I'm not happy with how my son is being treated - what do I do about it?
I'm having a dilemma; my four year old son just started pre-k today, and it is his second experience in a classroom setting, although it has been over a year since he was in child care setting. He was a bit hesitant when I dropped him off but I was confident that he would get back into the swing of things. When I arrived to pick him up, the first thing the teacher said when she saw me was, "Boy, do I gotta talk to you!" I didn't know what to expect. When I saw my son, his pants were unbuttoned and practically falling off, his belt was unbuckled, and his shirt which I so neatly tucked in was all a mess falling out of everywhere. It was apparent that no one was paying him any attention since he was a such a "terror" for them. I was then told that he did not respond when called, he urinated outside after notifying a teacher that he had to "go peepee", and that "there were certain activities that [the class] could not participate in because of his behavior." I felt like they were punishing him by ignoring him. And to top things off, I didn't hear ONE positive thing said about my son. Needless to say, I was more upset at the teacher than at my son. I expected SOME acting out as it was his first day, but I certainly didn't expect this kind of unprofessionalism from a teacher who has been teaching for over ten years. I have since been very upset at the way that he was treated and, essentially, ignored. I was wondering if anyone had any advice on how I should approach this matter without jeapordizing the quality of my son's education.
Leaving your child in the care of others (even those with years of experience) can be stressful on all involved. The initial first few days require adjustments on the part of all of the players - your son, the teacher and you. It can take several days or even weeks for everyone involved to learn the expectations and to mesh as a team.
You mentioned that this is only his second classroom experience. Unfortunately, 4 year olds, need to rehearse many times before the correct behavior becomes automatic. During the next few days, be sure to review the rules and behavioral expectations for preschool with your son.
For instance, based on the example you gave in your post, it would be best to review with your son the rules regarding restroom use. Break the rules down into simple steps that will be easy for him to remember. Also, be sure to find out if there are specific times when a child can use the facilities and how the teacher would like a child to gain permission. In addition, most schools maintain a strict policy regarding adult assistance to children during restroom breaks so you will also want to teach appropriate self care skills. Keep in mind that you can do some things to set your child up for a greater chance for success. Make certain that your son is wearing simple clothing that he able to maintain himself. For instance, he should only be wearing a belt if he can manage to fasten it himself. The same goes for the closure on his trousers or shorts. Try to find easy off and on clothing that will allow him to use the restroom all on his own. This will not only keep the staff free to supervise/manage the entire group but will also foster your son's independence. Greater independence will serve your son well in all settings and ensure success in Kindergarten.
I imagine that arriving to find your son in such disarray was quite unnerving. Be sure to talk with the teacher about what you observed and how the situation made you feel. Maintaining yourself professionally will set the tone, hopefully encouraging the teacher to respond in a like manner.
Remember that the first few days will be an adjustment period. If you find that you still have concerns regarding the teacher's expectations, her professionsalism or her ability to see the good in your son's behavior after the first week or so, you should schedule an appointment to discuss your concerns more directly. Best wishes to you and your son!
Boys Town National Hotline
I think it's really really important that you call your son's teacher TODAY and ask to have a meeting with her. It sounds like you got off on the wrong foot and good communication is essential now to turn things around. I wouldn't use the meeting to acuse her of anything or even to express your (understandable) frustration about what happened. I would just say something like "I was really surprised about what a rough start 'Jimmy' got in school" I'd like to talk about what you and I can both do to help him have a more productive year." Then you could lay out things you've done in the past that have worked well with your son. It's really important that you listen to the teacher too and be understanding about the fact that she's got a LOT of kids to work with. She may not be able to keep them all well tucked in so she may suggest having your son come to school in elastic waist pants until he can manage his own button, belt, and tuck in.
Don't give up on his having a GREAT year...it was only the first day!
Good luck and please let us know how things go moving forward.