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Is is appropriate to write a letter to the school regarding their discipline policy? - Page 2

post #21 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by beanma View Post

I do think detention in elementary school is extra harsh. I haven't heard of that before.

 

I think I'd want to know what they qualify as "detention" as I've yet to see it used in the way it was used when I was growing up. Growing up, if you got a detention, a note went home to your parents to sign and you stayed after school. None of that in the schools we've been involved with. Elementary school would retain kids during recess for 5 minutes and call it "detention." Middle school held their detentions at lunch. The kids would just eat in a teacher's room with supervision. The high school had Saturday school and excessive tardies would go there (and the school could use it as an attendance recovery day to make up the lost revenue of absent/tardy kids.) I believe this is largely due to the high quantity of working families, aftercare consideration and bussing issues. I'd actually be surprised if this school used a traditional detention format. Worth asking about before getting too upset about it.

post #22 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by sesa70 View Post

My daughter is a 1st grader at a local public school. I hate it there, we are going on day 4. So far, it has been ALL rules and regulations, and they are very punitive. 

So, how's it going now, sensa70? Are things getting better?  I have a lot of thoughts on what you posted.

 

One, I do tend to agree with you about children being punished (or rewarded) for things that their parents do or don't do. It really doesn't seem appropriate to me. That said, I really do agree with a PP on you making a huge effort on getting your DC on time to school. It's not good for the school or for you DC to be late. Nevertheless, the school should address parents in regards to lateness. DC went to a school once where the teacher publicly rewarded students if their parent paid PTO dues. My child did not get a reward (candy) even thought I had paid my dues. I went to speak to her about it and she apologized and gave my kid a lolly pop. OMG -- that was SO, so not why I had bothered to speak with her. So much wrong with all of that. I ended up pulling DC out of that school because week after week was stuff like this and I could tell it was DEEPLY ingrained in the school culture.  

 

Recess/detention and punitive discipline -- urgh! I agree with you. It's such a sad state that our schools do this still. Not only for the kids being punished, it isn't a good message for the kids behaving  either. And the worst thing is that it highlights the "trouble makers", making a change in behavior even harder to accomplish for those kids who struggle. And...show me a school where this type of discipline is frequent in K and then gradually declines in necessity by the later years and I'll give some credit to this actually working - but I have yet to see one!  

 

Ok, all of that said -- I also totally agree with the PPs that recommend talking to your teacher and administration. Go into it with an attitude of "Tell me more about this". You never know -- you may get a very acceptable explanation. Good luck and let us know how it goes...

post #23 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by sesa70 View Post

The school wanted us to sign something basically saying we received the rules and agree to them, but I won't sign it, no way am I saying its ok to give my 6 year old detention for being late, something she has absolutely no control over.

You have control over whether your daughter gets to school on time. It is your fault if she is tardy, and your fault if she is punished for it.

post #24 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by choli View Post

You have control over whether your daughter gets to school on time. It is your fault if she is tardy, and your fault if she is punished for it.

Unless her other child's bus is late, as she stated above in the thread there's only a 10-minute window between that bus and drop-off. 

post #25 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by AmandaT View Post

Unless her other child's bus is late, as she stated above in the thread there's only a 10-minute window between that bus and drop-off. 

If the bus is late then all the kids on the bus will also be late, so the teacher will be aware of the issue and no doubt will excuse the tardiness. I doubt very much that this is about the teacher trying to "catch out" children being tardy when the bus is late.

post #26 of 48

I read it as a 10 minute window between the middle child's bus and when they have to LEAVE to drop off the younger child.

 

Which really should be no problem - a bus may be a few minutes late sometimes but if it's regularly more than 10 minutes late, that is a serious issue that needs to be taken up separately with the school/bus charter.

 

I really don't see why a 10 minute window wouldn't be more than enough - unless the OP is not planning the morning so everything is ready by the time the middle child's bus comes. If she is planning it so the bus comes and then they rush back and finish getting ready for the youngest child, that could be a problem - but it's a problem of her making and in her control, not something that she needs to involve the elementary school in.

post #27 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by choli View Post

If the bus is late then all the kids on the bus will also be late, so the teacher will be aware of the issue and no doubt will excuse the tardiness. I doubt very much that this is about the teacher trying to "catch out" children being tardy when the bus is late.

 

 

I think there are 2 different schools involved and the bus isn't going to the kindergarten, so that teacher would have no idea that there was a problem. Maybe I misunderstood, but I think the OP's schedule is as follows: 
 
1. Put her special needs DD on a school bus (which likely goes to a different school - otherwise the OP would take her with the middle DD)
2. 10 minute window to get her middle DD to the local kindergarten (where the DD will be punished for being tardy) 
3. While the OP also deals with a high needs toddler. 
 
That's a stressful morning for any mom.  I don't think the OP can be faulted for not being able to be in 2 places almost simultaneously - getting one DD on a school bus at her home and dropping the other DD at the local kindergarten. That's why I wondered if a neighbouring parent or older student couldn't take the middle daughter to kindergarten for her. 
 
I've had kids who have to ride the bus and their schedules are notoriously unreliable.  If a child at a previous stop is late or they have delays (and depending on what kind of special needs, there could be all sorts of reasons for delay), if the traffic is bad, if the weather slows things down.....it's fairly routine for a 5 or 10 minute delay to occur. I get the stress of trying to organize different pick up/drop offs for 2 kids at the same time. There have been some other helpful suggestions in the thread eg. explain to the school with the tardy policy, ask the bus company for a different pick up time. 
post #28 of 48

I wouldn't write a letter of protest. I would sign the consent letter and return it to the school.

 

As a former teacher I understand the other side of the issue. The school needs to establish order and discipline so things can run smoothly. They need to make sure everyone understands and plays by the rules, and the rules need to be the same for everyone.

That being said, I agree with you. I'm opposed to punishment-and-reward based education. I want ds to learn and behave because he wants to and enjoys it, not out of fear, or to get something in return. But the advantages of public education by far outweigh this disadvantage (at least in my ds's case), so I don't worry too much about it.

 

Also, I find that ds's school and teachers (and most teachers I know) are extremely flexible. We were able to pull him out of school for a month for a trip to Europe (and plan to do it again next year). I didn't agree with the amount of homework ds got, so I approached ds's teacher and let her know he might not finish his homework every week. She was very understanding about it and at one point she even stopped correcting his homework shrug.gif.

 

If your dd likes school, I would be supportive about it. Most teachers are amazing, selfless and giving individuals (that's why I wasn't able to stay in the field; you give so much and get so little in return lol), and IF your dd has problems down the road, being late etc., you can always approach the school and find a solution. It doesn't have to be a harsh punishment like detention.

 

PS: I just read your second post. There is no doubt in my mind that a school would accommodate a family with a SN child, if you discuss with them.
 

post #29 of 48
Thread Starter 

Ollyoxenfree got it right... I have three daughters. Oldest dd is 13, special needs, rides the school bus. Bus comes to the house. Middle dd is in 1st grade at the school down the street, we walk, it takes about 7 minutes.

 

Older dd is in a wheelchair, as are all the other children who ride her bus. She rides with a nurse who drives to my house and parks her car to get on the bus with older dd. All of these factors take longer than your average bus ride. The nurse could be late. The lift could be broken. The child before us could have been running late. There could have been traffic or an accident. All of these things have happened in the past. Any one of those delays would cause middle dd to be late to school through no fault of her own, or my own in all fairness. I don't like it, and its not fair to dd but it is the way it is.

 

Things are not really better. I ended up speaking to the principal. I sent an email to the teacher letting her know I had concers about the discipline policy, specifically relating to detention and she forwarded my info to the principal and said that she does not give detention but knows it is a school wide policy. The principal said there have been very few cases where a 1st grader has gotten detention, but of course my 1st grader will be a 2nd 3rd and so on grader and I still won't like the policy. In other words, she was very nice and basically sugar coated everything but under all the sugar coating the punitive punishment was still there.

 

Today I found out from my daughter that they are not really allowed to talk during their lunch break because the lunch lady wants them to eat quietly. When I asked her what happens if she isn't quiet she said the lunch lady blows her whistle and it hurts her ears. To me this is going too far. They fill a childs day with nothing but following directions and rules, no free choices and then take away the few minutes they have unstructured and insist they be quiet? When do they get to be children? The day is dominated by school rules and they send homework home as well. The school of thought seems to be all rules no fun, and no time to be a kid.

post #30 of 48

Does your DC want to go to school? 

 

ETA: 

 

It has been brought to my attention that this comment seemed like I was questioning whether Sensa70 should send her middle child to school at all. This could not be further from the reason I asked this question. I asked because I wanted to know how Sensa70's child was feeling about the school and I guess that most the 1st graders I know tend to express problems with the school setting by saying, "I don't want to go." Perhaps I've been around too many children lately and am starting to think and talk like them. twins.gif  Anyway, sorry to offend.  Carry on...

post #31 of 48

OK, I see two separate issues here:

 

First is your own transportation problem.  This is the special case for your family.  Some possible solutions:  leave the older daughter with the nurse if there is a bus delay.  Find a neighbor with an elementary school student and walk together, so that your middle DD is comfortable to walk with them in event of a delay.  Find a carpool for her.  Unless the school requires a parent to escort the child into the elementary school building, there are other ways for your middle DD to get to school.  Who employs the nurse?  The nurse should never be late, and document each instance of late arrival with the nurse's employer.  For each tardy, write a note to the school (and keep a copy) delineating the series of events that led to the tardy.

 

If you have tardies stack up and it becomes a problem, I would recommend taking up the issue with the superintendent.  Presumably both kids are in the same district, and transportation constraints of one school are dictating the other. 
 

Second issue is what appears to be draconian discipline policies for an elementary school.  I see you have a baby at home, but is there any time you can go observe what it looks like in practice?  My 6 year old is not a reliable reporter of what happens at school, particularly if he already knows I've got a bee in my bonnet about something. 

post #32 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by sesa70 View Post

Today I found out from my daughter that they are not really allowed to talk during their lunch break because the lunch lady wants them to eat quietly. When I asked her what happens if she isn't quiet she said the lunch lady blows her whistle and it hurts her ears. To me this is going too far. They fill a childs day with nothing but following directions and rules, no free choices and then take away the few minutes they have unstructured and insist they be quiet? When do they get to be children? The day is dominated by school rules and they send homework home as well. The school of thought seems to be all rules no fun, and no time to be a kid.

 

I have to say, the lunch room, if it's got a roof, the noise level is deafening. Kids get louder and louder to the point they are screaming across the table to hear themselves over the others. I totally understand why they ask kids to eat quietly because otherwise, you've got other kids literally sobbing over the volume. Remember, you are getting a 1st grade perspective on this "eating quietly" does not mean they can't talk... it means they need to keep their own volume down. Then they run out to lunch recess and get their energy out.

 

I respect your position but really, a school without rules and regulations is not where I'd want my own kids. School is not home. School is not an enrichment activity where everyone is excited and invested to be there. School is for all flavors of kids... some who love it, some who hate it, some who have excellent self-control, others who do not. They've got a mass of kids to keep safe and that requires rules... it just does. Rules without consequences are useless. I've spent a lot of time in schools... in nice, high scoring, middle class schools and I've been shocked by the extremes in behavior. I have an 11 and 15-year-old and neither have ever gotten in trouble. They will be the first to appreciate the rules though as they've seen how they protect them from kids who are totally out of control.

 

Clearly, you do not want your children in this school and that is fine. Perhaps you should look into a way to homeschool or look into a smaller charter style school. If this is your one option though, I suggest that you accept that rules are part of the package and start focusing on the positive. Your DD's teacher already told you she doesn't give detentions... I suspect a lot of teachers don't unless they are dealing with extreme cases. Are you worried that your child is an extreme case? Doesn't sound like it from your post.

post #33 of 48

I agree with Whatsnextmom's take on it. 

 

I'm not a huge fan of rules and regs, either, but I've been in that lunchroom at our school and even with the kids being told to be quiet it is deafening. Maybe they could do something with more sound absorbing materials on the walls or something, but because of the nature of a school lunchroom we've got tile floors and hard tables and stools and the sound just reverberates around the room. My dd complains about the noise. They have a red/yellow/green system at lunch. When they have a red cup on their table it means be silent. When they have a yellow cup it means they can talk quietly. The other issue with lunch is some kids have trouble focusing on the task at hand — eating — and will "run out of time" to eat lunch. My kids have used that excuse a million times to explain why they are coming home with a full lunch bag. What really happens is they get playing and talking with their  friends and they forget to eat and then it's time to go back to class and they "didn't have enough time". So the quiet in the lunch room is really both to help kids stay focused on eating, and to keep it from becoming deafening. Can you go eat lunch with her and see how it is? I know at our school we're welcome to come anytime (don't even have to schedule it) for lunch. 

 

There are a lot of rules in public school. It's not perfect, but that's the way it is. I don't think you are going to change the culture by yourself. If you want to get involved with the PTA or volunteer (hard to do with a little one, I know) you might be able to more effectively suggest some changes. 

 

Otherwise, look at some other options like private school or a small charter like Whatsnextmom suggested. Or homeschool if that's feasible. I think what you're describing is very typical for public school, with the exception of the detentions. Are there other school options for you? Do you have some choice? I know some districts allow school choice. 

 

If you want to change this school, though, I think the way to do it is through the PTA or volunteering. I don't think meeting with the principal and complaining will elicit much in the way of real change. She probably just wants to hear you out and get you out of her office.

post #34 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by Geofizz View Post

First is your own transportation problem.  This is the special case for your family.  Some possible solutions:  leave the older daughter with the nurse if there is a bus delay.  Find a neighbor with an elementary school student and walk together, so that your middle DD is comfortable to walk with them in event of a delay.  Find a carpool for her.  Unless the school requires a parent to escort the child into the elementary school building, there are other ways for your middle DD to get to school.  Who employs the nurse?  The nurse should never be late, and document each instance of late arrival with the nurse's employer.  For each tardy, write a note to the school (and keep a copy) delineating the series of events that led to the tardy.

 

 

I agree with all this. It is stuff to work out and not going to happen immediately, but it is not fair to make your middle child (and eventually your younger child) routinely late to school because their sister has special needs. My kids do not like going into places late, its embarrassing. I do understand that your situation is complicated.  None the less, the goal should be to figure out how to get your child there on time by thinking outside the box in some of the ways Geofizz has suggested.

post #35 of 48
I always have very mixed feelings about this.

At home, I really work to stay away from punishment. But I send my kids to school and of course they have rules with punishments.

The rules at your school are very strict. I agree with that. Are those classroom rules, or school-wide rules? If they are school-wide, she can't change them and you'd have to talk to the principal. I think a gentle discussion that the rules are stricter than they need to be might help, and I would include a discussion of how in some cases a child is punished for the parents' shortfallings, though it would probably not create any immediate changes. Just if enough parents say something, they'll start to notice. But going in with a demand that they change the rules won't help you at all IMO.

On the other hand . . .

Keeping a classroom under control to a point where learning can take place is different than having your own kids at home. They only have so many options and they are going to have rules, and you won't agree with all of them. Part of sending your kids to school is understanding that you no longer have complete control. So to some extent you have to work with their rules and arrange things so your child doesn't forget things and isn't late.

They are often very strict with younger kids the first couple of weeks so they learn to keep themselves under control. It might ease up. I would keep communication going with your daughter and see how she's handling it. If she isn't handling it, you can talk to the teacher or principal about specific situations she's had trouble with and what problems it has caused, and that's more tangible than "your rules are too strict." And then decide what you'll do if doesn't work out. Will you homeschool? See if you can switch teachers (assuming this is a class issue and not a school issue) or switch schools within your district? If it's just the teacher, you can say that her personality doesn't seem to mesh well with your daughter's (which I think would be accurate if the problem is the teacher is punitive and your daughter takes it to heart very strongly) and maybe the principal can suggest a teacher with a quieter nature.
post #36 of 48

Some schools have early drop off option when you bring the child earlier and leave in the care of people there, it might cost extra.

However if you had this option maybe it would help?

 

As to writing a letter.. I don't think that schools are openminded and waiting for parents to submit their request for change.

They have set system and parents are kept away from how they govern the kids once behind the door. They like it that way.

Have you ever seen this movie aobut schools.. the system .. you might find few things to open your mind

and find a better solution to how you would like to approach your issue this is a documentary on how the schools work, I mean how they

REALLY work: it is called "Waiting for the Superman".. documentary, real thing:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1bzFhrkqE8g

 

I think that deep down inside your gut feelings tells you that you want something else for your child.

Some parents put up with all there is others can't. Those who do, also will tell you you should to

and that all of this is expected and okay. If you feel it is not acceptable and it is not okay,

yet you can't change it then maybe you should follow your gut feeling.

 

Trying to homeschool is a good option to see how you feel about homeschooling. It is also not for everyone,

some people try it and then go back to public with more experience as they know what is the other option -

what it really means.. some kids are good with HSchooling, others not so much, so are the parents.

I would recommend you to try one year of HS and then you would know.

 

Putting your child to Public when you have so much resentment to it and keeping her there regardless

of your resentment is not going to do any good to anyone as your daughter will struggle with

your having problem with the system yourself, your resentment might spill over to you.

 

If you try HS and you put her to PS aftewards you willl feel better knowing that it has to work :)

and it is true to some degree that it is hard to have your own child to obey.. and now imagine

having 500 of them.. you know how kids are.. I suppose that this discipline rules are not only for

your child but to protect her just the same as if all kids would do certain thing the school quickly

would be chaos, I don't like strict rules but considering how kids are spoiled I don't think

that just gently asking them would work a thing.

post #37 of 48

I'll chime in again. Sheepish.gif

 

Regarding the transportation issue -- I do agree that it isn't fair to your DC or the school if she is chronically late but then I thought about your situation, which seems like one where some accommodations can and should be made. I think your child can deal with being late once/month. My own "slow to warm up" DC could deal with that, even. That's 8 times/year, which means that your child could get in trouble for being late less than once/month. If I were you, I would keep track of how many times she is late. If it's a fairly reasonable number considering your situation, I would talk to the school when you get up to 4. If it's like December and you're at 4 and you go in an explain the situation, I would be very surprised if they wouldn't make an exception. 

 

Regarding the discipline issue. I agree that it makes sense to see how it plays out. If this is a big school, they may need to be overly strict and rule focused in the first weeks of school to minimize the distractions for the rest of the year. If that works -- it's a good strategy, imo. It is a red flag that they say they don't need to use some methods on the younger kids. One may ask why it is that kids are becoming less well behaved as they progress through the school. Sigh. 

 

Regarding punishment and kids who are good at behaving the way teachers expect. I've got to say that this is not my view on things -- that this is only a concern for parents of kids who are likely to be punished. I think it's bad for all kids. Behavior in school is a skill that needs to be learned. Just like reading and etc. Kids who struggle with this deserve respect and help. Not embarrassment and punishment, imo. I am often telling my DC that kids who get in trouble a lot are having trouble learning to behave in school - and it's really no different from her having some trouble learning to read. 

 

Regarding public school in general and "the way things are". I can't speak to traditional neighborhood public schools because our DC only went to one for a month and it wasn't a good fit for us (brief explanation in a PP). But, my DC has attended two public charter schools and both are very close to ideal school settings. 

post #38 of 48

I wanted to come back and make sure I was clear that I don't think that just because this sounds fairly typical for public elementary schools (although, again, I don't think there's "detention" in our elementary) that doesn't mean I don't think it can't be better. And I think advocating for better methods is admirable and definitely to be encouraged. I just don't think writing a letter or meeting with the principal is really going to accomplish much. I think you will make a much bigger difference working within the system through the PTA or a volunteer position or being on the SIT (School Improvement Team). I would encourage you to investigate options like those. I think meeting with the principal and writing a letter are great methods for advocating for your individual child and your specific family's situation, but if you're trying to change the whole school culture I think the way to do it is to get other parents on board and work together as a group to make the school a better place and to approach the administration from a "working with" rather than adversarial standpoint.

 

Hope you can find a good solution for your dd and your family.


Edited by beanma - 8/31/12 at 6:02pm
post #39 of 48

I want to remind everyone that it is considered 'bad manners' at the Learning at School board for folks to join in and say that the person should just homeschool or that they are somehow making a bad choice by having their child in school. The LAS board is a place where folks using out of home schools come to get advice and support.

 

The Learning at Home forum is just a hop, skip and a jump away and members can see it. Many have chosen to go over there and air the same questions to get the perspective of homeschoolers on the same problem. There is no problem with cross posting the same question on two different forums to get different ideas.

 

But just as out of home schoolers don't go to LAH&B to advocate public schooling, we humbly request that homeschoolers do not offer this as the solution for every child that might not be having an easy time in school.

 

Thanks a bunch!!
 

post #40 of 48

OP i think you really need to look at public schools realistically. were you not educated in a public school (i am not being snarky here, just really wondering). your school is not doing anything out of the ordinary. the rules you have are kinda similar what our schools in the 3 districts in my city have. slightly different but normal.

 

if you have 5 tardies then detention. what is detention? staying in after lunch instead of going to play? for first grade and older i dont find that unreasonable at all. when you brought your issue to the principal, she sugar coated the rules. honestly i think it was really stretching it hoping the school would let your dd be late quite often. if she lets you then what about other families. once in a while is ok. but regular accomodation is not reasonable at all. 

 

you have to figure out a way to get your kids to school on time. there have been times when i have had to drop dd off when the playground opened half an hour before school starts. otherwise if there is a daycare at school, you might have to enroll your child there.  right now our district has pulled all buses except for special needs. this has caused so much hardship on many parents. but they ARE still getting their kids to school by any means possible. 

 

miss recess? normal, normal, normal. doesnt mean they miss ALL recess. but missing a few here or there - is that really that big a deal? most teachers know which kids NEED the recess (most often they ARE the ones who are the 'troublemakers' and most teachers figure out a way of keeping them in but doing physical things inside so that the kids get some energy out). 

 

most schools will not allow parents to bring things into school the child forgot. that means you drop it off at the office and someone has to go over and take it to the teacher. disruption.

 

the whole school system is overworked and understaffed. teachers and pricipals are trying really hard to keep it fair for all kids. i think you are being a little too demanding over discipline issue. esp. when it is the normal or close to it. in our school after enough warnings you get suspension. 

 

this is the first week of class. it is normal for the teacher to send home expectations of the kids and parents. they also go over expectations in class with the kids. 

 

how is your dd doing with school. how is she reacting. 

 

to be v. gentle mama you need to 'know' what school is all about. on paper the discipline looks terrible. but if you talk to other parents really it isnt as bad as it sounds. 

 

if there is one group of children who are being disruptive and the class gets punished for it, after a few times, the kids themselves tell the disruptive group to behave themselves.

 

dd is going into 5th grade. its those v. rules - that have bonded the class together. they no longer miss recess (that kinda stopped in 3rd grade), because they watch out for their classmates and help those who need help. 

 

what makes or breaks a class are the teachers. you need to get to know 

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