Chronically dirty kids in school - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 13 Old 11-24-2013, 01:25 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Did anyone see this in the news?  A 4K teacher sent a letter to all her students about some of them being dirty and smelly all the time.  I can't say I blame the teacher much, but maybe she should have said something to the school social worker or nurse, rather than sending a letter home to everyone.  I think that if a child is chronically dirty, it is a situation that needs to be looked into.  When I was little, I was abused and neglected--sent to school with matted hair and wearing the same clothes for a week.  My parents were mentally ill, and weren't capable of taking care of me.  But no one did anything.  There was also a girl with very bad BO in my school, and no one would play with her.  Turns out her parents were hoarders, and their house was dilapidated and had cats and dogs that pooped and peed all over the house.  I know this because she became my friend and I had been to her house. 

 

If a kid is that dirty or smelly all the time, something is wrong.  It's not just a kid being dirty, it's a symptom of a much bigger problem. 


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#2 of 13 Old 11-24-2013, 02:33 PM
 
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I didn't see this story - but I agree with you. Parents that are capable of caring properly for their children do not send them to school dirty and in that kind of condition every day. It means something is wrong and needs to be looked into properly. It likely would've been less embarrassing to the children in question as well if she had dealt with it on a more one-on-one basis. 

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#3 of 13 Old 11-24-2013, 04:09 PM
 
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Haven't seen the story either... 

 

However there's a very good chance that the teacher did alert the proper channels and as a beginning step also sent out a "general" letter to everyone. This way they can open the lines of communication without singling any one person out. It also starts the documentation process of dealing with it. 

Starting with a general letter/warning/message/address/reminder to everyone before singling out the one or two people is a common tactic used as a first step. I used to use it in the all age classes I used to teach. That way I wouldn't have to single out one person for doing something wrong. If it continued then I would quietly go over and correct but usually the gentle everyone reminder worked the best and would help everyone in the end :) 

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#4 of 13 Old 11-24-2013, 05:05 PM
 
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This makes me a little upset because I feel like that letter could have been written to me depending on what your standards are for a "clean" child. Both of my boys had afternoon kindergarten and we would get up in the morning, wash up, dress in clean clothes, then go to the playground, run errands, eat lunch, etc. and by the time I would take them to school in the afternoon, they would have some playground dirt, possibly a small stain from lunch, and if it was hot out, a little sweaty. They definitely didn't look fresh and shiny- but we were just having fun and living life, not wallowing in filth. These are preschoolers we're talking about- they stay clean for about 5 seconds. I'm concerned that teacher possibly has unrealistic expectations- what does she mean by dirty and smelly? Maybe she's talking about my kids, who DO bath nightly and start the day with clean clothes, but by the time they get to school, have a dirt stain on their knee and a little dried jelly on the corner of their mouth.
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#5 of 13 Old 11-24-2013, 05:23 PM
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Originally Posted by momof3tobe View Post

This makes me a little upset because I feel like that letter could have been written to me depending on what your standards are for a "clean" child. Both of my boys had afternoon kindergarten and we would get up in the morning, wash up, dress in clean clothes, then go to the playground, run errands, eat lunch, etc. and by the time I would take them to school in the afternoon, they would have some playground dirt, possibly a small stain from lunch, and if it was hot out, a little sweaty. They definitely didn't look fresh and shiny- but we were just having fun and living life, not wallowing in filth. These are preschoolers we're talking about- they stay clean for about 5 seconds. I'm concerned that teacher possibly has unrealistic expectations- what does she mean by dirty and smelly? Maybe she's talking about my kids, who DO bath nightly and start the day with clean clothes, but by the time they get to school, have a dirt stain on their knee and a little dried jelly on the corner of their mouth.

This is different!  I now homeschool, but I used to volunteer in the classroom a lot.  Kindy and 1st graders (even 2nd sometimes) rarely look "fresh".  They play hard, and are expected to be a bit dirtier than the rest.  However, the children that are noticably smelly (at this age) usually haven't been bathed in a very long time.  My youngest hates baths, she is required to take them, but not daily.  She was also very independent early on--dressing herself (and proud of it).  She often looked "odd" at school, but I really don't think anyone thought that she wasn't cared for.  Once I mentioned to her teacher that she dressed herself, and the teacher seemed to think it funny that I would need to say so.  

 

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#6 of 13 Old 11-24-2013, 05:53 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by momof3tobe View Post

This makes me a little upset because I feel like that letter could have been written to me depending on what your standards are for a "clean" child..

We don't know what standards the teacher was going by, but one of the news articles I read said she was a teacher for 30 years.  I would think with that much experience, someone could tell if a child was abnormally filthy.  I don't think the intent was to make average people panic.  There's a difference between a well-groomed child getting dirty in one day and a kid with matted hair wearing the same clothes for weeks and has a permanent stink. 

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#7 of 13 Old 11-25-2013, 06:52 PM
 
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I think a general letter is a good start. It is easy to tell the kids who are messy and skipped a shower from children whose hygiene is chronically neglected so I wouldn't worry about normal kid dirt and grime. I would much rather receive a general reminder than a call from a nurse or visit from cps any day.
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#8 of 13 Old 11-25-2013, 10:56 PM
 
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I think it was a good first step for the same reasons you all cite, but you should read the letter. It is pretty rude and condescending. She could have been more professional in her choice of language. That might be why she is facing disciplinary action from administrators. 

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#9 of 13 Old 11-26-2013, 03:52 AM
 
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Here is a link
http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/4338734

I know someone like this. Even clean clothes smell like garbage/dog/rotting food when their house is bad. It is bad enough it is offensive from 10 feet away. It is an extreme situation no normal person would be in though.
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#10 of 13 Old 11-26-2013, 05:53 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by momof3tobe View Post

This makes me a little upset because I feel like that letter could have been written to me depending on what your standards are for a "clean" child. Both of my boys had afternoon kindergarten and we would get up in the morning, wash up, dress in clean clothes, then go to the playground, run errands, eat lunch, etc. and by the time I would take them to school in the afternoon, they would have some playground dirt, possibly a small stain from lunch, and if it was hot out, a little sweaty. They definitely didn't look fresh and shiny- but we were just having fun and living life, not wallowing in filth. These are preschoolers we're talking about- they stay clean for about 5 seconds. I'm concerned that teacher possibly has unrealistic expectations- what does she mean by dirty and smelly? Maybe she's talking about my kids, who DO bath nightly and start the day with clean clothes, but by the time they get to school, have a dirt stain on their knee and a little dried jelly on the corner of their mouth.

This is totally different. Well by my standards. They look like kids! But when they constantly smell like pee is when I would be worried. (my son has a friend who more then half of the time smells like pee when he comes over)


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#11 of 13 Old 11-27-2013, 07:25 AM
 
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If it was as bad as she implied, she should have spoken to the parents directly.   Some kids always wear new unstained machine washed clothes, and others might wear hand me downs, with a stain or two. Thats not worth mentioning, and not a health hazard, and wouldnt deter a sane person from touching them. However, if there was a constant smell (not a one off occasion), then seriously, talk to the parents about it. Some people have a more sensitive sense of smell than others. Or, maybe theres something else going on. Making a parent sign a silly note is condescending, and doesnt address the issue.

 

Parents already know children need to  be taken care of, they dont need a preschool teacher to remind them.

Also dress standards are a different issue to hygeine. 

 

However, it seems we will never really know the facts of the case.

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#12 of 13 Old 11-27-2013, 10:46 AM
 
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It was a public school. She should have involved the school nurse and counselor.
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#13 of 13 Old 11-29-2013, 08:26 AM
 
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I feel badly for those littles :( Last year, my 4th grade DD had a very good friend who was neglected. She had a chronic lice infestation for *2* years- the parents yelled at the school nurse for calling them and telling them that their child had lice. They refused to treat her. Once she and my DD became friends, I had occasion to visit their apartment. It was filthy. And the smell... :(   This girl never had clean clothes, her body and hair were obviously unwashed. We all know that lice isn't a symptom of bad hygiene, but it was also something that this child had to live with. The teacher had to involve the school nurse and the counselor was notified. The principal asked ME to call CYFD, even though she is a mandated reporter. I agree with those who say that a child who is dirty and has a bad odor is struggling with a lot more than just not bathing regularly. There is more going on  and I hope that someone does something other than just send out a generic letter to all of the parents.

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