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Preschool problems (very long)

1078 Views 14 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  turquoise
DS (4yrs) is in a nice preschool that I really liked until today. I pick up DS from school and the teacher pulls me aside and starts telling me about a problem they had with DS. Here's the story as she relayed it to me with my thoughts in ():

They took all the kids to the bathroom before going outside and DS was taking a really long time so they went to check on him (great they open the door and he's playing submarine in the toilet or picking his nose)

They found out there was a spider in the stall and it was scaring DS so they moved him to a different stall so he could go in peace (oh good, no big deal, no nasty yucky embarrasing preschool stories for me!)

Well, they were waiting for him to finish, he was holding up the whole class's trip to the playground, but somehow - despite this inconvenience HE was causing - they forgot he was in there and went to the playground without him. They got to the playground, realized he wasn't there and went back for him. Turns out he had gone back to the classroom and was sitting in a chair by himself. When they found him he seemed ok until they asked him how he was then he started to cry because he was scared by himself (I'm looking at him and he looks ok, and this whole mess is not quite registering, I'm still thinking "good he didn't do anything wrong" good, happy ending "ok")

It took until I got him to the car to realize that he was by himself for at least 10 minutes (it takes about that long to get all the kids down the hill and across the parking lot to the playground) what if he had decided to go by himself to find them, in the parking lot all alone with cars in and out all the time? What if he had decided to cross the busy street next to the school (on a hill with a blind curve)? What if he had decided to act like a monkey and climb the walls and break his neck? What if, what if, what if?

At first I was thinking "accidents happen, people make mistakes, etc" then the more I thought about it, the less satisfied I was that they realized exactly how big a mistake this was for them. Granted, I was kinda in shock when she was telling me what had happened, so I didn't hollar and yell (I'm usually the overly-forgiving-to-the-point-of-being-stepped-on type), but on the other hand, she didn't once say she or the other teacher were sorry for forgetting my kid!

So I talked it over with DH and I called the school to set up a conference. I won't take DS back until I get some kind of clue that they realize what a mess this could have been and show me that they will be doing something to prevent this from happening again. I would think a head count before going outside and coming back in would be common sense. I also want to know if this has happened before.

Am I going overboard? I kinda want them to put a notice in the school paper so that other parents know what happened too. If you had a kid at school and something like this happened, would you want to know? I don't want to cause too much of a stink, but I also want to make sure that they know this is very bad and help make sure that it doesn't happen again.
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(not to cause undo alarm or trouble but) maybe they got pe'od because he was taking so long and left without him and then are covering their a$$es because he might 'tell' on them
Wow! I can only imagine the what ifs that are going through your mind! How frightening!

This perspective is coming from being in childcare for 10 years.

First, I really doubt they got ticked off at him and left him intentionally, but they may have gotten sidetracks with the other children who may have become restless and no longer were willing to sit quietly while waiting and while monitoring your child and the others, somehow thought he was back with the group and proceded outside. (as a personal note, I count children continuously. Before we go outsie, while we're outside, before coming in, ,and after we get in. I also count them while we are in the classroom throughout the day). BUT, some centers don't do this, which IMO, they should.

Or, if there were more than one teacher, they each might have thought the other had your child. This of course was a lack of communication, and shouldn't have happened either.

Of course both scenarios do not make this situation ok, but might remind you that we are all human, even those who care for children, and even though your provider loves children and repsects them, sometimes, because of the number of children in a persons care, it can become overwhelming, and sometimes a child is not counted. Not because they are not cared for or loved, but because the teacher is overwhelmed.

If you are concenred about your child being able to leave teh center and be injured...

What kind of security does this center have? Is there someone at the front office/desk at all times? How many exits does your center have?

I am really sorry this happened to your child and I hope the conference goes very well and the teachers/staff understand that this is a serious situation and more supervision needs to be given to each child in their care.
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I would definitely be very concerned, to say the least. I used to work in daycare, and I always considered the most important part of my job to be counting heads. At any given moment, you should be able to ask a teacher how many students are in her class, and she should be able to tell you right away how many are there at that very moment and how many are in each section of the room/playground/etc. Counting is especially important as you're moving. The teacher who was holding the door open as the children walked through should have been counting, and it shouldn't have gone any longer than that.

IMHO, there are a lot of mishaps that are understandable when you have a large group of children, but counting is easy and it should be done continuously.

oh, I know things do happen and that we're all human, and that was my first response too, but then I realized that she never even apologized for forgetting him. I think that's my main beef with the situation. If she had been apologetic and reactive saying something like "I'm sorry, we should have done this or that" then I'd feel better right now.

There are 2 teachers for 12-16 kids (can't remember off the top of my head if it was a 1-6 or a 1-8 ratio), so the miss/lack of communication is the probable scenario, but there still should have been a head count. And I know it can be overwhelming at times - heck I get overwhelmed sometimes with just two :LOL so I am very ready to forgive as long as it is a rarety and they treat it as a wake-up call.

There is one exit (that I know of) but no front desk to pass. It's a small church pre-school w/4 classrooms. I know the door locks on outside, but I think it can be opened from the inside....more questions to ask at the conference.

About the parental notice - is that too much to ask? Just something saying that one of the kids got seperated from the group and here are the measures they are taking to make sure it doesn't happen again. If they word it the right way it wouldn't lay blame but will still let parents know that it happened. Is that going overboard?
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I would be completely ticked if the teacher didn't sound or act embarrassed, ashamed, and mortified that she had forgotten a child as well, I just wanted to give some scenarios.

I think you are doing the best thing, not only for your child but for all the children in the care of these people to say, this is NOT acceptable and there needs to be something done about it. Ultimately, they work for you, and need to make sure you continue to be comfortable leaving your child in their care. I definitely think you are justified and not going overboard at all asking for what you have posted about.
ITA with everything Potty said. I also think you are wise to not have your ds return until (if) the issue is cleared up.
This may be slighlty OT, but I'm just curious~ what was the teacher's reason for telling you the story if not to appolgize? Did she want to give you a heads up in case he told you? Did she want to to talk to your son so he didn't dawdle? I think this would make a difference to me in terms of how reassured I was that the school also viewed the incident as unaccaptable and was taking steps to prevent it's reoccurence.
That sort of mistake shuold never happen, but occasionally it does. It's good that they took it seriously enuogh to tell you, even if they didnt sound like they were apologising.

I personally wouldn't take it to other parents, but rather would want to know what system they were going to use in future to make sure it doesnt happen again. I personally don't think that counting heads is enough if you leave the building. I would want a list of names.

Just imagine, they get to the playground and realise that one child is missing. There are 16 children. In a state of panic, how do they know which one is missing? I'd want them to have a system where a list of children is taken to the play area, and hung up on a board, after checking that all the children attending that session are there. And the same thing going back. I'ts not hard to line up a group of children and check off their names against a list.

If they could satisfy me that they had put a new system into place so it couldnt happen again, then I'd take my child back, assuming that I was confident in other aspects of the care.

You'd be surprised how lax the systems, or lack of systems, in many schools are. Taking children out with just a headcount is probably quite common, but imo it is not adequate.

Good luck with your meeting!
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This happened to me in my first year of having my own class.

I felt such a jolt of panic/embarassment/fear/shame that I thought my heart was going to explode right out through my stomach and mouth. The little boy that I left behind was one of my favorites, too, as was his family.

Now, when I finally talked to his mom face to face when she picked him up, I probably seemed very controlled and calm. But that was because it was either that or start crying (like I'd been doing at every break in the teacher's lounge and bathroom). I did apologize, but I doubt that I sounded very apologetic. Luckily for me, the mom and I had gotten to know each other during pick up time (since he was often the last to leave we had time for more chatting than most). So, even though I had my mask on she could tell I was very upset, and asked me what system I would put into place to keep it from happening again, I told her, and then she reached out and gave me a hug and told me that she still trusted me with her son because she knew that I'd never ever do something like that on purpose.

I firmly believe that if it'd been anyone other than her (and heavens bless her for her compassionate and forgiving response!) that I would have quit that day and never taught again, I was so devastated.

Now, I'm not saying that you should do the same hugging (since unless you know your provider well, it's probably not appropriate!). But please know that just because someone may not give the cues you're looking for doesn't mean that they're not mortified. They might just be throwing everything into calmness and control because they don't want to lose it in front of you.

However, I would also go with your gut, and watch closely to make sure they're making the changes they said they would!
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I wouldn't let my child return to that school EVER again. Leaving him behind is unacceptable. You hear about this kind of stuff every year, (a child died in TN because a daycare van driver forgot to check seats before going inside, it was 4 hours later before they counted kids)- he fell asleep and died of heat exposure. Your child did absolutely nothing wrong, it is normal for 4-yr olds to be afraid of spiders and to take a long time to do everything. I really don't think this should ever happen. They need lists with names, they need to pair children up with buddies, they need to fire those two people.
I worked day care for awhile as well. we always had a class list and counted as well..more for 'regulations' than anything (one of us couldnt go on a break or inside/outside for anything unless we were under the count, ect.

The reason I replied as I did the first time, is that she made a point of telling you that they were attentive to your child immediately before this happened, in a way that may have irritated them and I find it hard to accept that after the switching stalls situation, they would just up and leave, forgetting him (especially since she said they were WAITING on him, they must of been conscious of him at that time....)

actually I just read your OP and saw you already said that same thing lol

I tried to be attentive and nice to all the kids there, especially the 'energetic' or more 'time consuming' ones...but alot of the ladies there werent.
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I was a kindergarten teacher before I was a SAHM. I have had 32 kids in my class at one time. And there have been times where a child accidently got left behind. It is very hard for 2 teachers to keep an eye on 32 kids BUT that should have never of happened and it is not an excuse. The teacher should have checked the stalls before they left especially if they knew someone was taking a long time. If I was in that situation (and I have been) I would have taken the rest of the class to the palyground and had my assistant stay behind with the child in the restroom. I can't imagine how your child must have felt being alone in the classroom. I have left a child by accident in the restoom before and have felt horrible about it. And I made sure the parents were apologized to. I know that all kinds of horrible things are running though your head but just remember the teacher is human and she has more than just one child to look after. I know that the time I left the child in the bathroom it made me very aware and I always made sure that I did a count after that. Maybe since this has happened she will be more aware next time. I agree with Tigerchild. The teacher may be devestated and is not showing it. Just make sure that changes will be made and that the teacer will be more careful next time.
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"they need to fire those two people."

As I said in my earlier post, this is not excusable, and there should be better systems in place.

But, as responses from other teachers here show, if every teacher who made a mistake was fired, there'd not be many teachers left in classrooms! Just as if cps were to remove children from parents who made errors in judgement, not many children, if any, would be left in their homes.

Turquoise, let us know what happens!

First it wasn't as bad as I thought it was, I thought they were at the playground before they realized, but really they were just outside the front door in the parking lot. So really it was only like 2 mins he was alone.

The teacher was devistated, she spent her break crying about it the day it happened, and was having a hard time holding back the tears at the meeting. Also, when the head teacher told her that I wouldn't be bringing in Christian back to school until we had a conference she was borderline hysterical blaming herself, crying, etc. It was the first time this had happened to her in 10yrs of teaching. And the last time it had happened in the entire school was 2 yrs ago.

It was poor communication between the teacher and assistant. The assistant was the one that was helping him in the stalls, so the teacher didn't know there was a problem, then the assistant got called over to help with something else in another class real quick. So the teacher was going to start them out on her own and the assistant would be right behind her. She had done her double-check in the bathrooms like she always does (looked for feet in the stalls) and didn't see any, and started out. She had counted heads at the door, but the kids were extra squirmy from waiting, so she accidentaly double counted someone. Then she got to the parking lot and got a funny feeling and counted again. Didn't get a correct count so she counted girls and the girls were ok, then she counted boys, and one was missing. The kids kept saying it was Jack, but she was like "no Jack's right here" so by then the assistant was done and had come out so she sent the assistant back in to check and she found Christian sitting in the chair looking out the window (he could probably hear them outside.)

I guess it's what you could call a comedy of errors. It should never happen, but we are all human, and I understand that trying to get 15 restless preschoolers to the bathroom and out to recess is a lot like hearding cats. I knew in my heart that it wasn't done on purpose (I wouldn't be sending him to this school if I thought the teachers were capable of that). I was just worried because I didn't get the feeling that the teachers took it as seriously as I thought they should. But to their credit, it was the assistant who told me about it durring pick-up (a very hectic time) and she wasn't the one who actually forgot about him so she could handle telling the story better - no tears, etc. I think the teacher asked her to talk to me so that she wouldn't start crying again.

So all's well that ends well. My biggest concern was not as much that it happened at all, but how big a deal it was to the teacher, and how often it happens in the school, and if they have procedures to help prevent it from happening in the future. If the teacher is mortified, and it's very rare for the school then all is as it should be. We are all human, ya know

Oh and about the front door, while it doesn't lock from the inside, my dh had a problem opening it (it's old and sticky) and it makes a terrible squeak when it opens. So DS doesn't have a way out, by material if not by design.

Thanks so much for all of your responses. It really encouraged me to make the push that was due as a parent, and also to maintain a level head and see it from the teacher's point of veiw. Thanks so much!
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