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#1 of 60 Old 05-23-2007, 02:48 AM - Thread Starter
 
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(Warning - LONG.)

I have boy/girl twins who just turned 5. They are in a 4 year-old nursery school program - 3 mornings a week - and are heading to kindergarten in the fall. We moved here in October and so they started at a new nursery school. The one they were in before was so wonderful in every way but I heard great things about this new school (plus they had 2 openings... a rare twist of fate in our favor for such a late registration) that we had high hopes. It is fairly liberal/crunchy, and pretty relaxed... strong emphasis on play, etc. Seemed great.

Well here's the problem. Since they started school, pretty much every week or so they have been telling stories about a few of the boys at school. First it was this little boy, N, who would throw sand and chase the kids - all the kids, not just them. We talked A LOT about it. A composite of our conversations: (I'm writing it all out)

Dd: "Mommy, N threw sand at me today."
Me: "Oh honey I'm so sorry. That must have felt pretty bad."
Dd: "It did. L and I were playing and he threw sand at us."
Me: "It hurts to get sand thrown at you. And it sounds pretty unfair of him to do that."
Dd: "Yeah."
Me: "Are you okay?"
Dd: "Yeah."
Me: "Throwing sand hurts and it also hurts feelings, doesn't it?"
Dd: "Yeah. He wasn't playing nicely."
Me: "What happened after he threw sand?"
Dd: "Mrs. G told him to stop."
Me: "Did he stop?"
Dd: "Yes. But then he did it again to S. N isn't a very nice boy."
Me: "It must seem like that, huh? But maybe he is a nice boy who sometimes doesn't do nice things."
Dd: "He needs better sandbox manners." (lol - this is a direct quote)
Me: "That's right. Some kids have a hard time remembering how to play nicely with other kids. I know it doesn't make it feel any better to get sand thrown at you, but maybe he is trying his best. It does sound like he's having a hard time remembering his 'sandbox manners'."
Dd: "Yeah. He threw sand at L last week too."
Me: "It sounds as if a lot of kids in the class have had N throw sand at them."
Dd: "Yeah. Me and L and P one time too."
Me: "That's not good. Throwing sand really hurts. I'm so sorry that happened honey. [pause] It must be hard for him to have everybody mad at him all the time, you think?"
Dd: "He is in trouble a lot."
Me: "That makes me sad. I feel sad that you got hurt and I feel sad that N doesn't always play nicely because that must be really hard for him too."
Dd: "He doesn't have friends."

and on and on. We had this conversation and ones very similar about 100 times... about N and 3 other boys. We talked endlessly about how much it sucks to get sand thrown at you (a toy grabbed out of your hands / hit (HIT!) / kicked (!) / yelled at / and chased when you don't want to be chased). We talked about how scary it is, how bad it makes us feel (physical pain and emotionally). I spoke with their teachers about it and heard that they were very aware of it and working to solve the problem.

With N in particular, it actually turned into a wonderful teaching tool as ironic as that sounds, because finally in March ds said out of the blue "I played dinosaurs today with N. He's a nice boy who sometimes doesn't do nice things. [our refrain] He really is a nice boy mommy. He was the green dinosaur and I was the red dinosaur..." And within a couple of weeks he asked if I would invite N over on a playdate. I was a little surprised but we talked about it and I decided to go ahead. So I call N's mom and said, "Hi, I'm A's and B's mom and B was wondering if N would like to come and play." She almost burst into tears and told me on the phone that they had never been invited on a playdate before. That "maybe you've heard but N has been having some trouble getting along with the kids at school". It was April and they had never been invited to a playdate or a birthday party. They came over a few weeks ago -- I braced myself and put away the breakables lol - but it was absolutely lovely. N really IS a nice boy who just has trouble integrating information or something his mom told me... like he bumps into kids as he runs by them trying to get something or doesn't think before taking a toy away from a child but once he is told about it he feels badly. Anyway, LOVED his mom too and we're now getting to be friends. Interestingly, N has not been a problem since for dd or ds. They play with him at school and we've had several playdates since. He's very sweet - a happy little fellow who yes, is a bit unpredictable & rambunctious, but being outside has been great and he and ds play dinousaurs a lot and everyone's happy.

Then there's T. He is much more aggressive than N. He punched dd in the stomach in March trying to get her paint. I freaked and went in and had this parent-teacher conference. They told me he had some "issues" and that they were working with his parents on a "plan". (And a lot of other stuff... how sorry they were, etc etc.) But still, every week, there's some story about T. He yelled at K. He hit L and K. He threw sand at me. He grabbed my book. We've been talking about it - I've been doing a lot of listening and empathizing and trying to give them ideas on what to do. But I also felt like I didn't want to be the squeaky wheel (my first mistake) - THAT mom who calls and harrasses the teachers about "kids just being kids" or whatever I told myself. I feel for the teachers - they have a tough job and I know kids sometimes get in tussles and things happen, but the physical stuff was really surprising to me and upsetting to my kids.

Fast forward to last week... dh took ds to a birthday party where T was. Dh travels and isn't really plugged into the kids' school friends, but came home HORRIFIED by T's behavior. Then we had a family baseball game at the school 2 days later and I saw T just acting so badly and his parents weren't handling it well at all. I was kind of shocked at how "out there" T's behavior was. So I decide to call the teacher again. I am also mad that it's May and it's still happening. No, my kids aren't being yelled at or hit every day, but it's always someone even if it's not them, and the same boys' names come up again and again and again. OBVIOUSLY whatever the school is doing isn't working. I read Gavin deBecker's book "Protecting the Gift" recently and I remember how he said schools are absolutely terrible at handling bullies. I should have been more proactive.

So I spoke with the teacher tonight. She told me T has a diagnosis and has an aide in the classroom with him at all times. That he is receiving "services" and is there as part of the "inclusion program" where they have kids with special needs in regular classrooms. (WHAT inclusion program? This is news to me.) She goes on to tell me 3 other children are receiving services (all of the ones I've been hearing about all these months) for their issues. She told me she's had it.. that she feels like she has become a special ed teacher. 4 kids is 20% of the classroom, btw. She's been punched in the mouth 12 times by 1 child (T) alone. She has tried to say she wants her class size reduced but the school director said they can't do it mid year. She said "we're doing the best we can but we're not set up to handle this."

And I'm sorry I just snapped... why is this information that is kept from the parents? I have a right to know that a child has punched his teacher in the mouth 12 times and has hit 28 times and has a full-time aide (who apparently is USELESS) in the classroom with him. It is May for crying out loud! School is over in 2 days! Whatever it is they are TRYING to do isn't working... the whole school year has gone by and these problems almost seem to be getting worse.

I am so angry right now. I feel like my children have an absolute inalienable right to be safe in their school. And if the school cannot guarantee that, they are failing at their most basic function. My children have a right not to be PHYSICALLY ASSAULTED and TERRORIZED in f'ing nursery school for crying out loud!

The last couple of months, the "buzz" at the playground and in mom's groups in my (small, tightly knit) neighborhood has been that this school is having a "rough year". That it's been kind of "every man for himself" up there, a little "loosey goosey". People are pulling their kids out of lunch bunch, switching preschools for next year, not signing up younger sibs there. And in fact, this teacher I spoke with said enrollment is down there. They had a sharp downturn in enrollment and were scrambling. I told her the buzz. She was shocked that people have noticed and also upset that no one knows that it's not just typical behavior issues they're dealing with. I feel like vital information has been withheld from me and I'm really mad that my kids are taking the hit because the school is apparently so ill-equipped/terrible at handling kids with these behavior problems.

I don't know what to do. I am so pissed. I think exposure to a diverse student population - including children with special needs - is so important, and we have even seen how being open to this has helped our own children learn different skills and has made us all a new friend (N and his mom). But I still think that children who are violent do not belong in school unless there can be some guarantee written in blood or something that their behavior can be controlled (by their aide, their medication, their therapy, whatever). That is the absolute bare minimum that should be required, right?

What should I do? I have a meeting tomorrow afternoon with the director. I think I'm just going to say what I wrote above, that my children have a right to be safe at school. Period. And they aren't doing this MOST fundamental job. Keep the focus on my kids and their rights.

Please help. (I'm sorry this was so long.)
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#2 of 60 Old 05-23-2007, 03:04 AM
 
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it sounds like you are doing a great job as the mommy and protecting your kids. I was a former ps teacher and I had 5 special needs children in my care. What we did was seperate out the SN kids from the main group and would do some activties with the group but lots of them on our own. The main reason we would split up was for the saftey of the other students.
I had one other student that would come for 1/2 days from a high needs pre school who was working on getting put into a regular class room p\t to help out. And yes I did get hit several times,kicked, peed on among other things.
I would talk with the director and suggest that they hire someone who can take some of the sn kids on as a full time job then they can meet with the other students at recess or art projects. That way if things get to be too much for the sn kids they can do something that else. And if the aids are there too it will help that teacher too.
HTH
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#3 of 60 Old 05-23-2007, 03:07 AM
 
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What a rough situation.

I don't know what to tell you, I would be pissed too.

My daughter's school (private Montessori school - mostly ages 3-6) has a policy that if a child is involved in a physical incident with another child, a report is written up and given to both children's parents. If I remember correctly, they may not tell the victim's parents who the aggressor was, but that something took place. We've never gotten a notice like that though.

Ask to see their written policy on how these situations will be handled. If you haven't been given this policy before, ask why? Then also see if they are following their own policy.

I would look into writing a letter or filing a complaint with whatever board overseas licensing of these facilities.

Mightymoo - Mom to DD (6) and DS (4)
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#4 of 60 Old 05-23-2007, 03:10 AM
 
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It sounds like you're doing what you can. You have the job of protecting your daughter. This is supposed to be a fun experience away from you. It's not supposed to be this kind of bullying situation that it is right now. If I were you, I might consider starting summer early. The preschool will lose your money and lose another child, which is not what they want. I know that she has her friends there, but maybe her friends parents feel the same way and will pull their kids out as well. Then, you can do park days or something.

You should never feel guilty for being assertive about your daughter's safety.

Feel better
Lisa

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#5 of 60 Old 05-23-2007, 03:13 AM
 
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I would pull my child in a heartbeat.

Sorry, but inclusion does not mean putting my kids in harm's way.:

Wife to a wonderful dh and mom to four beautiful kiddos, dd (3/04):, ds1 (1/06), ds2 (10/08), and ds3 (7/10)
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#6 of 60 Old 05-23-2007, 04:58 AM
 
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There was a boy in the first year of my son's preschool who had impulse control issues. Three years later my son still refers to him as "the mean one." (We too talked a lot about the idea that he wasn't a bad person, but just had a hard time handling certain situations.)

I adored my son's preschool, and they did the most fabulous job working with this child, but I still wish I hadn't sent him. (Not because of that reason alone, however.) So in hindsight I would pull him out. But I don't know if that's an option for you. Ds2 will not be going to preschool.

If you can't or don't want to pull them out, then I would be looking at a new school. When I toured Kindergartens (both public and high end private), the vast majority of my questions had to do with how disputes are handled, and how kids are kept safe, both physically and emotionally. Many of the administrators didn't even know what to say in response to my questions (apparently they don't get asked this very often), but the answers that I did get were pretty unreassuring. But I would still recommend you ask. And make a stink every time it happens. Unfortunately, I would be willing to bet these kids are probably really good kids who just can't handle group dynamics very well, or really good kids who have little or no parental guidance.

Quote:
I feel like my children have an absolute inalienable right to be safe in their school. And if the school cannot guarantee that, they are failing at their most basic function. My children have a right not to be PHYSICALLY ASSAULTED and TERRORIZED in f'ing nursery school for crying out loud!
I don't want to completely derail this discussion, but I think this is one area where all schools fail, many miserably. The most fantastic school in the world cannot simply see every single kid at all times. I only have two children in my one small house and I miss incidents of one of them bopping the other or being mean. It just cannot be done. And that's the problem with the ones who are actually trying. Others just chalk it up to "kids will be kids." My dh still has issues stemming from two years of bullying he endured in junior high.

I'm not really sure what can be done about it, to be honest. I just don't think that young children are meant to be put into large groups together with just one or two adults. (And yes, as a disclaimer, we are homeschooling. This is one of many reasons.)
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#7 of 60 Old 05-23-2007, 05:42 AM
 
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That's just plain crap. I'd talk to the principal and let them know you will not be recommending this school to anyone for these reasons. I would also suggest that if the aids cannot help to keep the other children out of harms way, the "integration" needs to be discontinued. No child has a right to be integrated into a classroom if it puts the teacher or other students in harms way. When it comes to physical endangerment, a child's right to a safe learning environment trumps the "integration" right of another child who cannot be controlled or who can cause harm to others. Period.

I am so sorry you have to deal with this. :

Jenn
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#8 of 60 Old 05-23-2007, 07:58 AM
 
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I erased my post, but will just say this...

Please keep in mind that there are a lot of moms on here who's kids have special needs and are dealing with inclusion issues from the other side. It is difficult, at best, and we need to remember to be mindful of how we say things.

Mom to 10yo Autistic Wonder Boy and 6yo Inquisitive Fireball Girl . December birthdays.

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#9 of 60 Old 05-23-2007, 08:22 AM
 
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I agree with the OP. To play devils advocate, the kids with SN's who have an aide need to learn how to interact with other kids. Yes, the kids shouldn't be getting hurt and they need to do a better job, but it's not fair to the kids with the SN's to be kept apart from the other kids.

You have to realize that this is a hard phase for kids overall, and SN's kids especially because they don't always have the available tools to express themselves. I think you are doing the right thing in staying involved and keeping yourself informed. Your kids deserve to be safe, but the group dynamics for kids that age are always kind of crazy, so if the teachers aren't putting proper boundaries in place, I would probably find another school for the next year, or sooner if possible.

We have had a couple of instances where it was clear that the people in charge were not able to handle the kids, and we actually went to the director in one instance, and demanded that somebody competent be put in that room immediately. (this wasn't a one time deal, and when it's our kids safety, a one time deal is really all it takes for me) We got the results we wanted, and there is now somebody who is competent, calm, knows the kids, knows how to work with each one, and they all adore her. She will tell us the TRUTH anytime something happens, another problem we'd run into (Why does DS have a scratch mark on his face? Oh, um, we aren't sure how it happened, we think he might have done it in his sleep instead of "Well, he was playing with another child and they got into an argument. Before we could break it up, the other child scratched your DS. We had them both apologize to each other, and we talked about why we don't hurt each other )
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#10 of 60 Old 05-23-2007, 09:30 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jennifer Z View Post
I erased my post, but will just say this...

Please keep in mind that there are a lot of moms on here who's kids have special needs and are dealing with inclusion issues from the other side. It is difficult, at best, and we need to remember to be mindful of how we say things.

:

I can understand what the OP is saying as my oldest and youngest are gentle, loving, calm people. My middle son (6) is ADHD and Aspergers and all bets are off with him. I struggle daily with him and his impulses. He attends a Montessori school and his teacher of three years is awesome. I know there are issues daily with him but they deal with it at school. I deal with our issues at home.

What you describe as a "bully" is decribing my son and it's painful, isolating and very frustrating to parent a child like mine. So, yeah I can see your point, and I have no answers for you, but I can also see the other side. (I do apprieciate you teaching your kids that the child isn't bad but his behaviors are).
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#11 of 60 Old 05-23-2007, 09:47 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by twinmonkeys
What we did was seperate out the SN kids from the main group and would do some activties with the group but lots of them on our own. The main reason we would split up was for the saftey of the other students. // I would talk with the director and suggest that they hire someone who can take some of the sn kids on as a full time job
: great points.

Quote:
Originally Posted by moightymoo
My daughter's school (private Montessori school - mostly ages 3-6) has a policy that if a child is involved in a physical incident with another child, a report is written up and given to both children's parents. If I remember correctly, they may not tell the victim's parents who the aggressor was, but that something took place. We've never gotten a notice like that though.

Ask to see their written policy on how these situations will be handled. If you haven't been given this policy before, ask why? Then also see if they are following their own policy.

I would look into writing a letter or filing a complaint with whatever board overseas licensing of these facilities.
: YES! If I KNEW about this stuff I could've done something about it. I hear about the boys being mean or throwing sand... obviously dd's big incident (punched in stomach over some paint). But I absolutely miss the big picture.. the pervasiveness and seriousness of the problem. I did not for example know the teacher had been punched 12 times or the degree to which other children were being assaulted.

I will ask about the policy (I doubt they have one) and I will also consider complaining to that board.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lisa49
If I were you, I might consider starting summer early. The preschool will lose your money and lose another child, which is not what they want. I know that she has her friends there, but maybe her friends parents feel the same way and will pull their kids out as well.
Quote:
Originally Posted by ledzeppolon
I would pull my child in a heartbeat.
I would have too. But this morning they have Kindergarten Orientation - and will be at kindergarten (with me and younger ds) meeting the teachers there (more on that in a sec). Thursday is the class party (with me) and then school's out for the summer. It really is 11th hour that I'm hearing about all this and doing something about it. Which is part of what has me so mad... at the school AND at myself for not pressing more. :


Quote:
Originally Posted by oceanbaby
If you can't or don't want to pull them out, then I would be looking at a new school. When I toured Kindergartens (both public and high end private), the vast majority of my questions had to do with how disputes are handled, and how kids are kept safe, both physically and emotionally. Many of the administrators didn't even know what to say in response to my questions (apparently they don't get asked this very often), but the answers that I did get were pretty unreassuring. But I would still recommend you ask.
Great timing! Kindergarten orientation is this morning - they take the incoming kindergarteners in in small groups and this a.m. is dd's and ds' day to go. We see the classrooms and meet the teachers, and they also do this screening of all kids to see if there are any gross issues that need services and to ensure balance in the classrooms.
I am making a list of things to ask right now. Your post is very timely.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JenniferZ
Please keep in mind that there are a lot of moms on here who's kids have special needs and are dealing with inclusion issues from the other side. It is difficult, at best, and we need to remember to be mindful of how we say things.
I really truly know this. I rewrote my post about 10 times and really hope it is not offensive. I do want to try to talk about this very serious issue without slamming the rights of special needs kids in general (which is something I TOTALLY disagree with) and kids with aggressive/impulse control behavior issues in particular. I have actually really benefitted from the information on this board about aspergers, autism, high needs, sensory integration issues and is a lot of what has shaped my desire not to go off on the kids themselves or even their right to attend school, but rather the school's handling of the larger situation, which is, some of these children (I'm sure a very small subset of the total number of kids with special needs) are a persistent and serious threat to my kids' safety and this is not acceptable whether or not they carry a diagnosis.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SquishyKitty
You have to realize that this is a hard phase for kids overall, and SN's kids especially because they don't always have the available tools to express themselves. I think you are doing the right thing in staying involved and keeping yourself informed. Your kids deserve to be safe, but the group dynamics for kids that age are always kind of crazy, so if the teachers aren't putting proper boundaries in place, I would probably find another school for the next year, or sooner if possible.

We have had a couple of instances where it was clear that the people in charge were not able to handle the kids, and we actually went to the director in one instance, and demanded that somebody competent be put in that room immediately. (this wasn't a one time deal, and when it's our kids safety, a one time deal is really all it takes for me) We got the results we wanted, and there is now somebody who is competent, calm, knows the kids, knows how to work with each one, and they all adore her. She will tell us the TRUTH anytime something happens, another problem we'd run into (Why does DS have a scratch mark on his face? Oh, um, we aren't sure how it happened, we think he might have done it in his sleep instead of "Well, he was playing with another child and they got into an argument. Before we could break it up, the other child scratched your DS. We had them both apologize to each other, and we talked about why we don't hurt each other )
More : for today's meeting with the director. I think they've just handled it so abismally (sp). There does seem to be a lot of downplaying and inappropriate handling of the situations. One time ds said T hit him and in the course of our conversation, I said, "What did Mrs. G do?" And he said, "She said, 'That's strike 3, T. Now you need a time out.'" Strike 3? Strike THREE?!?!?! So someone had to be hit 2 other times that day for him to get a time out?!??! Not to mention I have a gut feeling time out is a really ineffective way to handle behavior issues with a kids with these issues. : I'm sure this is before the aide, but still... the aide has done diddly to help prevent the physical assaults as they have persisted all year long.

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#12 of 60 Old 05-23-2007, 10:42 AM
 
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It must be so frustrating to be hearing of this now, when it's too late to really try to change anything about their experience! It is bizarre to me that there was that level of physicality involved without clear communication from the school about the different incidents.

I agree that the special needs children involved should not be demonized, and that their needs should be valued as well - but from your conversation with the teacher, it sounds like the school was failing to meet the needs of all of the children involved. T may well have lost out this year too, being in an environment where his behavior challenges were not well-handled and, perhaps, escalated.
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#13 of 60 Old 05-23-2007, 12:01 PM
 
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My stomach is awfully tight at the moment. I'm the mom of a son in receipt of additional services and a daughter who was the recipient of others' outbursts in preschool, so I certainly know it from both sides.

On the strike 3 thing (which is a stupid term, "strike", imo) it could be that the previous 2 "strikes" were the escalating behaviours and he hadn't hit anyone before that. I generally agree that TO is not always the best for some kids, but it's what most schools have in their tool box. It was very difficult to move this year's PS teachers away from using them with DS as they felt they were a proven method, but are wholly unproductive with DS.

As for keeping parents informed. To some degree, there is some rough and tumble at preschool just by virtue of the age. DD was pushed, hit, kicked etc in her two years of preschool and there was only one child identified as special needs and he had a onene worker. I was never once told by a teacher who had done it, but would have been discussing it with them if they hadn't been up front with me that things had occured. The child who is struggling has the right to his specifics being kept private and it is inappropriate for teachers to discuss much.

With respect to parental handling of behaviour observed, my son regularly throws me for a loop and I'm always rushing to find a strategy that works for emerging skills or behaviour.

WRT getting extra support, it took almost a year from the identification that my son was struggling for supports to be put in place. We had him home until 3 and didn't realize that he had SPD (head smack). We learned a number of things, as did his daycare teachers (2 days per week) and preschool teachers from the consultant who supports my son. The biggest one is "what happened before the child acted out?" My son is reactive, not instigating. Turned out, the kids were pushing his buttons because until he finally "popped" they thought it was fun . The very skilled teachers in both settings didn't see this at all. They all have at least a two year ECD diploma and years of experience, but that doesn't mean they know everything about every situation. So, in some defense of the school, who will suffer for this whole thing through lower enrollment and damage to their reputation, maybe they just weren't equipped and the system that's supposed to help them was too slow to react.

The very best thing that our daycare and preschool have done is to not give up on my son, to be optimistic that he will learn new ways of coping and navigating through his world. I am thankful every day for that.

Mom to a teenager and a middle schooler.

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#14 of 60 Old 05-23-2007, 12:55 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by joensally View Post
As for keeping parents informed. To some degree, there is some rough and tumble at preschool just by virtue of the age. DD was pushed, hit, kicked etc in her two years of preschool and there was only one child identified as special needs and he had a onene worker. I was never once told by a teacher who had done it, but would have been discussing it with them if they hadn't been up front with me that things had occured. The child who is struggling has the right to his specifics being kept private and it is inappropriate for teachers to discuss much.
I agree, though I think it is possible and even necessary to communicate to parents that a child has hurt their child in a formal and consistent way. I didn't even know he had an aide in the classroom much less his diagnosis or what else is going on, but I have a right to have my children safe just as much as he has a right to be in school, in fact I would argue, from an ethics / basic morality perspective, more so. The right to bodily integrity and basic protection is a fundamental human right that ought to be taken a lot more seriously than it has been.

I cannot imagine what having a child like this is like - there but for the grace of G*d go I and all that. But having your happy go lucky, sweet inncocent 4 year-olds attacked and almost even worse terrorized all year long is absolutely and completely unacceptable and intolerable. They need to get their act together with regard to providing a safe and accomodating place for ALL of the schoolchildren.

*********

We went to kindergarten orientation this morning and it went great. They had lots of fun and enjoyed meeting their teachers and seeing the classrooms. When they went with the teachers for the screening part, the parents got to ask questions. It sounds like they are MUCH MUCH MUCH more trained and well staffed and used to handling these situations. (Phew. Big exhale.) There are typically 8 or 9 special ed kids in the regular kindergarten class who could have a range of problems (i.e., so not all of these kids are highly disruptive and aggressive like T and some of the others at their nursery school) and they are divided among 5 kindergarten classes of roughly 18-22 kids each. Each child has a (can't remember the acronym) dedicated aide with them the entire time. If the aide isn't a good fit, they get a new one. They have a speech therapist on staff full time, a school counselor full time, a special ed coordinator, all of the teachers have received training on having integrated classrooms, they have changed some of the facilities around (for example, the kids in special ed have bathrooms IN the classroom now), and they also have a dedicated classroom for the very troubled children - so if a child is extremely aggressive that child will be in a separate classroom but then everyone comes together for art and music and gym and science and such. They have a written policy on how assaultative behavior is handled and what the escalation procedures are, and she even said they reevaluate it at the end of each school year. I saw the classrooms and could see the kids with behavior problems were right alongside the other children with their aide and VERY happy and doing their thing along with the rest of the kids. The classrooms seemed warm but were running like well oiled machines (in my 15 min. tour anyway lol). So I am really hopeful that we will not be dealing with such a poorly managed situation anymore - this school district seems to be at the top of their game at being inclusive to all children and running these programs extremely well. I also signed up to co-chair the parents committee and am glad I will have the opportunity to be more plugged in to my kids' schooling than I have this past year.

Next up: meeting with the director of their nursery school this afternoon.
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#15 of 60 Old 05-23-2007, 01:31 PM
 
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But I still think that children who are violent do not belong in school unless there can be some guarantee written in blood or something that their behavior can be controlled (by their aide, their medication, their therapy, whatever). That is the absolute bare minimum that should be required, right?
Good luck. When mine (non-special needs) were that age, I could to my best and did but certainly there were no guarantees about their behaviour. Much of it has to do with age. I couldn't expect a teacher or aide to be able to guarantee something that I could not.
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#16 of 60 Old 05-23-2007, 02:00 PM
 
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There's a difference between the occasional rift between little kids about a toy and the constant fear that one child in particular will be hurtful today like he/she was yesterday, the day before, the day before, the day before and so on. This is not just a special needs child problem, either. If the child wasn't special needs, I'd demand he/she be dealt with. I understand giving latitude for children who have a hard time with impulse control but when is enough really enough?
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#17 of 60 Old 05-23-2007, 02:02 PM
 
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For me, the problem isn't the children with problem behaviors, it's the fact that it doesn't feel like they are learning BETTER behaviors. It's the same problems at the end of the year as it was in the beginning of the year. (And yes, I am well aware that kids with special needs make progress slowly. I'm good with that. Even if the progress was barely perceptible to anyone else, if they make progress, yay! Then intervention is working!)

We have a problem with a girl bully at school. She is manipulative, bossy, and cruel to other girls if she think no adult can hear, and she will lie and deny everything if adults try to help the girls work through "their" problem (which is usually caused entirely by her, and her saying things like, "You can't play with us unless you follow all of my rules and give me the cookies in your lunch.") The school intervention plan is for both girls to say how they feel, and try to reach a compromise. 7 months later we are STILL at square one with this girl, and all she's learned is to hide and deny. The lack of learning better social skills makes me CRAZY. I need to feel that the school is evaluating the effectiveness of the intervention and adjusting it if necessary, and not just leaving the other kids vulnerable

I'm a little concerned about a kindergarten with nearly 50% of the kids as special needs inclusion. That is a very high ratio for inclusion to work well.
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I erased my post, but will just say this...

Please keep in mind that there are a lot of moms on here who's kids have special needs and are dealing with inclusion issues from the other side. It is difficult, at best, and we need to remember to be mindful of how we say things.
Thank you, Jennifer.

OP, I have to run my dd to school, but I'll be back. You're understandably frustrated w/ the way the school has handled things thus far.

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#19 of 60 Old 05-23-2007, 02:24 PM
 
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I agree, though I think it is possible and even necessary to communicate to parents that a child has hurt their child in a formal and consistent way. I didn't even know he had an aide in the classroom much less his diagnosis or what else is going on, but I have a right to have my children safe just as much as he has a right to be in school, in fact I would argue, from an ethics / basic morality perspective, more so. The right to bodily integrity and basic protection is a fundamental human right that ought to be taken a lot more seriously than it has been.

I cannot imagine what having a child like this is like - there but for the grace of G*d go I and all that. But having your happy go lucky, sweet inncocent 4 year-olds attacked and almost even worse terrorized all year long is absolutely and completely unacceptable and intolerable. They need to get their act together with regard to providing a safe and accomodating place for ALL of the schoolchildren.

*********

We went to kindergarten orientation this morning and it went great. They had lots of fun and enjoyed meeting their teachers and seeing the classrooms. When they went with the teachers for the screening part, the parents got to ask questions. It sounds like they are MUCH MUCH MUCH more trained and well staffed and used to handling these situations. (Phew. Big exhale.) There are typically 8 or 9 special ed kids in the regular kindergarten class who could have a range of problems (i.e., so not all of these kids are highly disruptive and aggressive like T and some of the others at their nursery school) and they are divided among 5 kindergarten classes of roughly 18-22 kids each. Each child has a (can't remember the acronym) dedicated aide with them the entire time. If the aide isn't a good fit, they get a new one. They have a speech therapist on staff full time, a school counselor full time, a special ed coordinator, all of the teachers have received training on having integrated classrooms, they have changed some of the facilities around (for example, the kids in special ed have bathrooms IN the classroom now), and they also have a dedicated classroom for the very troubled children - so if a child is extremely aggressive that child will be in a separate classroom but then everyone comes together for art and music and gym and science and such. They have a written policy on how assaultative behavior is handled and what the escalation procedures are, and she even said they reevaluate it at the end of each school year. I saw the classrooms and could see the kids with behavior problems were right alongside the other children with their aide and VERY happy and doing their thing along with the rest of the kids. The classrooms seemed warm but were running like well oiled machines (in my 15 min. tour anyway lol). So I am really hopeful that we will not be dealing with such a poorly managed situation anymore - this school district seems to be at the top of their game at being inclusive to all children and running these programs extremely well. I also signed up to co-chair the parents committee and am glad I will have the opportunity to be more plugged in to my kids' schooling than I have this past year.

Next up: meeting with the director of their nursery school this afternoon.
Sorry, too lazy to edit and just quoted the whole .

I'm glad you had such a great kindie orientation. How is it that this school has such a high ratio of special needs kids? That exceeds what you'd expect in the population (of kids needing such a high level of support).

I'd also like to clarify my POV. My son is 3.5 years younger than my daughter and so I had no idea about "the other side." I was the parent of a sweet, gentle, entirely not physical preschooler who was on the receiving end of other kids' outbursts. It happens as a matter of course when littles are in groups. Gordon Neufeld speaks to this, among others, about the pecking order that kids try to create. Some of this would happen anyway. Some kids without behaviour issues love to throw sand etc. This is why good preschools emphasize social skills etc, as children learn to behave in community. That said, I was apalled (sp) when my little one was hurt by another child, so I really do understand where you're coming from.

I also agree that the parents should be kept informed. I wonder if things escalated in the last few months and this accounts for them not being better able to communicate - maybe they were overwhelmed?

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But having your happy go lucky, sweet inncocent 4 year-olds attacked and almost even worse terrorized all year long is absolutely and completely unacceptable and intolerable. They need to get their act together with regard to providing a safe and accomodating place for ALL of the schoolchildren.
I think this language is a bit extreme. Your children were "terrorized" all year long?

I'll also mention, lest my comments be disregarded as defensive, that my standing policy with both daycare and preschool is that if my son is physical beyond what is deemed normative and typical for his age group, we are to be called and he'll be picked up as he doesn't get to hurt or disrupt others. Period. We were called once, last summer before we had the consultant come and help. He had pushed one child during a dispute (I think they were arguing over the movie Cars, lol), he'd made his spitty noise at another child while lining up for hand washing (we later grew to understand his personal space issues), and after being warned to get it together, he used bad language at another child (still in the handwashing line). We went and got him and discussed coping strategies and his responsibility to his friends.

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#20 of 60 Old 05-23-2007, 02:30 PM
 
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For me, the problem isn't the children with problem behaviors, it's the fact that it doesn't feel like they are learning BETTER behaviors. It's the same problems at the end of the year as it was in the beginning of the year. (And yes, I am well aware that kids with special needs make progress slowly. I'm good with that. Even if the progress was barely perceptible to anyone else, if they make progress, yay! Then intervention is working!)

We have a problem with a girl bully at school. She is manipulative, bossy, and cruel to other girls if she think no adult can hear, and she will lie and deny everything if adults try to help the girls work through "their" problem (which is usually caused entirely by her, and her saying things like, "You can't play with us unless you follow all of my rules and give me the cookies in your lunch.") The school intervention plan is for both girls to say how they feel, and try to reach a compromise. 7 months later we are STILL at square one with this girl, and all she's learned is to hide and deny. The lack of learning better social skills makes me CRAZY. I need to feel that the school is evaluating the effectiveness of the intervention and adjusting it if necessary, and not just leaving the other kids vulnerable
I'm not sure why bullying and special needs are being conflated in this thread.

As for the girl you're describing, I would encourage you to google relational bullying, and "bullying girls and long-term outcomes." You will find lots of stuff about it, and the very alarming finding that a large proportion of girls who are bullying at 8 and younger go on to be incarcerated. The school needs to get it together for her classmates, the girl, and the community at large. If the school won't get it together, go to the district. IME, it's when parents insist that schools respond.

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#21 of 60 Old 05-23-2007, 03:05 PM
 
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I think your expectations of what can and can't be managed in a school classroom are a bit unrealistic.

Children's behavior CANNOT be controlled 100 percent of the time. Do you "control" all aspects of your children's behavior all the time?

That being said, it sounds like the nursery school needs better and more clear policies about what to do with disruptive and antagonistic behavior. Unfortunately, IME, profit-driven preschools and schools will often do what's best for them short term (try to hang on to the tuition) vs. what would be better in the longer term. And frankly, *no* administration/bureaucracy will move from the status quo without demand.

I think a lot of time parents tend to focus on the Evil Child vs. Their Total Angel, which divides group parental collaboration (why should I care? My kid's not having a problem, maybe YOUR kid is asking for it!). Most people could get behind a policy that lays down clear expectations for behavior and standard consequences (SN or not). That seems to be the better way of handling it, particularly in a preschool situation, where parents can have a lot of $$ clout if they band together. If you approach it systematically you can also avoid the personal-punitive of going after an individual kid (which should make you uncomfortable, as it won't help in the future and may be inaccurate).

I've always felt that preschool/ECE teachers can have a huge impact on helping kids learn how to deal with bullying, and being the first guiding influences in the education system of preventing kids from becoming bullies. Unfortunately, they're also some of the lowest paid folks, there can be high turnover, and in most states there's no training requirement for ECE folks (though thank goodness in K-12 there's at least an acknowledgement of a need for those programs!). That too is something that parents have to band together to try and impact from a systems point of view.

To a large degree, I think bullying is ignored because parents don't really want to put in the work to actually change things, especially when their kid is only going to be in the program for a year or so and so they won't reap a benefit from it. Administrators can ignore it because they know the parents won't pull their kids or group together to demand change. And ECE folks sometimes are not welcome at bullying seminars because some folks in the education system don't see them as 'real' colleagues.

Before I had kids, I actually would do mini-seminars for parents about bullying, ect. You'd be amazed at how little they wanted to do with it. The Not-MY-angel-never! syndrome. But if their kid told them that someone else hit them, I'd get a screaming phone call for 45 minutes, until we straightened things out. I'm not surprised that sometimes teacher just find it hard to dredge up the energy. However, it's something that needs to be done, if you're going to be an ethical teacher (IMO), and something best done with the support and participation and sometimes the driving of the parents.
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#22 of 60 Old 05-23-2007, 03:31 PM
 
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I'm not sure why bullying and special needs are being conflated in this thread.
Because the kids that have been "bullying" the OP's children have been SN kids.

It sounds like the school just hasn't got much experience or help in working w/ SN kids.

I don't really know what to say. As a parent of a SN child, I am horrified when he is playing (in his mind) and hurts someone. I also have a neuro-typical child and when she gets hurt, I try to be understanding. What if the kid that hurt her is SN likes her brother? Not every kid is perfect all the time.

Obviously, if your child is being hurt he or she has every right NOT to be hurt. We all do!

If the kids doing the hurting are SN, then the school needs to step it up a notch and deal with it appropriately.

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#23 of 60 Old 05-23-2007, 03:35 PM
 
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The thing with a lot of special needs kids is that they act out the most when they are overwhelmed - by their surroundings, by the other kids, by the activity going on around them, by any number of things!

I have two NT girls and a wonderful ASC boy in the middle. He did great in preschool, fantastic in kindergarten - and just when I was questioning whether there really was a problem or not - first grade hit. He was in a classroom with two other high-needs boys (I'm saying high-needs, because I am not privy to whether or not they are actually special needs) and he started mimicing the behaviour of one of the other boys. You would not have believed how shocked I was when I was called to the school one day because my sweet boy threw a chair. Within two weeks I was called to the school six times - twice in one day. It was horrible, for me, for his teacher, for his fellow students, and for him. The typical "time out" strategy was doing nothing more than agitating him more, because he knew he was being punished, but he just couldn't get a handle on how to control himself so he wouldn't be punished. Honestly, that month was pretty much the hardest month of my whole life - and that was *after* my husband walked out on me and my three kids...BUT, working with his teacher, the principal, and school guidance counseler we made the decision to move him to another classroom and he thrived. The whole mood of the class was different. In no way do I blame the other boys for my son's behaviour, but by taking him out of the classroom that was completely overwhelming him, his behaviour totally changed and he did not have a single problem the rest of the year. And here we are, almost done with second grade, and still doing wonderfully!

I do have to say that the report you got about the kindergarten your kids will attend sounds too good to be true, to me. I find it very hard to believe that there are that many special needs children and that they *each* have their own personal aid. Maybe things are just very different where you are though...

And lastly, you said this:

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I cannot imagine what having a child like this is like - there but for the grace of G*d go I and all that.
I *know* you didn't mean any offense by this, but I really wish you would rethink your words - honestly, that phrase bugs the crap out of me (and I am a Christian), it makes it seem like you think that those of us with special needs children are falling outside the grace of God, and I *know* you didn't mean it that way...That's just my own personal pet peeve though...
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I would pull my child in a heartbeat.

Sorry, but inclusion does not mean putting my kids in harm's way.:
I feel exactly the same way.
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#25 of 60 Old 05-23-2007, 03:50 PM
 
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I would pull my child in a heartbeat. :

Sorry, but inclusion does not mean putting my kids in harm's way.

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I feel exactly the same way.

Ok, so, what do we do? We should remove our SN kids so yours are ok? What does that tell our SN kids who are trying to learn how to function in society? That they're not good enough? That they're freaks?

Whether you meant it or not, that is totally how it comes across to me as a SN parent.

None of us WANT our kids to hurt others. Our kids need to learn how to adapt and work with society. We have to help them understand in whatever way they can. The educators they have need to do the same.

Removing SN kids from the equation protects your kids, sure. But what does it do for mine?

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#26 of 60 Old 05-23-2007, 03:52 PM
 
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I would pull my child in a heartbeat.

Sorry, but inclusion does not mean putting my kids in harm's way.:
i agree with this. to the OP... I am really worried about DD going to preschool next year. i think you have gone out of your way to be understanding and that the school just doesn't have the proper system in place to handle the inclusion properly. Inclusion should never put the welfare of another child at risk, physically or emotionally. Children are not gunea pigs and should not be subject to abuse so another child can learn how to behave. Of course, incidents are going to happen... but repeated episodes involving the same children isn't acceptable.

I agree that we hand over certain control over our children when we leave them in care of others. But those taking care of them owe the children (and us) to provide them with a safe, loving place to learn and grow together.

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#27 of 60 Old 05-23-2007, 03:58 PM
 
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Wow, Mama. That is a really hard situation. I think you handled the first situation with N beautifully, and to end-up making family friends to boot? Awesome.

My thoughts on the children who are exhibiting these behaviors - it seems to me they really need more than just one teacher in the classroom of many children. If they do "have a diagnosis", and they are a part of a special needs program, it is clear to me the school/program are not meeting the children's needs adequately. Some PPs have mentioned it certainly is difficult to maintain control 100% of the time with just a couple kids, let alone a classroom full including some special needs children. However, the situations outlined by the OP is one of predictable aggressive behavior, which is being addressed within the paradigm of some sort of social/emotional diagnosis. The incidents described cannot be written off as an oversight due to a population of children being watched over by one person. The school is failing all the children miserably by not providing the resources clearly needed by the special needs children (i.e. one-on-one), and are not providing the rest of the classroom with basic safety.

I hope your school addresses this adequately SOON. It is simply unacceptable.

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#28 of 60 Old 05-23-2007, 03:59 PM
 
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Ok, so, what do we do? We should remove our SN kids so yours are ok? What does that tell our SN kids who are trying to learn how to function in society? That they're not good enough? That they're freaks?

Whether you meant it or not, that is totally how it comes across to me as a SN parent.

None of us WANT our kids to hurt others. Our kids need to learn how to adapt and work with society. We have to help them understand in whatever way they can. The educators they have need to do the same.

Removing SN kids from the equation protects your kids, sure. But what does it do for mine?
She isn't talking about all situations, just this one. Im sure that you would agree that if your child was repeatedly abusing another child in school that parent would be justified in removing their child from the school. And vice versa.. what if your child was being repeatedly targeted by another child? What would it teach your child to disregard their fear and allow them to be repeatedly sbjected to abuse? that they have to take it so the other child can "learn"?

I don't think anyone on this thread is saying that inclusion is wrong. I don't think that is the point of this thread at all. It is that when there are repeated incidents of abuse from one child to another that something should be done. Period. Regardless of whether the child is special needs or not.

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#29 of 60 Old 05-23-2007, 04:01 PM
 
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Ok, so, what do we do? We should remove our SN kids so yours are ok? What does that tell our SN kids who are trying to learn how to function in society? That they're not good enough? That they're freaks?
It's not about the children who are having the issues. It's about the way the adults are dealing with the children who are having the issues. One lesson to be learned in order function is society is that a person doesn't get to hit three people before an intervention.

I'm trying hard to see both sides of this but I can't imagine why a parent whose child is assaulting children and teachers on a daily basis thinks it's rude for other parents to complain about how it's being handled. Obviously, this inclusion isn't working for the children who are hurting other children.
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#30 of 60 Old 05-23-2007, 04:03 PM
 
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It's not about the children who are having the issues. It's about the way the adults are dealing with the children who are having the issues. One lesson to be learned in order function is society is that a person doesn't get to hit three people before an intervention.

I'm trying hard to see both sides of this but I can't imagine why a parent whose child is assaulting children and teachers on a daily basis thinks it's rude for other parents to complain about how it's being handled. Obviously, this inclusion isn't working for the children who are hurting other children.
yes. thank you for saying that. exactly what i was trying to say, but couldn't.

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