M.H. asks from Cypress, TX on December 30, 2006
Pre- K 3 Feedback
my son is in Pre-K3 - His report card (yes he received a report card) was very good.
He has good manners, learning is letters,numbers, colors, shapes etc..
However, in December the teacher has stated he has been doing the opposite of what she asks of him. His class has 7 students. I recently sat in his class with him for a few moments and discovered that he only talks about the 3 boys who he does not sit with. So I asked, and the teacher replied the boys he talks about are the "time out" boys. therefore, 4 of the 7 children are time-out boys as of late december.
Since we have a long x-mas break I have been playing with my son - specifically focusing on what playing nice is ( I noticed that he thinks hitting and kicking is normal). So when ever he got too rough I would say that is not how you play nice. The next time I would place him in time out. We also focused on listening and executing an instruction. I developed a new reward system -- which essentially extended x-mas. so with good behavior came a gift he could open. that worked really well. However, I don't want him to become attached to gifts. So we have completed that stage and the past few days he has been doing well - for a 3 year old. Now unless I sit with him in class I am not sure how to get the teacher to receive the same responses from him. I have reinforced the fact that he needs to listen to his teacher. he has responded that "Mommy I want to listen to my teacher" (he came back with that response a few hrs later). when I talked to the teacher I informed her of that as well.
I have thought about moving him since she has stated that she would like him to stay in her class... which i thought might mean he may not be able to stay. I also requested to sit in his class for a series of days before the break. The teacher said lets wait until after the break to see how he does.
I think it is great we are taking a break and I had 2 week off to spend totally with him,family and friends. I just am not sure I am seeing what the teacher sees in my son's behavior at home.
Any advice would be helpful - so far I have found information on big brothers, boy scouts and two recommended books: "Shepherding a Child's Heart" by Tedd Tripp and "The Heart of Anger: Practical Help for the Prevention and Cure of Anger in Children".
My gut tells me that changing schools isn't the answer and I know children go through "Monkey see Monkey do" phases and I know boys are certainly more active than girls but surely there has to be a way to improve the communication between my son and the teacher...
C.A. answers from Houston on December 31, 2006
To be successful in managing behavior, little ones need a positive to negative reinforcment response of 4:1. Is your son in a private pre-K? I can only assume so. I am not sure what the requirements are for teachers in those programs. From what you described, it seems to me that more attention is being paid to what he is not doing right than to what he is doing right. What clues me in to that is there are 4 out of 7 kids known as "time out boys". How tempting is it to be part of the group for a little one? Kids in a group have pack mentality and they develop this quite easily when more attention is being paid to one group over the other. So if the teacher is placing importance on the behavior of the "time out boys" then she is making it appear more attractive for the others to be "one of the guys". I am suprised that a professional teacher has taken this approach. That is why I don't know what her qualifications are that give her a classroom. To be honest, if this is at a day care, I do not think they have to have a teaching certificate in order to "teach". To me, that is one thing you need to be sure of, that adequate training has been done to ensure your son receives an appropriate education. If this is a public school and you still have problems in the next few months, I know someone that can guide you. It is important to have the guidance of someone that works with the schools as early as possible when you are facing a school career and at this age they are attempting to label your child as a trouble maker. Teachers talk and from one grade to the next they will hear in the break room "Little Tommy is such a pain" and when the teacher next year gets little Tommy she already has an opinion about him thereby setting him up for an uphill climb. You have done well by setting up a reward system. You need to start spacing out his rewards from daily to every few days and keep a chart with stickers in between. So many stickers equal a reward. Then over a few weeks increase the quantity of stickers required to receive a reward. Ideally, you should get to the place where he gets a physical reward once a week then every 10 days, then every two weeks and so on. Find out what his reward interval works best at and keep it there. This will take consistency and hard work but it is do-able. If you want someone that is much more experienced than I, let me know and I will put you in contact with her.
W.P. answers from Houston on December 30, 2006
First of all, a little contraryitis is not abnormal at that age, and it will likely soon go away. The bigger deal you make of it, the longer it may go on. I noticed that you were told in December, and you already took action during the break and (before that) sat with him in class. Therefore, his behavior cannot have gone on for too long, at the most a few weeks. I may not understand your exact problem, but a couple of nudges may do more than total control - I'd save that for the big problems down the road.
As to where that behavior could come from:
"(...) the teacher has stated he has been doing the opposite of what she asks of him."
"I have thought about moving him since she has stated that she would like him to stay in her class (...)"
My 2 cents is to relax a little and see how it goes. You seem to have taken care of the hitting problem that way.
R.F. answers from Beaumont on December 30, 2006
How long has your son been in pre-k? That makes a difference too. The longer he's with his teacher, the more she will get to know him and thing's should get better. Good luck M.!
I'm a mother with 4 grown children and a 3year old grandson
J.M. answers from Fort Smith on January 03, 2007
I was a teacher's assistant at a Head Start Preschool for almost 5 years. At age 3 and 4 children are sometimes more distracted by their surroundings. At home your son has your one on one attention and the surroundings are more calm. It sounds like possibly his teacher has given the situation with the "time out boys" more attention thus making it look more appealing to the other children. Mainly children at this age (all ages) will test boundaries. This is something you cannot keep them from doing. To me his behavior sounds normal and almost typical of a "only" child and they are more easily distracted by other children who are disruptive. Your key to any success in parenting and teaching is Consistency. Sounds to me like you are on the right track in trying the reward system. Also the programs you've looked into for extra activity and bonding sounds great for your child and yourself. I'm a firm believer in some type of reward system, as long as it isn't food. Stickers on a behavior chart will work while they are small, especially if you let them put the stickers on by themselves, this could be a way to reward him from a good day at school. Open communication with his teacher and seeking her or his advice on working with your child at home is very helpful as well. Hope I've shed some light on your parenting task. Good parenting!!