My 3 year old is going to be starting public preschool in the fall, and I can already tell I am going to be the super annoying parent that's always complaining about everything, which I hate to do. We had an open house and met with her teacher, and she was super nice, and I don't want her to get annoyed with me. BUT, I really do not want my kid to be exposed to lots of toxins every day that she goes to school. They have a white board for every kid, and the teacher uses a white board. That is the biggest thing for me, there is no way my kid is going to be using whiteboard markers, but how do I gently explain this to the teacher. I was thinking I would get my daughter non-toxic markers to use herself, but they are super expensive, I don't think I can afford them for the whole class, and a whole class full of kids using whiteboard markers is going to be making a lot of fumes, even if she isn't using them herself. Also they use sharpies, and in the soap is antibacterial. Those are the big things, I'm sure more will come up. I really think preschool is going to be great for her, but how do I keep her away from toxins in the classroom without making the super nice teacher hate me?
Hi Rstelle. I am going to move your post out onto the main Learning at School forum, since you said your child will be attending public preschool and you accidentally posted in the Reggio Emilia school section.
At first glance I was surprised that they were using all those items in a Reggio classroom! They tend to be use more natural materials.
In terms of suggestions, I do wonder if the program will be a good fit for you. It seems that your family values around these issues are pretty strong and it might be helpful to find a preschool program that is more in line with these values! :)
I've never heard of using whiteboards for preschoolers. You'd think they would want to encourage handwriting with pencils and crayons. Would slates and chalk for the class be an option?
I'm not sure about the soap. That may be a losing battle in public school.
" rel="http://files.mothering.com/images/smilies/familybed2.gif"> DD1 12/05, DD2 12/08
Computer Engineer- I write better in 1's and 0's. ;-)
You might be able to get somewhere by picking a few, specific chemicals that concern you most, and talking about keeping them out of the school, but even there, you would have to be sure that you were dealing with things the school actually can control, and weren't introducing new problems. You're not going to get far suggesting that they use slates and chalk instead of whiteboards and markers because slates are breakable in ways that whiteboards aren't, and chalk means a lot of particulate matter in the air.
Three is really early for school. What are your schooling options? Any conventional schooling option these days will have whiteboard markers, but does she have to start now? Is there an affordable private option that's less academic, and doesn't do the handwriting practice thing yet?
I consider myself to be one of the most obsessively crunchy people I know, but markers? Eh.
I was super strict about ds not eating anything that he didn't bring from home. And I instructed him to always politely decline hand "sanitizer". But I never let myself worry about fumes. It would have just driven me crazy.
Three year olds who need some sort of care-giving situation might do better in a less structured play environment. I actually don't buy into the Wadorfy idea of not teaching kids to read and write until puberty. Both my kids were fully literate by their 4th bdays. But that was accomplished with instruction given by me as part of of our daily routines. We didn't sit down and do workbooks or anything, not at that age anyway. Can't you put the LO in a play type setting for another year or two, rather than a classroom?
We use white board markers in my classroom partly to cut down on the tons and tons of paper that paper practice can produce. Slate and chalk is just a huge mess. We keep all the markers together -- children don't have separate ones.
I gently suggest that you consider the program as whole, and decide if overall it is a positive or negative thing for your child. And then either use it and be positive about it, or don't use and be positive about that decision.
I don't think that requesting a teacher change her manner of instruction because of your preference is reasonable. If you can't live with your child being in a room with a white board, then you need to base school decisions around that.
but everything has pros and cons
My suggestion as a public school parent who did manage to support my DC's school to make a lot of great improvements over the years...? Pick the best school for your child (according to your values and accessability) and then just let your child start school without thinking about the things you would like them to change. After a month or so, if there is something you are (still) concerned with, ask for more information about it. Ask, "Why do you use dry-erase? Do you find the fumes in the class are irritating?" Progress forward based on the feedback you get. You may hear it's about curriculum (though writing for 3 year olds...?), or about money or other limitations. You may find it's about adaptability and meeting a variety of children's needs. You may find the teacher doesn't like it either and will support you championing this cause. But mainly you need more information before you start feeling in a position to support the school in making changes.
And, I also think your DC needs to feel you being confident and excited about school for the very start. I think that's really important.
Also, I am studying to be an art teacher. There are some uses for Sharpies that are just pretty hard to beat (and anything that does beat it is no less toxic and way more expensive). But, these are short-term type things like outlining or adding accents (and other cool uses like for etching and etc.). So, while I would have them in a class for students to use, it's not like they'd be open for a long time.
Crayola and Leapfrog both make dry erase markers labelled "nontoxic." I see them righ tnow for $5-7 a 6-pack, vs. $13/dozen for the Staples brant regular ones So not a huge price difference. they may already be using the kid-friendly nontoxic ones if they're a preschool.
I can tel you that as a kid, I was allergic to the chalk dust, and a lot of writing-and-erasing during busy lessons would leave me wheezing and coughing miserably. The "olden days methods" were not always actually healthier, and as others have said, whiteboard work cuts down on paper waste by factors of ... many.
savithny, 42 year old moderate mom to DS Primo (age 12) and DD Secunda (age 9).
I'm a teacher; we have small white boards for the kids and all white boards on the walls vs. chalk boards of old (The chalk boards are terrible for allergies and asthma, btw.) There are NO fumes from the markers we use. They are Expo markers. This is also the common brand used around here.
Thanks for your responses everyone. I was surprised so many people recommend going the route of private preschool, paying for preschool is definitely not an option for us, especially since we have a great one she can go to for free. I have talked with the preschool teacher, who is wonderful, and she is totally willing to work with me on it. Basically I just told her that I wanted to be as un-annoying as I could about this, but felt strongly about it. She is going to try see if she can get a non-toxic alternative through their supplier, if not I will probs pay for it. They do make non toxic whiteboard markers, but many brand that are labeled "non-toxic", like expo markers, are in fact quite toxic, although some don't smell, they still have fumes. Anyway, it seems that it will work out.