Daycare issues with 3 year old class--anyone been there, done that? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 21 Old 05-07-2008, 08:35 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I am having issues with my daycare, which everyone here knows I have always loved. I am contemplating leaving, and it's making me really panicky inside.

DD has been going there since she was 3 months old. They are great, it's a center, the core staff has been there forever and then they have a lot of students from the local college who "turn over" pretty regularly but that hasn't been a problem. DD has always had her needs met, been treated lovingly, and basically had a blast there.

This year, DD is in the 3 year old class. There are 12 kids, and 2 teachers. 12 is the max, they're not usually all there all the time. But that's a lot of 3 year olds to supervise. Her teachers are nice, and fun, and DD loves them. They do preschool activities from 9-11:30, lunch, then a nap until 1:30 or 2. Then they play and I usually pick her up between 3 and 4.

I like her teachers, but I don't think there's enough supervision, and I am worried that the kids are fighting like little gladiators all day long. DD has told me several times that xyz hit her or scratched her. I went to the administrator and voiced my concern, and she spoke with the teacher and talked to the whole class about how to treat your friends. They're really nice and responsive, but the other day at drop off 2 little girls got into a tussle over a puzzle that ended up with them literally rolling around fighting on the floor. I broke it up, since I was right there, Teacher 2 came running over and said something to the effect of "There's a lot of that going on." in a frustrated voice.

I don't want a lot of that going on. I don't want my little girl fighting, EVER. I am feeling like I don't have any choice but to pull her out, and I am scared because they offer flexibility of hours that I really need. I am afraid of having an in-home care provider, that they will be flaky.

I think ideally, in the Fall I will send her to a regular pre-school for 3 hours in the morning and then try to get a mothers helper for the afternoon to take her to the park twice a week so I can do conf calls and such.

But I don't know if I should pull her out right away, and get a nanny for the summer? I answered some posts on Craig's List yesterday for that. I think she'll miss school, and her friends, all of the good parts. She is really social, and she loves to play. I could just cut her hours there down to 2 or 3 mornings a week. But, that doesn't mean she's not going to get hit during those hours.

I don't know what to do. I think I am really panicked because these people have been a big part of my life for the last 3 years, and I truly think they are great. But now it doesn't seem so great for us anymore, so I probably do need to make a change.
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#2 of 21 Old 05-07-2008, 09:30 AM
 
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I think the class sounds great - I really wouldn't have a problem with 2 on 12. I think your ideal of never wanting your 3 year old to fight EVER is very unrealistic. Kids fight. Ask any mom of multiples. As long as the admin is taking it seriously, the teachers are responding, and the children are not left to fight it out while the teachers watch, I'm not sure what else you can ask for.

This isn't a bullying situation, or a neglect situation. It's just kids fighting because they don't know how to share perfectly yet.

I would teach my child some conflict-avoidance strategies (walk away fast, run to a teacher, play with the nicer kids, etc.) but I wouldn't isolate her from her peers just so she will not have to experience agression.

I know this response isn't very supportive, and I hope I didn't offend you, but I really wouldn't stress out so much over something that is probably just a phase.

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#3 of 21 Old 05-07-2008, 09:44 AM
 
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Just wanted to say that 2 on 12 is actually a GREAT ratio. In my state the max provider to chid ratio for 3 year olds is 1 on 12.

As a former daycare "teacher" I can attest that kids at that age will fight because they don't know how to express all of their feelings well yet, especially with peers. I agree with the pp that as long as the teachers are attempting to prevent it as much as possible and are stepping in ASAP when a fight does happen, then there is not much else that can be done.

I honestly wouldn't pull her out unless she asks to leave. I would talk to her at home about how to share and roll play good ways to "use her words" with her peers to help prevent fights.
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#4 of 21 Old 05-07-2008, 09:51 AM
 
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You have it made momma! Don't take your child out of her normalcy because of your apprehension. I worked at a daycare center for 5 years and am now a teacher...what you are describing is NORMAL! Obviously you do not want your child involved, but that is your responsibility to teach her then that fighting is NOT allowed...she will take that into the daycare situations...I promise!

2 to 12 is AWESOME!!!! When I taught in a daycare it was 1 to 10...so there were often 20 kids and two teachers. There is going to be fighting wherever you put your child with other kids. When she goes to preschool, I promise there will be just as much fighting and probably more kids per teacher.

I really, really think you better think very carefully...I know it's hard as mothers we want to protect our child from everything, but I think it would hurt her more to pull her out of a place she has been for 3 years.
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#5 of 21 Old 05-07-2008, 09:55 AM
 
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I only have one child so my experience is limited but I would give it some time.

My daycare sounds very much like yours (long-term staff, great past experience, etc.) and I see tussles once in a while. Once, my son was bitten and the staff explained why kids do it and how they transition out of that stage.

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#6 of 21 Old 05-07-2008, 10:47 AM - Thread Starter
 
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No offense. I do think my daycare is awesome, and they are pretty much a dream in how willing they are to work with me on anything. I don't take them for granted, and when I was working full-time out of the home they were the only support my husband and I had.

Your responses make me lean towards cutting her hours this summer instead of eliminating completely, and then checking out regular pre-schools for Fall.

One of the reasons I am worried is that we were away over the weekend, with two sets of friends who's LO's are home or in very limited preschool situations and DD seemed so much more aggressive and grown up than either child (one wa 6 months younger, one was 6 months older). She didn't do anything age-inappropriate but she was definitely much less passive than the other two, and it made me wonder if it is because she is too used to duking it out every time she wants a toy, etc, at daycare. Or it could just be 3. She just turned 3 two weeks ago and crazily, her behavior became 3 times as combative as it used to be.

I am just looking for answers. I used to feel that all the socialization there was a great thing--now I am wondering if she is getting too much interaction, and without the kind of guidance that she needs as she learns how to play with others.

My head always spins when people make the comment about not wanting "daycare raising their children"--seriously, I would love daycare to be more proactive in this case than I am seeing. I guess that is something to discuss with the teacher/directors.
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#7 of 21 Old 05-07-2008, 11:27 AM
 
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Too much interaction? I don't think you need to worry about that unless you feel it's negative interaction. Are you sure your daughter was being aggressive and not assertive? I definitely think that part of it is the age, and part of it is just learning how to meet your needs even when others are competing for the same things. It's unrealistic to expect a 3yo to share well or be very empathetic to other children at this age. As she approaches 4, this will naturally develop, but only if she gets the chance with other children. How do you learn to share if there's no one to share with?

I'll be the first to admit that DD has picked up some bad habits at school, but every single one of them was quickly checked and abandoned. She has also picked up a lot of good habits at school as well, so sometimes you have to work through some negatives to reap all the positive benefits.

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#8 of 21 Old 05-07-2008, 11:52 AM
 
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Originally Posted by madskye View Post
I used to feel that all the socialization there was a great thing--now I am wondering if she is getting too much interaction, and without the kind of guidance that she needs as she learns how to play with others.

My head always spins when people make the comment about not wanting "daycare raising their children"--seriously, I would love daycare to be more proactive in this case than I am seeing. I guess that is something to discuss with the teacher/directors.
Mama, something to consider is that your daughter really needs to learn to handle these situations on here own. Of course and adult needs to remind the little ones about and model appropriate behavior but if they step in too much it creates teenagers and adults who can't handle life situations.

I taught HS Spanish for two years before my DS was born and you would be amazed at the number of kids who had their parents deal with everything and couldn't appropriately interact with their peers. I think we as a society overprotect our kids right now to a point where it debilitates them later in life.

While I'm not advocating for a Lord of the Flies type environment or that your daughter be some preschooler's punching bag, I do feel that in situations like these the kids need to learn to work it out on their own with minimal adult intervention.
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#9 of 21 Old 05-07-2008, 12:07 PM
 
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I agree with the previous posters. Kids are physical... they hug and hit and hold hands and bite and tumble around a lot! And the dynamics of a classroom will change from year to year as the kids mature and new kids come and old ones leave, so even if there seems to be an aggressive bunch right now, I wouldn't assume that it will be the same in a year, let alone a month.
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#10 of 21 Old 05-07-2008, 12:08 PM
 
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DD seemed so much more aggressive and grown up than either child (one wa 6 months younger, one was 6 months older). She didn't do anything age-inappropriate but she was definitely much less passive than the other two,
I don't understand exactly why this is a problem, but let me share my viewpoint. I want my children, particularly my daughter, to be competitive. I want them to be assertive (and the line between assertive and aggressive is thin). My son used to be a little passive with other kids, and I hated it. I would talk to him about standing up for himself. So to me there's really no problem.

My son (who turned 3 in January) went through a phase last fall with the fighting and pushing at school. It went away in about a month. We had to work with him on using words to say what he needs/wants, rather than pushing. Once his language skills improved, the fighting stopped. I think it's mostly normal, and if the teachers are dealing with it, then that's fine. Of course, at some point for me, they have to do more than say "this is how we treat our friends." My dear son would happily pipe us with "but Bob's not my friend." Some kids do need something firmer than that, so I hope they're willing to move beyond generalities in discussing polite behavior.

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#11 of 21 Old 05-07-2008, 12:45 PM
 
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Originally Posted by madskye View Post
One of the reasons I am worried is that we were away over the weekend, with two sets of friends who's LO's are home or in very limited preschool situations and DD seemed so much more aggressive and grown up than either child (one wa 6 months younger, one was 6 months older). She didn't do anything age-inappropriate but she was definitely much less passive than the other two, and it made me wonder if it is because she is too used to duking it out every time she wants a toy, etc, at daycare. Or it could just be 3. She just turned 3 two weeks ago and crazily, her behavior became 3 times as combative as it used to be.
Or maybe she's blessed with an assertive personality. My dd is 3 and a bit--3.5 in June. She's in a mixed-age home-based daycare, with a schedule (at least for the older ones) that sounds pretty close to what you have. About the same total numbers, too, though probably half are younger than she is. They have conflicts. Dcp is very actively teaching them how to behave appropriately, but I don't expect her (or her employees) to catch every instance before it escalates.

I worry a lot more about hurting with words. That's starting ("mama, E said....")--and has to be dealt with carefully. And learning the concept of kindness with words is a harder, bigger task than learning not to hit. Dcp also works on that, fwiw.

We talk about appropriate behavior at home. I also listen a lot. There have been amazing bursts of language/social development/emotional development in the last four months. Dd is now able to talk to me about what happens in her day, though not always with a perfect narrative flow. : And when she does, I try to hear her out completely before jumping in with any parental words of admonishment (or "widsom"), because she's beginning to be able to process the whole thing herself. If I wait, she can tell me how she feels about it, or what the results were, or what the results should have been.

And I want to lay the groundwork for her teen years, when it will be really important for her to know she can talk to me.

Mom of two girls.
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#12 of 21 Old 05-07-2008, 02:19 PM
 
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One of the reasons I am worried is that we were away over the weekend, with two sets of friends who's LO's are home or in very limited preschool situations and DD seemed so much more aggressive and grown up than either child (one wa 6 months younger, one was 6 months older).
Could it be that your friend's children are just not a socialized as your dd?

Could it be that your 3 year old is on a different level than the older and younger friends? We have noticed huge (good) difference in our son from 2 to 2.5 years old.


I agree with the other posters in the sense that assertive (and maturity) is a good thing, especially for a female. Learning at a young age to take care of herself (and be ahead of the pack) will serve her very well later in life.

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#13 of 21 Old 05-07-2008, 03:31 PM
 
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Originally Posted by madskye View Post
One of the reasons I am worried is that we were away over the weekend, with two sets of friends who's LO's are home or in very limited preschool situations and DD seemed so much more aggressive and grown up than either child (one wa 6 months younger, one was 6 months older). She didn't do anything age-inappropriate but she was definitely much less passive than the other two, and it made me wonder if it is because she is too used to duking it out every time she wants a toy, etc, at daycare. Or it could just be 3.
I've got to agree with the others that this is probably due more to personality than being in daycare. Our ds (now 7) has always been passive in groups, and he was in daycare from 2 1/2 on. Our dd (now nearly 4, in daycare since 16 months), isn't. But she's never been. Both of my kids are more active than some -- again that's temperament, not daycare. Ds is quieter than average, dd is more talkative than average. Again, temperament.


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She just turned 3 two weeks ago and crazily, her behavior became 3 times as combative as it used to be.
Go to the "Childhood Years" forum or "Gentle Discipline" and search for "3 year old" and you'll find a SLEW of threads on 3 yos. 3 is a tough year. They're opinionated, want to control not only themselves but everyone around them, and yet generally unable to understand another's point of view.

I would base my decision on what works best for my family, but it sounds like you've got a great daycare (12 kids max in a classroom is great!) and I wouldn't stop it with the expectation that my dd was going to change somehow.

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#14 of 21 Old 05-07-2008, 03:42 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Mama, something to consider is that your daughter really needs to learn to handle these situations on here own. Of course and adult needs to remind the little ones about and model appropriate behavior but if they step in too much it creates teenagers and adults who can't handle life situations.

I taught HS Spanish for two years before my DS was born and you would be amazed at the number of kids who had their parents deal with everything and couldn't appropriately interact with their peers. I think we as a society overprotect our kids right now to a point where it debilitates them later in life.

While I'm not advocating for a Lord of the Flies type environment or that your daughter be some preschooler's punching bag, I do feel that in situations like these the kids need to learn to work it out on their own with minimal adult intervention.

I think that is my fear--that her day is More "Lord of the Flies" than "Barney" and I agree that she needs to learn to handle these things on her own...but she's only 3. And just 3, at that. It hurts me to think about anyone hitting her or her hitting another child. Ugh.

Also, we are getting into more of the social dynamics--she has a little "frenemy" in the class, and the "you can't play" "I don't like you" stuff is starting and that is tough to deal with for both her and for myself.

I think she is pretty well socialized, and I do think assertive is a better word than "aggressive"--I don't think any of her behavior last weekend was age-inappropriate. She also did a lot of great things--she's friendly and personable to the adults, she's a good helper, she led most of the play with the other children ("You get on my boat! Here's your paddle!!!" and my favorite "Run, monkeys, run!") so she's a fun one. I just want to make sure that she turns out ok and that I'm not leaving her in a situation that is too much for her to handle at 3.

Thanks for all the responses so far--they have helped a lot to let me see what's developmental and what's emotional and what's universal.
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#15 of 21 Old 05-07-2008, 06:21 PM
 
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Also, we are getting into more of the social dynamics--she has a little "frenemy" in the class, and the "you can't play" "I don't like you" stuff is starting and that is tough to deal with for both her and for myself.
"Frenemy"---I hadn't heard that word before, and it's such a perfect way of describing the dynamic with some of the kids. Dd has one; some days, this girl is the best thing ever, but on other days....boy, she knows how to push dd's buttons.

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#16 of 21 Old 05-07-2008, 11:00 PM
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My older son was in a great Reggio daycare that we absolutely loved, but we had pretty much the same experience when he was 3 1/2. The kids moved up to the new class in June and by August, it was totally "Lord of the Flies." The lack of close supervision bothered me because I felt like it was getting dangerous. My husband walked in one morning and found one of M's classmates actually strangling another kid and my husband had to break them up. The girls remained pretty civilized, but the boys were charged up on superhero imaginations and things were getting really rough. I wasn't AS frustrated with the staff as I was with some of the other parents. We were all on an email listserv and as the summer progressed, it was very clear that some of the parents were very interested in helping their kids with social skills, using their words, not hitting, etc., but a few just wanted the daycare to deal with it. It was very frustrating.

Fortunately, we already had plans to withdraw our son from daycare when our second baby came. We were able to put him in a preschool a few mornings a week because I started working from home and he really enjoyed it. It was an easy transition and he still loves it. Preschool is a little more structured (less free range time) and we haven't had any problems with fighting.
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#17 of 21 Old 05-08-2008, 10:38 AM
 
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I guess it would depend to me on how your day care is handling the situation, because yes, 3 year olds will act this way. I would want to see some effective and consistent intervention, and some work with the children to model and practice effective ways of resolving conflict. This would be more than teachers saying, "Don't do that!" or "Stop!"

I feel very fortunate that our center teaches a 6 step non-violent conflict resolution method with the children and is very consistent about implementing it. So conflicts happen, but the children are gaining the tools to respond assertively and to problem-solve disagreements. In fact, the children often help each other resolve conflicts so it's not all up to the teachers.
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#18 of 21 Old 05-08-2008, 11:29 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I guess it would depend to me on how your day care is handling the situation, because yes, 3 year olds will act this way. I would want to see some effective and consistent intervention, and some work with the children to model and practice effective ways of resolving conflict. This would be more than teachers saying, "Don't do that!" or "Stop!"

I feel very fortunate that our center teaches a 6 step non-violent conflict resolution method with the children and is very consistent about implementing it. So conflicts happen, but the children are gaining the tools to respond assertively and to problem-solve disagreements. In fact, the children often help each other resolve conflicts so it's not all up to the teachers.

Do you have any info on the method? I would forward it to my school, if you can share.
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#19 of 21 Old 05-08-2008, 11:34 AM
 
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Here it is:

http://www.kidsandconflict.com/

They have a whole training program available. My impression is that it really has to be bought into and become part of the whole culture of a center. All of the teachers have to be doing it. I can say that it really works, even with very young children. We do this at home to resolve conflict as well, and also between my daughter and friends that don't attend her day care.
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#20 of 21 Old 05-08-2008, 05:43 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks!

I went in yesterday afternoon and spoke to the two teachers and the two administrators. Teachers were reassuring--but I do get the vibe that one is kind "checked out" most of the time. The two women who are the administrators are great, and gave me a lot of good info about DD's day. I was happy to hear that they do regular evaluations of the room--they said they observe for the day and look for things like who is outgrowing the room based on their abilities, are there enough toys in the home living section or is a lack of multiple toys creating conflicts, how the teacher handles conflicts, etc. Then they promised me that they'd work with her teacher to include some more learning segments about playing nicely, treating friends nicely, sharing, etc. They said they try to reinforce the concepts in a fun way, with books and stories and activities.

When I picked DD up yesterday she literally got in the car and said "I had a great day!" which made me feel better, too.

All that said, I am going to honor my intuition that she might be getting more interaction than she needs, and that she needs more quality supervision. I'm going to check out some of the local preschools for Fall and see if any of them look better and like something she would enjoy and I am going to transition her to shorter days at her current daycare this summer in the meantime. Come Sept she will transition into another classrooom anyway, and that is always an adjustment, too, so that is probably a better time to make a move than now.

Thanks for all the kind words and good advice. I am definitely going to pass on the program above to the school.
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#21 of 21 Old 05-09-2008, 11:46 PM
 
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FWIW, we go to a once-a-week playgroup that has a lot of kids whose mothers SAHM or WAHM and sometimes a couple of the 2 or 3-yo kids are, in fact, rolling on the floor both trying to tug a toy away from the other. It's perfectly normal and doesn't seem to have anything to do with the socialization, preschool or lack thereof. It seems to have more to do with personalities and developmental stages, as a PP noted.

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