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Troubled by Discipline at EI Preschool

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
Hi,
I'm totally new here. I have twins with sensory issues who are attending a premier pediatric rehab facility in Chicago through EI. The "preschool" meets 3 hours 3x/week with 1 hour of OT, an hour of ST, and an hour at the playgroup (PT). About 10 kids are in the class. The school started last week.

We arrived a few minutes late, with preparations for circle time beginning. One child was crying with her legs draped, perhaps inappropriately, over the side of her chair. A therapist went up to her, with no acknowledgment of the child's tears, let alone effort to comfort her, firmly told her that she needed to put her feet on the floor for circle time. The little girl ignored her. The therapist quickly counted, in a firm voice, "That is 1, 2, and 3" then whisked her away for a time out. She made no other effort to get the little girl to put her feet down.

I then saw this same therapist go up to a little girl who uses a walker. She brusquely told the little girl to sit in the circle. When the little girl didn't quickly do so, without making any other efforts to get the girl in teh circle, she said, "Okay, I'll carry you" and carried this child to the circle.

I WAS APPALLED!!!!! The head teacher was out that day. I pulled the co-teacher aside and told her that my children respond very well to being given choices, such as "would you like to put your feet down by yourself or would you like me to help you put your feet on the floor." I told her by daughter with emotional modulation issues becomes very disorganized and needs help organizing. I told her she relies on others at that point to organize her and that time outs leave her feeling very abandoned at a time she desperately needs someone to organize her.

I left, feeling very troubled and upset. This facility is considered the premier pediatric rehab facility in Chicago. They are supposed to be so great. Yet, I wondered if I was being neglectful to leave my children there. I immediately called the office manager and told her I was troubled by how I saw discipline handled and needed to observe the class. She put me through to the voicemail of the teacher who in charge, who won't be back until Monday. I repeated my concern and said I wanted to omit addressing their discipline of other children and focus on discipline of my children. Upon my return, I asked if my children had cooperated and received any timeouts. (No.) I also told the co-teacher that I had left a voicemail to speak with the head teacher about good ways to discipline my children, so they "dont' have to reinvent the wheel on effective discipline strategies for my children."

It seems the attitude and maltreatment was primarily this one speech therapist.

Any suggestions for how to diplomatically and effectively approach this?

Thank you!

Cindy
post #2 of 9
Goodness...I completely understand your concern. Is it possible for you to observe class at different times (drop off, pick up, middle, etc) so you can determine for yourself if this is a pattern? I suppose it could be possible that the therapist was having an off day herself (we all have them) although that doesn't excuse her behavior. I'm glad you called and made your concerns known right away. How old are your daughters? Can they articulate to you what goes on during school?
post #3 of 9
The 123 counting sounds like 123 Magic, which I've used for a few years now with my oldest. It works well for nt kids, but not at all for my autie who still can't grasp behavior/consequence. But in a larger group setting, the instructors aren't going to have the time that we have at home with our children. They're not always going to be able to give them those 5 minutes of transition help that we can. So instead of offering a choice and then allowing the student 5 minutes to decide, they need the child to move quickly and smoothly to the next activity, with minimum disruption. It's just a function of the group setting. So if offering choices doesn't work, it's time for the teacher to move on to the next option, which might be to gently move the child physically into position, for example.
post #4 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by bdavis337 View Post
The 123 counting sounds like 123 Magic, which I've used for a few years now with my oldest. It works well for nt kids, but not at all for my autie who still can't grasp behavior/consequence. But in a larger group setting, the instructors aren't going to have the time that we have at home with our children. They're not always going to be able to give them those 5 minutes of transition help that we can. So instead of offering a choice and then allowing the student 5 minutes to decide, they need the child to move quickly and smoothly to the next activity, with minimum disruption. It's just a function of the group setting. So if offering choices doesn't work, it's time for the teacher to move on to the next option, which might be to gently move the child physically into position, for example.

I don't really agree with this though. Much of what preschool is is teaching children how top behave in a future classroom setting. Heck that is what much of my ds' kindergarten was. Doing the activity for them is certainly not teaching them. Nevermind the disrespect shown for them here.
post #5 of 9
I would be really dismayed by what you saw, too. DD has been in EI and they would NEVER treat a child like that. The only time timeouts would be used is if a child is aggressive or out of control - not as punishment for not complying quickly enough. That's just insane.

I think you are handling it perfectly if you want to have her go there, but I would be hesitant to send my child there because 1. I don't trust that they would remember to discipline my child as agreed every time - at some point they are going to forget and 2. I wouldn't want DD to witness other children being treated that way. It would make her very fearful and confused.
post #6 of 9
what if the girl that the OP saw being "timed out" has major behavioral issues, and the time-outs are part of her behavioral plan? She can't know that just by watching for 2 minutes.

I posted in haste last night, and still don't have much time to address it this morning. It's just never possible to know what's really going on without observing for longer periods of time, and that's what I would want to do.

And as for how a child learns what to do, I understand your point. My son still needs to be lead, directed physically or hand -over-handed through most transition activities. He's capable of responding on his own given certain parameters, but those parameters don't usually exist in a group setting - quiet, calm, 1 soft voice - so he needs other techniques. If he refuses or becomes incapable of calming himself, he's got to be led or otherwise moved into position.

Finally, it really is not possible to handle every child in a group setting as they're handled at home. And in all honesty, do you really want that? If you're sending your kids to preschool you're most likely considering sending them to public school later on as well, and in that environment they'll almost never be managed like you manage them at home.
post #7 of 9
Thread Starter 
Thank you so much for your reactions and insight.

My little ones are pretty verbal, but I have no confidence that (1) they would communicate problems and/or (2) that I would get sufficient reliable information.

I don't think what the therapist was doing was Magic 123 (or at least properly) because she didn't count slowly to give the child time to change her behavior and she didn't use a calm, neutral voice.

I understand that time outs are generally to be reserved for major offenses, like biting and hitting, not a crying child's failure to sit upright quickly.

I'm going to visit and go over acceptable discipline for my children. I'm also going to tell them that I need to be told if my children are given a time out and why each time. I plan on asking at pick up. But it does trouble me if they are witnessing other children being treated harshly if not cruelly. I may just be staying in the room with them during the program. I'm also going to call a social worker from Early Intervention and try to get her assistance on this.

I may very well just take them out of the program. I'm a single mom with no family in the area, so selfishly, I could really use the break. But of course, I couldn't leave them there unless I was comfortable they were being well-treated.

Thank you so much again. I appreciate your comments and viewpoints.

Purple Cat
post #8 of 9
That would have bothered me and your feelings are valid.

I personally won't put my child in school, BUT if I did, and I had an issue I would address it.

As far as "managing" children, I don't think that is a great way of dealing with children, or people for that matter. Just because you have a different way of disciplining your children at home than a teacher does at school does not mean you have to agree, and most of all IT IS YOUR CHILD and if you don't like what they are doing, then you have all the right in the world to say something!

I really hope you say something. Who cares if she was just having a bad day, she is dealing with children and if she can't handle circle time, then maybe she should be doing something else.

My DD has a walker and is non verbal and there is no way in hell she is going to school. I don't trust the public school system in any way.
post #9 of 9
Thread Starter 
I spoke with the EI "Preschool Director." She rushed to tell me that they will NOT use time outs with my children. She rushed to tell me that parents have asked them to use time outs because they use time outs at home. She asked me what discipline methods I suggested. I explained my daughter's need for help organizing herself and how abandoning and disorganizing time out would be. She seemed to "get it." I think it'll be okay, though I'm obviously going to watch closely. My sense is that a parent having complained about discipline being too harsh is having reverberations. They are renown in Chicago and pride themselves on their excellence. I think they will be watching themselves.

Thank you all for your input. I appreciated the validation and the perspectives.

Purple Cat
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