked to the director of the preschool center.  They offered to move Boy to another class away from Biter.  He was in the 3-4 group, and they could move him to the 2-3.  Well, that’s something, I thought.  The director also indicated she’d meet with the other child’s parents.  Again.  Last time it seems there was a discussion about violent video games. 

 

The father said to the director, “Oh, you’re one of those people.” 

 

My wife got the impression that they would probably expel the other child.  What do those 15 years on the educational road ahead look like for a kid who gets expelled from pre-school?

 

What are you prepared to do?

When m – – – – r f – – – – r is spewed from the mouth of a child in a 3-4 year old classroom, there’s a problem.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve said those words, and I’ve said them in front of my kids, but not as a part of my everyday vocabulary.  We have no video games at home.  But is that the solution?  Yeah, there aren’t any video games, but the kids have way more time in front of the television than I did as a kid.  I guess the point I’m trying to make here is that I admit I’m not a perfect parent, and I don’t want to tell another parent how to raise their kid, and I don’t think the schools, county, state or feds should raise their kid either, but when your kid bites my kid and there’s clearly a problem, I want you to be willing to find a solution beyond criticizing the director of the center for hating on you because your kid at three or four enjoys shoot ‘em up video games. 

 

Were I the parent of a biter, and evidently an habitual one, I know I’d want to find out what’s going on.  In fact, that’s what I’m trying to do, and I’m taking steps to make the situation a little better for my kid.  What are you doing? 

 

It’s not like there aren’t options, though in early education some of those options are limited.  Look at it this way, if the other kid is at preschool as long as my kid, there’s 2 and a half hours of contact time for the teacher to have with the kid.  That’s not a long time to observe what’s going on.  Plus, when you’re lead teacher for 3-4 year olds, how do you watch a single kid for suspected behavioral issues when you’ve got 5-10 other kids working with permanent colors, glue and simultaneously wetting their pants. 

 

The reason I ask is this: 

MSNBC did a story yesterday morning showing correlations between bullies, victims and ADHD.  As an adult who didn’t know anybody with ADHD growing up, but as a teacher after the diagnostic boom in the early 1990’s I’ve been suspect of some diagnoses in the past, but I must say it’s an issue that holds more water for me.   Regardless, early behavior problems need to be monitored by the school and the parents because the earlier you can catch a problem a kid’s dealing with, the earlier you can help that kid and maybe make her life a little easier. 

 

See, according to the article, kids with ADHD symptoms are “four times as likely as others to be bullies.”  But it gets worse.  “[C]hildren with ADHD symptoms were almost 10 times as likely as others to have been regular targets of bullies prior to the onset of those symptoms, according to the report in the February issue of the journal Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology.”  These aren’t American kids they studied either.  The study was done in Sweden, and I’ve got a hunch the problem is bigger in America than in Sweden.   

 

What does the study mean?  There’re a couple possibilities:  The ADHD kid may just be a jerk, or “it might turn out that the attention problems they’re exhibiting could be related to the stress of being bullied.” 

 

Linda Carroll interviewed Harvard professor William Pollack for the story, and while he doesn’t necessarily contribute anything a rational adult couldn’t figure out for him or herself, he does point to the urgency of the problem.  First, you have a hard time learning when you’re afraid.  I tell you, after some creep spit on me in middle school it got real hard for a long time for me to want to go to school.  Second, Pollack reminds us that bullied kids often turn into bullies.   

 

So what do we do?  Medication for ADHD, the story reminds us, doesn’t treat aggression.  It helps a person focus, it doesn’t deal with depression or anger.   

 

What am I prepared to do?

More than anything, the story starts to look like every other piece of parenting advice out there.  You’ve got to look for signs.  You have to communicate with your kid (and at three that’s a tall order).  You’ve got to look to the school for help and advice when they let you know your child is a problem, and if they won’t help you, maybe you need to find a new setting for your child. 

 

Researching “Boys will be boys”

January 23, 2008

As a graduate student in Liberal Studies, one of my tasks this semester is to blog about our coursework.  See my About page for more information. 

There will be weekly blog assignments that a public intellectual can use and cite (the last entry for one on storytelling is an important tool to the effective blogger), but from what I understand there will also be a longer series of blogs about a topic of my choosing that is of importance to a community.  The size of this community depends in part on you and how effectively I create tags and searches and links. 

Currently, I subscribe to Yahoo news feeds and Google news feeds and Google blog feeds and Technorati feeds on the following three tags:  preschool bullies, preschool expulsion and raising boys. 

Right now, the information coming in is thin.  Maybe I’m not searching right, maybe I’m too prejudicial about what kind of information I want and what kind of information I don’t want, maybe it’s just too early or maybe there aren’t many people talking about my concern.  I notice there are lots of moms dealing with this problem in forums, educators dealing with this problem in forums, and the media is starting to pay attention, but there aren’t many dads.  Where are you dads?  How are you raising your boys to be decent yet able to stand up for themselves and others?  How do you teach a three year old those values?  

Despite my data collection concerns however, in the local newspaper last week there was an article that caught my eye (“Preschool expulsions examined” by Lori Higgins for the Detroit Free Press), and in light of the problems my son has faced in preschool, I have decided dealing with preschool bullies is an issue of urgency and a discussion worth having.  If you have suggestions for me, I welcome your comments, and if you want to participate in the discussion, please join in.    


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