Posts Tagged ‘preschool bullies’

Just when you think it’s safe to go back to school

October 1, 2008

Boy’s week has started out rough. 

Sunday night he cried at bedtime because he’s afraid of the dark despite the landing strip night lights available throughout the room. 

Monday night he cried at bedtime because his tummy hurt and his feet hurt because he ate too much and he’s afraid of the dark.  He may have eaten too much as we’re celebrating Big Sister’s birthday and cake and ice-cream were eaten after dinner, so I assumed maybe that was the issue. 

Last night at bedtime (Tuesday, marking three nights in a row), he cried because his legs hurt and his arms hurt because he ate too much and he’s afraid of the dark.  He continued to cry when I told him to go potty one last time and nobody would turn on the light for him. 

“Come here,” I said. 

He walked over with his head down and tears running down his face (I swear if I could make myself cry as an actor like he can, I’d probably be doing some serious paid gigs). 

I reminded him he could turn the light on when he was three and now that he’s four, he ought to be able to turn the light on by himself. 

While he was in the bathroom my wife told me he’d exited the bus that afternoon crying.  Someone “grabbed and twisted” his ear.  The bus driver knew the perpetrator and responded, and an apology was given from the offender, but I’m worried about the excessive crying and its root (not that little boys shouldn’t cry, but the more a little boy cries the bigger a target he paints on himself), and I’m worried about returning to bullying in preschool.  Is the crying symptomatic of not wanting to go to bed because waking up represents going back to school where we’re not having as much fun as we thought we would? 

Is it simply symptomatic of not wanting to go to bed and a fear of missing out on all the fun mom and dad might be having without him?  

Is he just overtired as he falls asleep within seconds of opening the bedtime book?   

So I have some reading to do: 

For empathy:  “Another Preschool Bully” is an Indianapolis’ mom’s reaction and reader commentary.    And for possible exploration (I haven’t had a chance to explore the whole yet:  the Pupil Transportation Safety Institute’s website looks like it has some resources. 

Luckily, we are in a school now that is both accredited and within the public system, so the network of assistance we have available is vast as evidenced by the bus driver’s immediate handling of the situation.  I just want to find out more.

I wonder.

May 2, 2008

Who is reading me locally?  I have linked to, so I imagine I have some local folks reading.  I ask because the front page of the family section of the South Bend Tribune (SBT) tackled the local angle of a topic I wrote about back in February, and while I’ve been remiss in fulfilling my promise to write about executive function and inhibitory control, I still promise to do so. 

Until then, in the SBT article, Howard Dukes discovered local preschool programs working on executive function development, but the title of the program’s different from Tools of the Mind.  I don’t know how related they are or what adaptations have been made, and maybe they’re exactly the same, but “plan, do, review” looks awfully similar.  Dukes cites Adele Diamond, an important child development researcher today, who was cited in the Tools of the Mind story featured in February on National Public Radio. 

“Plan, do, review” comes from High Scope Educational Research Foundation.  You now have two similar curriculums and you know them by name, so when you’re looking for preschools with effective conflict resolution programs and they cite “plan, do, review” or Tools of the Mind, then you can be confident the curriculum is attempting to address a child’s executive function and inhibitory control development. 

Whether you be local or international, I hope I’m helping you out here.  Don’t be shy.  Leave a comment, and if you’ve got some advice, we’d love to hear it.



March 5, 2008

There may not necessarily be easy answers out there, but there are other parents dealing with preschool bullies.  Whether your child is the bully or victim, I believe the answers are hard to find, but if we talk about potential solutions instead of just being surprised, we may at least learn to protect our children by trying out suggestions.  Visitors to my site are looking for “how to handle preschool age bullies,”  “preschooler no longer wants to go to school,” “how to make a preschooler behave,” and “bullies hitting back.”  And those visits are just from the past two days, but lots of folks are just visiting.  If you’re looking at how to deal with these problems, I would like to invite you again to leave a comment.  What are you dealing with, and what are you looking for?  I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but maybe I can find one for you.  Parents out there are exploring their problem publically, too.  A site I found today has a fresh entry this week on this very problem.  You might want to check out “Twins Beautiful Life” here

Accredited Preschools

February 28, 2008

One way to have avoided some of our preschool problems might have been to do a little more research.  We failed miserably in looking carefully, but it can be quite daunting finding a preschool when the price is right, it’s close to home, and you assume that all preschools are alike and you’re not quite sure what to look for.   

Quite frankly, I’m not sure we could have afforded much better, especially when I see the names of preschools within a 15 mile radius of our home that are actually accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).  Only one accredited school is in the town where we live, and that is the school Boy is eligible for next year (eligibility is based on age).  Next year’s school is part of our school district and the curriculum builds the foundation for the Begindergarten and Kindergarten curriculum in our district (things like zoo-phonics, which is a strange animal for this high school teacher).  Then again, the location we chose for Boy this year made similar claims about the preparation for Kindergarten; however, it is not NAEYC accredited.   

Now I’m not saying NAEYC is the gold standard, yet accreditations and certifications from an outside source are signs that a school is doing more than self-evaluating.  Sometimes we need outside eyes to help us see something about ourselves that we might not have otherwise noticed.   

Our family has learned some lessons about school this year, and only through those experiences have I discovered where to find out the information that we needed at the beginning of this year.  When Little Sister’s old enough for preschool, provided her mom wants to let the baby out of the house, we’ve got some resources to explore, and as I find them, I will be sure to share them.  Today, here are two:  

NAEYC sponsors a website.  Negotiating any governmental website can be daunting; however, I think the most useful link is going to be the accreditation search.  There are other links, some for schools seeking affiliation and accreditation with the NAEYC and some for parents trying to find out what the NAEYC and its accreditation process is all about, and the one that caught my eye  is  There are lots of pdf’s to search through too, and my Adobe is unreliable, but if you sift through more at NAEYC’s site, leave a comment and let us know what you’ve found to be valuable.  

I consider it a little ironic that I learned about NAEYC and its accreditation program through pamphlets I picked up at Boy’s school titled, get this, “Media Violence & Children” and “Helping Children Learn Self-Control.”  For information on why this is ironic, take a look here and here.     

The second source comes from another pamphlet I grabbed that looked promising:  “Promoting Educational Achievement for Children Early (P.E.A.C.E.):  A Child Care Expulsion Prevention Program.”  P.E.A.C.E. is affiliated with the 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 [which 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 free 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 have faced as a family, you might consider contacting your local United Way to see what programs are available for you.  The United Way, after all, does emphasize its program “Success by 6.”   

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.   

Another case for Universal Preschool

February 19, 2008

While much of my focus is on pre-school bullies, and I’ve suggested universal pre-school as a possible starting point for combating biters, kickers, hitters and all around abusers, there are broader calls with what some might argue to be stronger arguments for universal pre-school offerings. 


USA Today’s editorial blog from February 18 presents some of those arguments.  The editorial board of USA Today recognizes that in order to combat high school dropout rates and graduate more students from high school who will go on to earn more than their non-grad counterparts, early intervention is one tool to keep kids in school. 


From addressing attendance and literacy problems early on, more students may be likely and willing to stay in school even if their state does not mandate their attendance.  Commitment to universal pre-school suggests to me a similar commitment to the needs of young children and their future success.  If communities are not investing in the educational needs of their children, what kind of future does that community face?  

Universal Preschool

February 14, 2008

What did you learn in Kindergarten? 

If you’re like me, that was a long time ago.  There are moments frozen in my memory, but what’d I learn?  I don’t remember.  Of course back then, the idea of a full day of kindergarten was unheard of.

The state of Indiana – the state in which I teach — is working on requiring full day Kindergarten, and the state of Michigan – where I reside — requires all students to attend Kindergarten.  With such laws, do they require preschool?  Of course not.  Nevertheless, I’m torn about preschool. 

When I was growing up, preschool was called play school.  We probably worked on colors, and if Mom’s reading this, she can certainly correct me on what we did and didn’t do.  I vaguely remember taking little trips to the post office to see how things worked and to the fire department to check out the trucks, and there was always reading going on in our house.  But it seems to me that preschool’s a necessary element to a child’s readiness for Kindergarten these days, and Emily Guevera of the Beaumont Enterprise helps explain why that’s the case. 

Seems to me that if we’re going to require students to attend Kindergarten, and if we’re going to expect children to be able to sit through a full day of school who’ve never had a schooling experience, that these states need to invest in stronger preschool programs.  But I’m not really just talking to the states here.  Senator McCain, what’s your plan?  Senator Obama, what’s yours?  Governor Huckabee, how will you support preschool programs nationally?  Senator Clinton’s got the Head Start plan, but is she also prepared to support moms and dads who need childcare/workplace assistance in assuring their children can attend preschool?  In 2003, 1/3 of at risk children in the state of Michigan were not receiving the services they needed.  With all the talk of universal health care, perhaps we should consider universal preschool too. 



Rated E for Everyone

February 12, 2008

Not that I’ve been overwhelmed with comments to date, but of those received, folks have been supportive of the situation we face here at the homestead and in Boy’s school.  There have been questions about the staff at the school:  Where are they when all this is going on, for instance.  And while I’m not saying I’m not asking those same questions myself, I also come back to the other child’s parents. 

A while back, I indicated the director of the program alluded to an earlier conversation with O’s folks, in which video games played a role.  Now we don’t have a gaming system in our home, so I’m not familiar with titles or ratings, but that’s just a personal preference.  I’m not one to judge what you’ve got in your home and what your kids play.  We just don’t have it in our house because it’s one more distraction that would keep the kids (and me to be honest) from doing what needs to get done. 

I bring this up now though because my wife pointed out to me a blurb in our recent Parenting magazine dated March 2008:  “You may not be surprised to hear that exposure to violent media is linked to youth violence (as strongly as poverty, substance abuse, or abusive parents, a new study shows).  But researchers found that violent video games may have the biggest impact of all.” 

There’s that poverty correlation to violence again. 

Desensitization to violence is a step to becoming violent.  Does it lead to violence?  I’d argue not directly, but I would say it brings you closer.  If I wanted to know why my kid is biting and hitting another kid and saying, “No you shut up m—-r f—-r,” I’d evaluate what my child is exposed to. 

Dirty little secrets

February 6, 2008

Ashamedly, there are braver people out there than I.  In looking for others out there with concerns similar to mine, I came across what I understand to be Jeannine Garsee’s journal Elusive Sanity, where her topic Tuesday was “Bullying and a Bit of Self-Disclosure.”  She started out with a nice shout out to Judy Gregerson’s Bad Girls Club journal and shared the Bad Girls’ link to 

LoveOurChildren is a site to add to my own favorites, but I wanted to applaud Garsee for her self-disclosure.  It’s hard to admit to having been a bully, and I’ve not fully disclosed what I have done in my own past, though I have briefly alluded to my experience on the receiving end.  What’s up with that Mike?  Can’t handle the truth?  Honestly?  No.  It’s shameful.  It’s stupid.  I know what I did.  He knows what I did.  I consider him a friend now, and like Garsee, we’ve never talked about what happened. 

 The kicker?  I was cruel even after others had been cruel to me.  And while I worry about my son being a victim (and does ignoring the bully really work Mom and Dad?), I worry just as much about him not learning anything by being a victim and being just as big a jerk – if not bigger – to another kid just because he’s fat, wears glasses and has asthma. 

Shared concerns

February 5, 2008

Over at, 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 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 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?

Are the candidates listening?

January 31, 2008

I am a dad.  I am a student.  I also teach high school.  As such, while I can imagine what it’s like to have three children five years of age and under to be vying for your attention, and I can imagine what it’s like to seek the attention of a teacher, and I can imagine what it’s like to monitor and administer to the needs of 32 adolescents, I cannot imagine the patience I would need to occupy, teach and protect five to ten little ones in a pre-school setting. 

With the problems my son has faced in pre-school with what I suspect to be bullying, and the possibility that his bully may be expelled, I’ve dedicated much of my coursework this semester to looking for solutions.  How can I help my son deal with aggressive peers so he does not become a bully.  So he does not perpetuate his own victimhood.  How can I help the bullies in pre-school get the education they need and deserve just as much as my son?  How can I help parents of both victim and bully to become greater advocates for their children? 

USA Today published an opinion yesterday, and I’ve written about this before, that a study was released earlier this year indicating pre-schools with too few teachers and too many students witness higher numbers of expulsion rates.  Is universal pre-school the answer?  Oklahoma seems to think so.  “Oklahoma offers ‘universal’ preschool which means that parents of all incomes have the option of sending their 4-year-olds to a state-sponsored preschool, transportation included. The state also insists that all preschool teachers hold bachelor’s degrees, and they are paid the same as regular school teachers.”  My home state has yet to make kindergarten mandatory, so we lag a bit behind such an offering. 

Oklahoma’s policy is not mandated, it is an option, and I think its being optional is a positive, but what I like best about Oklahoma’s policy is the bachelor’s degree requirement and pay.  I’m curious though as to class size, and the article indicates there are dangers in states seeking to replicate Oklahoma’s success, and Florida is one example of how not to build a universal preschool program:  “Florida rushed its preschool system out the door with seemingly little attention to setting standards. Florida cosmetologists face stiffer licensing than preschool teachers, and preschool operators there are free to pursue a choose-your-own-curriculum policy.”

With early childhood education funding part of the current presidential debate, like my colleague Jeanette’s concerns with health care, where would the money come from?  More importantly, will it be done right?