Please help me strategize--kindergarten issues (already!) - Mothering Forums

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Old 08-23-2007, 12:10 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi all.

DS just started kindergarten on Monday and is already having issues .

His teacher has this system of rewards and punishments where they each have an airplane up on the board and if they break one of the class rules, their airplane gets moved down a notch. First notch they get a warning, second notch a timeout, third notch a note home, and fourth notch a phone call home.

There are only four rules: Be a good listener, raise your hand before talking, work quietly, and keep your hands, feet and other objects to yourself.

If your plane stays up in the air all day, you get a sticker. If you get five stickers in a week, you get to choose a small toy out of a treasure box.

DS came home very proud on Monday b/c his plane stayed up in the air. On Tuesday he got a timeout. On Wednesday he got a note home.

The note said DS needs to work on not talking loudly and that he poked the child next to him. It also said he "shouldn't have to get three warnings."

Here's what I've done so far... DS and I talked about what happened--he said several things: All the kids around him were talking loudly (and they all got their plane moved down); he thinks that, even though he was talking, he wasn't very loud and that his plane was unfairly moved down b/c everyone around him was loud; he says his teacher yells at them a lot and that scares him--he's afraid she'll yell at him, though she apparently hasn't done so yet. I talked a little to him about the natural consequences of breaking the rules--the rest of the kids can't hear the teacher when some kids talk loudly; kids who are trying to get work done get distracted by others talking, etc.

I spoke briefly to the teacher, told her we'd reviewed the class rules and talked about the natural consequences. She said she needed to be firm about the rules from day one b/c there's a lot of material they have to cover this year and she can't have behavior problems disrupting the class.

DS sobbed last night b/c Friday's coming and he won't get to do the treasure box. He seemed to feel that getting to the treasure box was an impossible task. I tried to encourage him by reminding him that next week was a brand-new week and he could start again and decide to follow the rules very carefully. We talked about what he could do when other kids are trying to talk to him (like whispering "Shhh, we're not supposed to talk"). But this morning he was very nervous, didn't want to go to school, and just generally was feeling pressured and anxious.

ARRGH. I don't want him to have a terrible first year of school!

My mom, who's a teacher, says that DS processes things by talking about them and that's how he learns. She says a teacher who doesn't allow for processing in this way is not a good match for DS and that I should immediately try to get him changed to a different teacher. She says these sorts of rewards and punishments work very well for children who are naturally quiet and work against children who are not. She was very adamant that I must get him a different teacher immediately (one who has a different system, preferably one whose focus is on keeping the kids busy and engaged) and that if the school refuses to accomodate me, then I should change schools.

Those of you who have BTDT, what do you think? Is my mom right? I have this niggling sense that I need to help DS learn how to function within the rules of any given group that he finds himself in. But then again, if the rules aren't fair and are stacked against him, then maybe that's not what I want to teach him.

I'm really confused and don't know how to move forward. But I do think that if I'm going to change his class (and I don't know a thing about any of the other teachers, so there's no guarantee that he will get someone better), it probably needs to be done now, while it's still the first week of school.

Any and all help and advice is welcome.

TIA,

/laura

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Old 08-23-2007, 12:23 PM
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I have to say that I would agree with your mom, not just because the way she is handling the class and pushing airplanes up and down a board because somebody is talking too loud.
This system of discipline proves to me that she is not able to handle the children!
She should keep the children interested enough and occupied with the curriculum so they stay quite automatically (especially in the first week of school), not by pushing airplanes or stars up and down!
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Old 08-23-2007, 12:28 PM
 
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What a tough situation.

I do agree with your mother though.

I would not be very comfortable with that kind of reward/punishment system being used at such a young age (if at all).

I know my dd would not do very well in that setting either.

While I totally agree that the rules or expectations are pretty reasonable for that age, the teacher needs to go about achieving them a different way.

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Old 08-23-2007, 12:48 PM
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i agree with your mom. there are several different types of learners, and while ideally, your kid should be able to function within a set of rules, that doesn't mean it's going to maximize his actual learning, which is what school should be about at this age.
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Old 08-23-2007, 12:53 PM
 
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I cannot imagine what subject matter this teacher is emphasizing that could possibly be more important than instilling a sense of confidence, security and natural curiosity at this age.

I agree with your mom.
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Old 08-23-2007, 01:24 PM
 
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Well, we're in the same boat here with an obnoxious punishment system. Ours is a stoplight (green=good, yellow=warning, red=stop and note home) and DS HATES it. he's in 1st btw. He is a perfectionist so if the whole class gets their light changed to yellow he is sad and upset the rest of the day. I think he's really struggling with the idea that others can affect what happens to you. At lunchtime it's the same thing, if kids are talking too loudly then EVERYONE has to put their heads down on the table until it's silent. Let's just say that DS is coming home STARVING, same frustrations about being punished as a group.

I don't have suggestions, other than moving teachers if you can. Check to make sure that not all the K teachers are using the same system because in our 1st grade all the team teachers use the same punishment/reward thing.

We're contemplating waiting a few more weeks or going in for a conference soon to see what can be changed. Our son is extremely quiet, good listener, etc. and very sensitive. He is not happy at all with this environment.

Good luck to you!
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Old 08-23-2007, 01:49 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks everyone. After reading all your responses, and talking to an IRL friend who's been through a similar situation, I realize that I also agree with my mom and am just nervous about how to proceed. I'm not great with confrontation and am hoping to find a way to advocate for my son without getting too confrontational if possible. Given that I'm 8 mths pregnant, I'm afraid confrontation will cause me to burst into tears...

So now my question is: should I go to the principal today and try to get the teacher changed? Or should I first ask for a conference with the teacher and try to get a sense of how flexible she is in trying to help DS succeed within her class?

I wonder if having a conference with her first would give me more leverage in trying to get his class changed? Or am I just wasting my time?

Thanks.

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Old 08-23-2007, 02:09 PM
 
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I'll have to say as a former teacher, are you sure teh other teachers aren't using the same system? It was very common when I was teaching, and it was what we were "supposed" to do. Warning, then some kind of action (take away some recess or whatever) and then note home. We also had fruit on trees or airplanes in the sky or traffic lights. I would bet the other K teachers are using the same system (or something very simmilar).

I would talk to them about the degree though. Where we were the warning and no warning were teh same at the end of the day (as far as prizes or whatever). So a child who had a warning or a perfect day got the same reward, everyone gets a free mess up per day. I think requiring Ks to have 5 perfect days out of 5 or miss a prize is very extreme.

Usually I would say go to the teacher first, but in this case I would go to the principal and not waste time. If you want to move him it's only going to be harder as the year goes on, and if this is the system used by all the classes you need to decide if you think the teacher is also a bad match (which case I woudl try to move him) or if you are just going to have to deal with this particular system. I woudl talk to the teacher about requiring perfection though (if the principal won't move you). It seems a bit much have have Ks lose their prize for one mess up (not to mention it makes her job harder, if they lose teh prize on Monday what is their motivation to do well on Tuesday?)

I am not saying this is a good system or I think it's appriate all the time, I'm jsut saying when I was teaching it was *very* common, esp. in the K - 2 crowd.

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Old 08-23-2007, 02:18 PM
 
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I'll have to say as a former teacher, are you sure teh other teachers aren't using the same system?
:

I'd definitely talk to the teacher first. Schools are very small closeknit communities & I'd hate to see you compound an already stressful situation. Maybe you and ds and teacher can sit and have a meeting and brainstorm ideas.

I do individual rewards, too, but they move at their own pace; ie. when they fill in THEIR own card, they get to choose a prize. I do think the Friday rule is punitive; ie. if you mess up Tues, well...feel free to mess up the rest of the week, too, as it's already shot.
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Old 08-23-2007, 02:42 PM
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Oh my goodness,...what has happened to schools!!!
How can a system of punishment and reward like this work??? No wonder the kids barely learn anything, especially when they are constantly nervous or scarred going to school!

I am sorry to say this Cathi, but your schools system is even worse!!! What the heck..., are we introducing militaristic punishment methods into the schools now as well? In the military everybody in that unit used to get punished if one would mess up, now they apply this system to small children???
I would immediately remove my child from a school like that, how awful!
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Old 08-23-2007, 02:50 PM
 
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Oh my goodness,...what has happened to schools!!!
How can a system of punishment and reward like this work??? No wonder the kids barely learn anything, especially when they are constantly nervous or scarred going to school!

I am sorry to say this Cathi, but your schools system is even worse!!! What the heck..., are we introducing militaristic punishment methods into the schools now as well? In the military everybody in that unit used to get punished if one would mess up, now they apply this system to small children???
I would immediately remove my child from a school like that, how awful!

Well, to be fair, it is a charter school that is excellent academically. BUT, DH and I are definitely going in to speak with his teacher next week. We have only heard DS' side of the story and 6 year olds don't always see the whole picture. We read her letter to parents though and the reward system IS a bit strict in my opinion. The lunch situation is being handled by "parent volunteers" and I'm hearing that one old lady in particular is mean to the kids. Uh uh, not happening. I think it's ridiculous that 6 year olds are talking at lunch and being PUNISHED for it. You expect them to sit quietly ALL day? Bogus. I'm going to volunteer next week at 3 days of lunchtime so I can see for myself what goes on before storming the gates so to speak.

But yes, rewarding with toys is bugging me. :
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Old 08-23-2007, 02:52 PM
 
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I just wanted to reply b/c my child's Kindergarten teacher uses a similar system (green light, yellow light, red light) but there is a reward when they fill up their card w/a certain amt. of stickers so it isn't every week. I don't like it but I've gotten used to it (my dd is in 3rd grade but my ds started Kindergarten this week and they still use the same system). It worked pretty well w/my dd b/c it wasn't hard for her to sit still, etc. but I'm not sure how my ds (very physical) will respond.

I hate all of the punitive-type "stuff" they use at school and it really bothers me that being "quiet" is the ideal. Part of the problem is that the teachers have so much they have to teach them that they don't have enough time to just talk, play, etc. I struggle with this a lot but I made the decision not to homeschool so...not much I can do b/c quite honestly I haven't found a school that isn't set up this way to some extent. I have to say though that I bet ALL of the kindergarten teachers at your child's school are using a similar system. What I found with dd was that they are much more strict in the beginning of the year. HTH..good luck.
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Old 08-23-2007, 03:08 PM
 
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I don't know. I really don't see a problem with it I guess. I would have loved this type of punishment reward system as a child. When I was in school, the teacher would send kids out into the hall, eventually the principal came back and paddled them. I like this system a whole lot better. Is it perfect, no, but the teachers have to do something to try to keep order in the classroom.
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Old 08-23-2007, 03:24 PM
 
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My son's class last year had a very similar reward/punishment system. I hated it! I keep looking back to when I was a kid and I don't recall anything of the sort. My son's preschool managed to have 20 kids and 2 adults and no system like that- and they did just fine.

My son is a quiet kid who has no problem following the rules, so he came home every week with some piece of crap from the treasure box. Other kids would be in tears. It was so easy for him and he was being rewarded for just being the way he is, while other kids were being punished, but not necessarily helped, for their behavior issues.

I don't really have any answers though, I'm sure it's very hard to manage a large group of kids. This year my son is in a small charter school and there is no system like this. I know the teacher still has to deal with behavior issues, but I'm thankful she doesn't use a system like this.

I agree though that it might be a school-wide practice. My son's old school uses lots and lots of this. The junk for the treasure box was even listed as a school supply for each class.
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Old 08-23-2007, 04:53 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Today he got time out again. The first warning was for talking too loudly (he hasn't given me any more info than that). But then the second, the timeout, was for allegedly throwing his pencil! He's very indignant b/c he says the pencil fell out of his hand and rolled, but his teacher didn't see that and just thought he threw it. Apparently, even the little girl next to him piped up and said the pencil rolled, but he still got timeout.

And then he said that later the teacher said to the class in general (not to him specifically) "Don't cry if you don't get a treasure tomorrow."

Um, excuse me?!!! Who talks to kindergarteners that way?!

I will ask for a conference with her, but I'm losing hope that this situation can be salvaged. I'll most likely be at the office afterwards trying to change his teacher.

He did say that only one or two people have enough stars for a treasure, anyway, so it sounds to me like her system is backfiring on her already.

I've never encountered such a negative way of trying to get cooperation from little ones!

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Old 08-23-2007, 04:56 PM
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My son's class last year had a very similar reward/punishment system. I hated it! I keep looking back to when I was a kid and I don't recall anything of the sort. My son's preschool managed to have 20 kids and 2 adults and no system like that- and they did just fine.

My son is a quiet kid who has no problem following the rules, so he came home every week with some piece of crap from the treasure box. Other kids would be in tears. It was so easy for him and he was being rewarded for just being the way he is, while other kids were being punished, but not necessarily helped, for their behavior issues.
:
This is EXACTLY my point! Why reward somebody for something that comes natural and punish a child that has a physical/ mental problem with it (basically is not ready yet to be "perfect"), rather than trying to help him or her. Children develop at different levels, to just be plain picky with each child and to expect perfect behavior out of 30 children is ridiculous!

So, HOW did OUR teachers manage??? Let's think back, hmm.... and I do not mean the times of corporal punishment now db1au!
We never had corporal punishment at my school, but our teachers always managed to handle their class and teach them! We had one teacher, for a year, that was not able to handle our class and other classes well either, HE was the one punished and not the children, he got laid off.

Maybe the school boards should ask some more experienced teachers for their methods!

Sorry to hear that LauraN, poor baby!
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Old 08-23-2007, 04:59 PM
 
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This thread makes me so glad my son's teacher is a fan of Alfie Kohn.
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Old 08-23-2007, 05:00 PM
 
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In fact, maybe you should buy a copy of "Punished By Rewards" as a gift for his teacher.
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Old 08-23-2007, 05:04 PM
 
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So, HOW did OUR teachers manage??? Let's think back, hmm....
Ah, never mind...string 'em up.
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Old 08-23-2007, 05:09 PM
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Hi all.


The note said DS needs to work on not talking loudly and that he poked the child next to him. It also said he "shouldn't have to get three warnings."

Here's what I've done so far... DS and I talked about what happened--he said several things: All the kids around him were talking loudly (and they all got their plane moved down); he thinks that, even though he was talking, he wasn't very loud and that his plane was unfairly moved down b/c everyone around him was loud; he says his teacher yells at them a lot and that scares him--he's afraid she'll yell at him, though she apparently hasn't done so yet.
So far, at least, this teacher does not sound unreasonable. It sounds like she has a few clear, specific rules that are reasonable for this age; it sounds as if she is being fair and not singling out one person (all planes were moved down). I disagree with your son's assessment of his own behavior here -- whether he "wasn't very loud" is less the issue than the fact that he was also contributing to the noise at the time it was a problem. It's sometimes hard to assess how loud our voice is when others around us are being loud and it would not surprise me if your son had raised his voice in order to be heard. The teacher yelling at them is not surprising -- how else is she going to be heard over the voices of other people?

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I talked a little to him about the natural consequences of breaking the rules--the rest of the kids can't hear the teacher when some kids talk loudly; kids who are trying to get work done get distracted by others talking, etc.

I spoke briefly to the teacher, told her we'd reviewed the class rules and talked about the natural consequences. She said she needed to be firm about the rules from day one b/c there's a lot of material they have to cover this year and she can't have behavior problems disrupting the class.

DS sobbed last night b/c Friday's coming and he won't get to do the treasure box. He seemed to feel that getting to the treasure box was an impossible task. I tried to encourage him by reminding him that next week was a brand-new week and he could start again and decide to follow the rules very carefully. We talked about what he could do when other kids are trying to talk to him (like whispering "Shhh, we're not supposed to talk"). But this morning he was very nervous, didn't want to go to school, and just generally was feeling pressured and anxious.

ARRGH. I don't want him to have a terrible first year of school!
With all due respect, this is the first week. He hasn't gotten a little toy. Honestly, this is by no means the end of the world. He sounds like he's a conscientious person and I'm sure things will get better when he acclimates.
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My mom, who's a teacher, says that DS processes things by talking about them and that's how he learns. She says a teacher who doesn't allow for processing in this way is not a good match for DS and that I should immediately try to get him changed to a different teacher.
Are you sure he was "processing," or was he just talking/talking loudly about non-academic stuff?

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Those of you who have BTDT, what do you think? Is my mom right? I have this niggling sense that I need to help DS learn how to function within the rules of any given group that he finds himself in. But then again, if the rules aren't fair and are stacked against him, then maybe that's not what I want to teach him.
Frankly, it sounds like the rules ARE fair and are NOT stacked against him. I am not a fan of reward/punish systems of discipline, but for most kids most of the time, they work reasonably well. It sounds like the teacher is being pretty even-handed and clear here. Really, I'd be happy to come in on your side because though I'm a teacher, I tend to be very anti-education, but I can't make any mountains out of this molehill.
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Old 08-23-2007, 05:21 PM
 
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So, HOW did OUR teachers manage??? Let's think back, hmm....
Uhm - I remember this system from when I was in first grade. This is not new - I'm 28. I'd say that yes, I learned to be quiet. I'll also say that in spite if being a very good student, good listener, etc - I hated school (until college). I'll be homeschooling my dd. I'm not saying this to start a ps/hs debate, nor do I blame my dislike of school on the stupid treasure box - I am saying that it is worth while to find an arrangement that works for your child - that fitting a square peg into a round hole may not work initially - but with enough pressure it will eventually work.

Good luck - I hope that there are teachers in that school to choose from who work a little differently.
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Old 08-23-2007, 05:44 PM - Thread Starter
 
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So far, at least, this teacher does not sound unreasonable. It sounds like she has a few clear, specific rules that are reasonable for this age; it sounds as if she is being fair and not singling out one person (all planes were moved down). I disagree with your son's assessment of his own behavior here -- whether he "wasn't very loud" is less the issue than the fact that he was also contributing to the noise at the time it was a problem. It's sometimes hard to assess how loud our voice is when others around us are being loud and it would not surprise me if your son had raised his voice in order to be heard. The teacher yelling at them is not surprising -- how else is she going to be heard over the voices of other people?
It's interesting, Meg, that these are the things I said to my son--the teacher has to talk loudly in order to be heard, sometimes when we're talking with others who are loud, we don't realize how loud we are being, etc.

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Are you sure he was "processing," or was he just talking/talking loudly about non-academic stuff?
Frankly, I don't see a big distinction here. It's the first few days of school, he's learning about the children around him, figuring out who he has things in common with, etc. (I don't know exactly what he was talking about, I'm just guessing here). The things he is learning and processing may not be strictly academic, but I think it's a little extreme to expect a bunch of 5 yr-olds to be quiet at all times, particularly in the first few days of school.

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Frankly, it sounds like the rules ARE fair and are NOT stacked against him. I am not a fan of reward/punish systems of discipline, but for most kids most of the time, they work reasonably well. It sounds like the teacher is being pretty even-handed and clear here. Really, I'd be happy to come in on your side because though I'm a teacher, I tend to be very anti-education, but I can't make any mountains out of this molehill.
The thing is, though, that out of a class of 24 kids, only 2 or 3 are getting rewarded this week. I don't think that indicates that her system is working for most kids most of the time.

And to clarify--though we don't use rewards and punishments at home, as long as he's in school, I know we can expect that those systems will be in place, so we might as well learn to function within them. But my issue is more with the teacher than the system.

In the few conversations I've had with her, and the things my son has said (leaving ample room for a 5-yr-old interpretation of his own role here), I get the feeling that she is extremely rigid and controlling and doesn't have a system in place for engaging her students and keeping them occupied. Without that, I think it's unreasonable to expect a classroom full of five year olds to sit still, listen and work quietly all day long.

So in switching to a different class, what I'm looking for is not an absence of such a reward system (though that would be my ideal, I don't really believe it exists within this school system), but instead a teacher who has better command of her class and can therefore be a little more flexible in her application of the system.

FWIW, I disagree that punishments and rewards work for most children most of the time. I think they work for some children most of the time, and for some children never. My son is not at all motivated by rewards, but instead by a sense of accomplishment. In fact, I think he doesn't have the ability or maturity to grasp the connection between his behavior on Monday and a reward on Friday. My mom says her middle schoolers can't always make that leap.

And I see (because I've observed it in my DH and my brother) that consistently failing to achieve the rewards can wreak havoc on a child's self-image. My son is simply not capable of sitting still and quiet for long stretches of time. And no amount of punishment is going to make him develop that maturity. So I need to make sure that my son has a teacher with whom I can work to help him be successful, not one who is rigid in her application of her system and unwilling to account for individual differences in personality and styles of learning.

Anyway, thanks for your post--I'm reading it over and over because it is helping me to formulate what I want to say to the teacher. I want to have a positive conversation and leave lots of room for us to be able to cooperate on this. I hope to treat this as a molehill in my conversation with her, and get a sense of whether we can move forward together.

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Old 08-23-2007, 06:00 PM
 
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Don't be surprised if they refuse to change teachers. Many schools (public, private, charter) won't do it at all because it sets a precedent - "you switched A to another room and I want B switched too."

Kids have to learn to function wherever they are at, which is not to say this teacher sounds as though she is using her system a bit harshly.

Does she have an aid in the room? Are parents welcome to come in and help? Maybe you can get involved in the classroom that way.

ETA: I just read your post above mine. Why is she the only teacher with a class of 24 kids at a charter school?? That's what I'd expect from a public school.

Rewards aren't supposed to work for most kids, most of the time. They're supposed to work for some kids, most of the time and other kids some of the time. I bet as the year goes on - even next week - there will be more kids with their airplane staying up all morning and getting prizes at the end of the day. It's a new system for everyone and this week, yes, only the naturally quiet kids are going to get a prize.

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Old 08-23-2007, 06:03 PM
 
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...And I see (because I've observed it in my DH and my brother) that consistently failing to achieve the rewards can wreak havoc on a child's self-image. My son is simply not capable of sitting still and quiet for long stretches of time. And no amount of punishment is going to make him develop that maturity..
And it's not just a failure of rewards. Your son is being shamed and punished here, with yelling and with time outs.

I fear the damage he is sustaining far outweighs any educational objective that the classroom can provide at this point.
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Old 08-23-2007, 06:05 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Uhm - I remember this system from when I was in first grade. This is not new - I'm 28. I'd say that yes, I learned to be quiet. I'll also say that in spite if being a very good student, good listener, etc - I hated school (until college).
Yes, I remember systems like this as well, and I'm 36. I remember that I thrived under these systems because I was naturally timid and quiet and so it was easy for me to get the rewards. I also remember, though, that those kids who couldn't--didn't have the maturity or the ability for whatever reason--were quickly labeled as "problems" and were never allowed to be successful.

In fact, my DH was one of those "problem" kids. He is extremely intelligent, always got B's without ever cracking a book, and was always tutoring other kids (or helping them cheat) b/c the material was so easy for him. But he was also always in trouble, called lazy and difficult, and so he learned to believe that about himself.

He was actually astounded when his professors in college adored him. He couldn't believe that he could be successful in a classroom setting, that he could enjoy writing papers and doing research. Because it was always so fraught with negativity in school, he never realized how fun academics could be in the absence of constant pressure and negativity.

DH has a LOT of energy. Maybe even hyperactivity. I'm a slow eater, and try as he might, he can't force himself to sit at the table while I finish. He has to hop up, do the dishes, etc. But when he's engaged in something that is interesting to him, he gives it undivided attention for hours.

DS is the same way, and I think my life's struggle is going to be helping him find teachers who can see the positive in that.

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Old 08-23-2007, 09:09 PM
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And it's not just a failure of rewards. Your son is being shamed and punished here, with yelling and with time outs.

I fear the damage he is sustaining far outweighs any educational objective that the classroom can provide at this point.
I totally agree with this and this would be the reason why I do not allow ANYBODY to treat my child like this! Especially not a teacher who is in charge of my child's welfare for half a day, five days a week. What I do not understand is that this system is accepted and even encouraged?
I guess I was posting this question about "what our teachers used to do" wrongly, as I did not know a system like this until this board, but it seems to have been implemented since a long time here in the US.
I guess it is specific to the US.
I heard that a few schools have started to adapt this system in Europe as well, specifically the UK I think, but when I used to go to school this was definitely not the case!
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Old 08-23-2007, 10:21 PM
 
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Another teacher here, weighing in. Okay, to be fair, I teach high school, but I have a lot of friends in lower elementary. In defense of the teacher, lots of people are saying that "Today's Kindy is the new 1st or even 2nd grade." Programs like No Child Left Behind (And others...) require a ton of testing and benchmarks throughout the year. Kindergarten teachers are under a lot of pressure to get through extensive curriculum and numerous standardized tests. With 20+ kids, she's probably trying to be as efficient as possible with behavior issues. When my grandmother taught Kindergarten, kids had to spell their names, recite their address and phone number, and cut out different shapes with scissors!! That was it! It's a little different now...

In defense of you and your son, there are lots of other ways to handle behavior. A dear friend of mine teaches young-5's and in my many observations of her working with large groups of children, I have never heard her raise her voice (Seriously!!), she has never used bribes (Just gentle, if firm, reminders of the rules, always with a cheerful, "Thank you!") and she has several techniques for getting and keeping children's attention that always amaze me. She may be especially gifted for working with small children, but that doesn't mean this teacher can't try something new or that another teacher couldn't do a better job.

Being a teacher is an extremely demanding job, but I think MOST teachers want their students to ENJOY school and have good experiences. You should expect that and the teacher should be willing to work with you on that. Give it a few more weeks? Good luck!
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Old 08-23-2007, 11:20 PM - Thread Starter
 
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What I do not understand is that this system is accepted and even encouraged?
I certainly don't encourage it, though as long as I have my child in public school, I don't think I have a lot of choice but to accept it. Beyond joining the PTA and trying to bring about change within the system (which is like moving a mountain, frankly), I don't see what else I can do besides advocate for my child and try to get him less rigid teachers. I suspect these systems are put in place by overworked, underpaid administrators who are trying, as a PP said, to meet all sorts of federal and state requirements while losing budget money every time they turn around. The thing is, DS's school is ranked A+ in the Miami school system.


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I guess I was posting this question about "what our teachers used to do" wrongly, as I did not know a system like this until this board, but it seems to have been implemented since a long time here in the US.
I guess it is specific to the US.
FWIW, I went to school in Mexico City, and DH grew up in Lebanon. So I don't think it's specific to the U.S. at all.

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Old 08-23-2007, 11:23 PM - Thread Starter
 
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In defense of you and your son, there are lots of other ways to handle behavior. A dear friend of mine teaches young-5's and in my many observations of her working with large groups of children, I have never heard her raise her voice (Seriously!!), she has never used bribes (Just gentle, if firm, reminders of the rules, always with a cheerful, "Thank you!") and she has several techniques for getting and keeping children's attention that always amaze me.
Elastagirl: this is the kind of teacher my mom is, too (she's one of the few teachers I've ever heard say that she LOVES teaching 6th and 7th graders) which is why she is so adamant that I find someone similar for my son. She has very little patience with teachers who just teach by rote and don't bring any creativity into the management of classroom behavior.

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Old 08-23-2007, 11:42 PM - Thread Starter
 
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To everyone who has responded: I am really digging this conversation. Thanks so much. It's helping me so much to really figure out what steps I need to take.

I think the first thing I will do is meet with DS's teacher and ask a lot of questions about how her system works and how it has panned out in past years. Then I will mention to her about DS's energy and how difficult it is for him to reign in his enthusiasm, and suggest some ways to head him off at the pass if his talking becomes disruptive (like getting him engaged in another activity--perhaps handing out or collecting papers, or some other task that would be helpful to her while giving him something else to do.)

I'll let her know how it will really affect his self-image if he never is able to make it to the reward and try to engage her in a conversation about how to best help him get there.

I will mention that he is very sensitive to loud voices since we don't often yell in our home and --without accusing her of yelling, since I only have DS's word on this-- suggest that he responds best to firm but gentle words.

If she doesn't seem open to working with me at all, doesn't have suggestions of her own, or flat out refuses to consider doing something a bit differently, then I'll go to the administration and try to get his class changed. My mom says (now she's in GA and I'm in FL, so things might be a bit different for me) that parents really do have a lot more power than we're led to believe and that a little firmness and refusal to backdown can go a long way. Plus, I already know of one child whose class was changed, so I can always fall back on the "precedent already set" argument.

Thanks again for all your help and comments. Keep them coming!

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