My son just started K. We were ambivalent about starting him because he makes the cutoff by 2 weeks, and holding kids back seems to be in fashion. But we started him because the school felt he was ready, and we didn't want to give up the spot in this school.
So during his first week, he had a terrible experience and I am just so heartbroken over it, especially since I could have (most likely) prevented it if I had anticipated it, which maybe I should have. He's been potty trained since age 2 and a half and has never had accidents. But we still help him wipe when he poops. I did not think to mention this to his K teacher or ask about it. This was just never an issue at his former school. Oddly enough, I DID mention it to his preschool teacher at the beginning of last year. She was so blase about it..."oh yeah, they all need help with that, don't worry about it." So I guess I just figured this skill comes when it comes and then it was off my radar. I saw that his K room has its own little bathroom in the classroom, and I didn't really even think about it, but I guess I just assumed it would be the same kind of thing where the kids are mostly independent, but if they occasionally needed help, someone would help them. Wrong.
So here's the story his teacher gave me via email right after the incident. My son came out of the bathroom with his pants off while Spanish was happening (different teacher who came to the classroom) and asked for help wiping. He got upset when the teacher said she couldn't. Then his own regular teacher happened to walk in. She took him into the bathroom, and he asked her to wipe him. She told him he must do it himself (because, she told me, they are not allowed to touch the children in the bathroom!) He was upset and crying and said it was too hard. Then his nametag he had just made fell into the toilet and he got even more upset. His teacher tried to talk him through it and finally asked if he wanted to go to the nurse for help. He said no and was eventually able to calm down, pull his pants up, and go to art. At pick-up, she said he was fine the rest of the day but that it was a very traumatic experience for him not to be able to do this himself. I wanted to say that what was traumatic was the fact that no one would help him, but I didn't say anything. I did express surprise about the policy that they could not touch the children in the bathroom, and asked if this even applied to the preschool--3 year olds! She said yes, even them, there could be lawsuits, etc. I asked if this policy was written anywhere and that I didn't remember seeing it. She said she thought it was. I apologized for the disruption and told her we would work with him on this.
My son was extremely upset and humiliated by this, to the point that it took quite awhile before he could even tolerate talking with us about it. My tack was that this was a crazy rule, that his teacher really wanted to help him, but sometimes people have to follow rules at their jobs and that was what she had to do. At the risk of sounding negative about the school, I felt I really needed to validate him and make sure he did not feel he had done anything wrong. I also told him I was sorry I didnt know about that rule so I could have taught him sooner, but not to worry, we would help him learn to do it himself every time and he wouldn't need any help! I was also careful to point out that most of the rules at school are good, and had him think of some good ones, etc....He is still very sensitive about this whole incident and we have had to tread very lightly in getting him to practice doing it on his own. But he has gone to school willingly after this and seems OK overall.
The next day there was a note in his bag saying she wanted to make sure she had given us the correct info on the policy so she had spoken to the principal, and she attached a copy of this section of the policy. It indeed taked about being potty trained, which explicitly included being completely independent with cleaning self, getting zipped, buttoned, buckled, etc (those things he does). This was under the heading "Student Acceptance." Probably why I blew by it when I read the parent manual--my kid was already accepted to the school, so I likely didn't think there was anything relevant in that section.
I feel so stupid for not anticipating this, and so sad for my boy to have had such an experience his first week of school. I feel responsible, but at the same time, what kind of crazy world is this when a teacher can't help a child in need because of some insane fear of lawsuits? Over helping a 5 year old in the bathroom? A teacher? I just wish she would have/could have just helped him this one time, then addressed it with me. After I feel less upset about it, I'm thinking about talking to the principal abou this. Not to complain about the teacher--I like her very much and I believe her hands were tied. But about the rigidity of this policy with such young kids, and really, shouldn't they flag this somehow if it's that strict a policy? Shouldn't this have been in the "ABC's of Kindergarten" 6 page handout we got with the welcome packet? Or at the very least, in the parent manual under "toileting' or "school readiness" or something other than "student acceptance?" Or am I really the only one who may not have figured out this situation?
Thanks to anyone still reading this long post! I appreciate any input.