Problems in Kindergarten (Possibly with Teacher)

Updated on September 05, 2014
L.B. asks from Gurnee, IL
25 answers

So here is a little background on my situation....I have a 5 year old who has always loved and thrived at preschool who was very, very excited to start kindergarten. One of the policies of our school is that after the kindergarten teachers are assigned they are to call each one of the parents, introduce themselves and also talk to the child (there are 20-22 kids per class and they have 3 days to do make the call). As a first time parent of a kindergartener we were very much looking forward to her call. She never called...I had to call the school and ask who his teacher was the day before orientation to find out who his teacher was (I also verified that the phone # was correct)... to say I was a little irritated is putting it mildly especially as there was a Facebook page set up for new kindergarteners of the school and all of the parents were posting there teachers names so I know all the other kids got a call. Anyways, we went to orientation and she barely acknowledged me or my child (husband was out of town on business) but I didn't want to cause an issue so I didn't say anything and figured that all would be fine. I was totally wrong. The first day of school my son had a complete melt down at drop off and did not want me to leave. This is my first experience at this type of reaction as at preschool he was always fine (even when we moved states and he had to start a new preschool he didn't behave like this)- maybe I am wrong in assuming this but I had thought that the teacher would help me out in wanting him to stay in school as he was screaming and would not let go of me. She refused to make eye contact with me, ignoring the situation and going over to talk to other students. I finally loudly said to her, "I don't know what to do, should I just leave?" And she said "yes" turned her back and walked away as he was clinging to my leg, I finally walked over to her again and took him off m leg and walked out, thinking it would have to resolve itself. When I picked him up that day he seemed better and said that the guidance counselor came and sat with him most if the morning but at recess he walked around by himself because he has no friends (for some reason the school split up the kids he went to preschool with into other classes). Second day same thing only this time I asked her if I should be concerned about his behavior, to which she replied a simple "no". Third day I told him that the only way I could walk into class with him to hang up his backpack in his cubby is if he wasn't crying- that worked and he seemed ok the third and fourth days only still putting up a fight first thing in the morning that he didn't want to go to school. Fifth day of school is like the first all over again only this time he will not stay in the classroom and is running after me out the hall. I am now really annoyed at his teacher because as he starts crying she turns her back and walks away and pays no attention that he is running out of her class after me. I go back to the classroom and leave him there crying. When I pick him up I ask him how school is and he says he doesn't like it and he never wants to go back. My husband and I pry and pry and finally he tells us that after I leave his teacher says that he has to stop crying or she is going to send him to the principal- he says that she has said this to him every day he has cried (apparently he whined to and she told him he would go to the principal for that also). I now do not know what to I let this play out and see what happens next week? do I contact the guidance counselor and tell her my concerns about the teacher not being a good fit for my child due to her coldness? Or do I contact her directly and ask her what does she want me to do? This is her second year teaching and I do not want to make waves with he school but I do not want my child to hate school because he has a kindergarten teacher that he doesn't connect with. Any advice is greatly appreciated!
***Edited: for those who are asking about Open House- at our school kinder is not invited to Open House. They have a Kinder AM orientation where you drop off your child with their teacher for 1 hour and adults go to the cafeteria for a presentation by the Vice-principal and principle on school policies, buses etc. after an hour you pick up your child (and school shirt) and leave. From my understanding from the other parents at the school, the phone call is supposed to be the meet and greet- now maybe we were for some reason overlooked or the teacher crossed us off her list and forgot she didn't call us, either way it did not lead to a great 1st impression by my husband and I. As to caving in to his needs and letting him cling, I am trying not to do that- but as a first time parent of a kindergartner, if the teacher turns her back, I leave the class and my child runs after me- who is watching my child and should bring him back to class? I understand that they are 20 other kids In the room and I understand that she can't focus her sole attention on just my child- but I also know that his classroom is right near he exit door and I don't want him taking off school property with no one watching him.

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answers from St. Louis on

Because he didn't want to go even before he set foot in the classroom I don't think the teacher is the problem.

I don't mean this as a dig but having four kids go through kindergarten it is the parents that are scared that have the kids that don't want to go. Kids are so much smarter than some parents give them credit for. They pick up on our fears like little sponges. I suppose this is why I laugh at comments like small children lack empathy. They survive via empathy, they don't understand what their feelings mean yet.

I digress...

I don't think the teacher is doing a good job of explaining this to you. That is on her. You need to chill. Stop obsession about a phone call, stop worrying that he is going to hate school or fail to ever enjoy it. Relax and go in with the attitude this is going to be the best day of his life and tomorrow will be even better!! Ask him about what the other kids are doing, did you do any art, is the playground cool!? Change your attitude and his will change. Kindergarten is cool!

14 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I think a large part of the problem is that you have allowed your feelings about the non-phone call and your negative feelings toward to teacher to be realized by your child.

You invested too much energy (and you still are) being "irritated" with the teacher, deciding for yourself that she is "cold" and your child has picked up on that... Now add those fears to the NORMAL fears of starting K.

I've been in the classroom 14yrs and I have never heard of a policy where the teacher calls the parents and talks. We always have an Open House on Friday before school starts on Monday.

The teacher is doing her job because if she stops what she is doing with the other 20 or so students to tend to your son (1 student) then your son will expect her to be holding his hand all day. Teachers can't do that. Part of the looking the other way is to help the child realize that the tantrum is not going anywhere for extra attention. Sometimes we do have assistants in the room who will help re-direct children who are upset but you can't sit and hold them all day.. this is school.. NOT preschool and there is a difference.

It is very normal for children who were just fine with preschool to go through an emotional change with Kinder. YOU have to be upbeat, positive, talk about the fun things and keep your secret feelings to yourself without showing your fear or judgment toward anyone.

In Kinder, the students basically learn the ropes of school, structured routine, centers, stations, sitting quietly when needed to listen to librarian, counselor, etc. There is a lot going on and it can be overwhelming to a child.

Your child knows he is getting to you by his antics. He is getting attention from everyone who looks his way, although is it negative.

Just because he is having a little trouble adjusting, (I am sure he is not the only one), does not mean he will have a horrible year of school and have no friends. The first couple weeks can be tough for some and many times, those children who fought tooth and nail to hang onto mommy's leg are the ones who end up having the best year and LOVE their teacher.

If you feel you can't give it time, instead of going to the principal and throwing the teacher under the bus (yes, principal will believe that is what you are doing) communicate with the teacher. Make an appointment to sit down with her during her planning time or after school ALONE and just talk about kinder, what to expect and get to know her. Just because your child is having a tough time, does not make his teacher a cold hearted teacher.

I can say at leas in our elementary which is highly rated, the teachers are hand picked and the principal has the best. I am sure your principal chose the best fit for your school as well. Also, don't have expectations for your child's friends to always be in his class. Separation of friends in the classroom often help students make more friends.. ALL classes are together for recess, lunch and PE.

Good luck, I know you are frustrated because I see mom's like you and I am sorry because I know it hurts you to be letting go when your child appears unhappy. He will adjust. Hang in there.

14 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I have read the answers below and agree with the majority of them. I also noticed that your last question was about the preschool teacher your son had.... one of the things you mentioned specifically was that your son really had a hard time with wanting the teacher to focus solely on him.

That's going to be nigh near impossible with that many kids.

I have to agree with others who state that, many times, a parent's anxieties about the teacher and their child's experience will profoundly impact the child, who already has their own feelings to deal with. When the parent is projecting uncertainty, the kids can pick up on this. From your previous post, I wonder if your son's discomfort is hard for you to sit with.

Personally, if it were my child who ran out of the classroom-- and he has, by the way-- that action is *always* met with my bringing him back to the teacher and scolding him. He MUST be in the classroom and stay in the classroom when I leave. No matter what. It is UNSAFE for him to run out. This is something that I don't mess around with-- the second time it happened, he lost privileges that evening (no tv/computer time). Not because I am a heartless parent, but because it is my job to support the teacher-- and I know she can't leave the classroom to go after him, and I think it would be irresponsible of me to leave this as *her* problem; I am the parent, I set the tone for expectations far more than the teacher can in that moment. He knows I *expect* him to follow the rules, stay safe, etc. I don't make that part of my parenting the teacher's problem.

I think you have some feelings or beliefs which need examining. Please schedule time with the teacher outside of regular school hours and let her know that you want to check in. Ask her questions: "How can I help my son transition into the classroom?" "What do you see works for you in helping my son to calm down?" Etc. Find out if she has any ideas. When I was teaching preschool, we had an NAEYC pamphlet we might give to parents regarding saying goodbyes: do them quickly and confidently. If we linger, we can give our kids the impression that we are worried they can't handle it, which does undermine their confidence. "This is your classroom, I love you , have a great day!" Then leave. Once he realizes that you aren't going to stick around and watch the water works, he'll stop doing it.

I also want to say that it comes across that you have a lot of unmet expectations. It seems that you anticipated that he would be placed with preschool playmates and that he would have a teacher who would be warm: I found that our kindergarten teacher was *very* warm with the kids when it was appropriate; the first few weeks,though, she was working to help the children learn the new routine, learn the rules, learn the 'order' of kindergarten. That's not a time for warm fuzzies, it's a time to introduce expectations, establish some structure and help all the kids understand how to 'be' in a K class. Can you imagine if the teacher stops and holds your kid on her lap and then doesn't with someone else's kid? Then there will be other parents wondering why their kid isn't being attended to in this way.

Try to see the big picture here. Don't let your fears get in the way of your son learning to enjoy school. Honestly, our first few months of K were hard for our family. Our son did well at school for the most part, and acted out at home for us. That was difficult, but I knew he just needed an adjustment period and was glad he saved the meltdowns for home, and just kept reminding him that some things are hard at first and they do get better. And that I KNEW he could do it. :)

11 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Your son's meltdown is normal. Starting KIndergarten is a big change. I also suggest your negative feelings added to your son's fear. I suggest you are over thinking this, making it into a big deal. I urge you to ask to talk with her. I'd ask for an appointment so you can air all your thoughts. Do present your thoughts in a positive way, asking questions, and being willing to understand this from her viewpoint.

Know that she did not purposely leave you out. Her goal is to give your child a positive, successful school experience. Work on learning how to not take such situations personally. You are just one of 20-25 parents. She doesn't even know you. Expect a good conversation with her be non- judgemental s you ask for information and it will be.

10 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

Mom, you set the tone for your child. I know it is so very hard for parents to let go of a crying child. As moms we learn to be tough on the outside and freaked out on the inside. You will do this even when they are leaving for college and searching for their first real job.. That is where we are and yes, It feels exactly like the first day of kindergarten!

If you are nervous and anxious, your child will pick up on that. If you have preconceived ideas, you can really pass that along to your child.

Your job is to be POSITIVE your son is going to be just fine. That he IS prepared to attend school. And that he will succeed.

Sure there is always a child or 2 that cries the first day, maybe even week. You are the one that needs to tell your son, "honey, you are going to have a good day. You are going to make friends."

Your preconceived ideas? No, they do not try to keep the kids that know each other together, it is actually the opposite. They try to make sure the child is matched with the correct teacher for the child. Maybe they felt this teacher that was not going to baby your son was perfect for him.

When a child is crying at drop off, the best thing to do is give him a hug, tell him you know he is going to have a good day and you will see him at the end of the day and then leave.

You do not stay there petting and hugging him, expecting the teacher to take him from you. You place him in the classroom and leave.

Look around the class at drop off, how many kids are still crying a clingy? Is it only your child? Go to the other classes and see how many kindergartners are still weepy at drop off. There may be a few, but a very few.

Worried about students taking off from campus? Ask the Principal how many times that has happened in the last 5 years. Keep that in mind.

He is not a baby any more, he is a little boy, that should know how to behave, how to ask for help. "Use your words" is what you teach him, so he can learn to speak up for himself.

There are good picture story books about going back to school, purchase some or check some out from the library and read them to him.
This is a really good one for your situation, "The Kissing Hand"
(Chester the Raccoon #1)
by Audrey Penn, Ruth E. Harper (Illustrator), Nancy M. Leak (Illustrator)

I am sending you strength!

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

I think that you got started off on the wrong foot with your expectations in the first place - the last thing you do is tell a child that a teacher will call on the phone, just because you think it's tradition. If you had said nothing, he would never have known. Ditto the facebook thing. I know that you are disappointed, but it's not an issue for children because this is not a usual practice by teachers of any grade...

I do agree that the teacher is trying to ignore inappropriate behavior. I don't agree that she is using the right strategy with your son. She comes across as uncaring and aloof to your child, and for this reason alone, you should ask for a meeting with her and the guidance counselor together. It won't help your cause to tell her this, but you can say "Johnny thinks you don't like him. He was so looking forward to coming to school, but he hates it. Can you help him rather than threaten to send him to the principal?"

Her first year of school was taken up with learning how to control the classroom and how to do her lesson plans to a tee. She has not learned how to manage meltdowns, how to ward them off, or how to make children feel loved in the classroom. Maybe she is a cold personality towards kids - it's too early to tell. But the guidance counselor can help her by giving her ideas.

If things don't get better after talking to her, or if the teacher is not nice to you, I'd go to the principal and ask for help. If you aren't telling them what to do - if you are sharing the problem and asking for them to fix it instead of telling them what to do to fix it - you should get results...

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

Have you not heard of positive reinforcement versus negative reinforcement???

Your son gets an emotional reaction out of you, by crying and clinging to your leg and whining and you cave in each and every time. That's reinforcing his negative behavior with your positive attention.

Your sons' teachers, ignores the unwanted (negative) behavior, the crying and teaches him there are consequences to his acting out inappropriately, which you label as 'cold', which it is not, given the school environment now, because if she reacts to one kid crying, what do you think the rest will start to do? They will start whining for their mommies too. So she is not reinforcing the negative behavior with positive attention.

I hope for the love of growing up and maturing into a wonderful, young student, you will think about this dynamic and get it.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Abilene on

First couple weeks of school are crazy for everyone. When I met my daughter's kinder teacher I told her my daughter's education was my responsibility. I was happy she was going to partner with me and I knew we would have a successful year together. She told me she had been teaching for over 20 years and never been told that. I told her I wanted to volunteer once a week and hopefully more but she could plan on it every Friday morning. By doing that, I became her advocate. There were no other volunteers on a regular basis. When I finished whatever she needed me to do, I asked the other kinder teachers if there was anything they needed. It was a great year and I came away with an increased respect for what they do. They knew I was there and they could depend on it. Usually once a quarter or so I would bring lunch in.

My suggestion is you speak to the teacher. You arrange a meeting and let her know you want to partner with her. You tell her you feel awkward about how your son is behaving and would appreciate any suggestions she might have. I understand this is your first experience with school so you don't know exactly what to do. I remember that well. Think about when you correct your kid or need to speak to your husband about an issue. If you go at it with kindness the results are normally much better than if you go at it with voice and posture ready to do battle. This teacher (whether she's a great teacher or not) is going to teach your son and spend more time with him during his waking hours than you. You want to be on her side, helping, encouraging, contributing.


8 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Oh, I am so sorry that you are having a rough start. But the truth is, that starting in a new grade can be upsetting. Especially when we all want it to go well and things are different. Of course none of us know anything about the teacher, but I do know some things you can do to help this transition.
+ Try to put the lack of a phone call behind you. What's done is done.
+Schedule a short talk with the teacher, without your son.
+Just chat and get to know her expectations for improved drop-offs.
+ Seek information from her on what is going well for your son
+If you are still uncomfortable, talk to the guidance counselor.
+ Do not ask (or as you say, pry) about the details of the day. Children find this very upsetting. It sends the message that you are worried, and boy o boy, if you are worried then your child should be, too.

All my best. Hopefully you and your child will be through this transition soon, and you will be enjoying an exciting year.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Grand Forks on

I would schedule an appointment with the teacher. It is important that you all be on the same page. If you meet with the teacher and still do not see an improvement then make an appointment with the guidance counselor. I agree with the others who say that the teacher is doing the right thing by ignoring this behaviour. If you think that there is a chance that your child might try to leave the building please let the administration know. By kindergarten most children know that they are not to leave the building (or grounds), so teachers do not worry about children running off. Have a talk with your child and make sure he understands that he is never to leave the building alone. If he is having this much separation anxiety I think it is unlikely he would venture out alone.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

Is this a private school?

I've never had my children in a school (public or private) where the policy of the school was for the teacher to call the home and speak over the phone to the students before school started. That seems pretty time consuming and an ineffective use of time. Isn't the "meet and greet" usually handled at open house? And yet, you didn't speak up then. Did you at least introduce yourself and your son to the teacher at the open house? "Hi. I'm Mrs. ____ and this (arm around son's shoulder) is "Jimmy". We're excited about kindergarten. What can you tell me about how drop off works in the mornings? Do the parents stay at all, or leave the kids at the door, or how do you like the procedure to go?" Or did you ask her any questions of any kind... offer help in the classroom, tips on sending in snacks? anything?

Because it sounds like, from what you said above, that you waited for her to do everything "first", rather than advocate for yourself and your son. And perhaps your son picked up (early on) your lack of enthusiasm (or perhaps downright annoyance?) with this teacher, who didn't call you at home and talk to you before open house.
You do realize, of course, that calling 20 kids (and speaking to both the student and the parent) would likely take about 15-20 minutes per kid, perhaps more, depending upon the loquaciousness of the parents. So.. 5 hours on the phone or perhaps more over the course of 3 evenings.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from San Antonio on

First of all you have to put the fact she didn't call you behind you and drop it, forget about it, things happen and unfortunately it did MOVE ON!!

I am telling you this as a former full time teacher and now substitute. In the past six weeks I have subbed Kindergarten seven days at the same school.

First day drop off, your child is having a melt down. Is she (the teacher) suppose to ignore 19 to 22 other students who are having their first day of school and trying to figure out where they are suppose to be to come over and give your son personal one on one attention? When you the mother are right there. You the mother know your child better than she does and ONLY you know this isn't typical behavior. If he runs after you with you right there she isn't going be alarmed. Once the day has started and everyone is in class and the door is closed...he then opens it and runs she will page the office.

When there are tears they are usually acknowledged and then they allow the child to try and sort it out. Then they call the guidance counselor, if the child doesn't bounce back. Because when the school day starts it is going at a rapid pace. Morning announcements, the pledge, attendance, lunch count, and morning activity. This teacher has like I said before 19 to 22 other students to lead and start teaching the morning routine.

If he runs out of class. They have a plan in place to make sure he doesn't get out of the building. This isn't their first Kinder rodeo. And if they don't then I would be speechless.

I have had in the past weeks, students who cried off and on all day for various reasons, several runners, hitters, tantrum throwers, throwers of objects, and students who have to have their hands physically held any time we leave the classroom or they will run. To name the most common things that have happened.

While teaching a class of on average 21, five year olds, when any of the above happens and they are so disruptive you cannot continue teaching, they are distracting others who cannot learn, or endangering anyone (including themselves). We buzz the office and an aide, a counselor or administrator comes and yes, they go to the office.

In Kinder it is best to ignored unwanted behavior that not hurting anyone. If you rush to little Johnny because he is crying that he misses his mommy and make over him and coo over him. That guarantees anytime he wants attention he will do the whole crying routine again and again.

You DO reassure him everyone misses their mommy, but we are here to learn and have fun, he will see mommy later that day and then move on. If he continues you send him somewhere to compose himself a.k.a. the office. (He is probably equating being send to the office to calm down as being sent to the principle. Many kids go to calm down and come back. They are not in trouble they just can't stay in class and cry.)

I guarantee to you the teacher is not cold. She is using time tested techniques to help kids adjust and get used to school. Ignoring some behavior is one of those, sending them to the office to calm down is one of those, not acting shocked by the behavior is one of those...

Send her an email and express your concerns about the tough time at drop off being new to you and your son. That his running is also a new thing. Ask her to give you tips of talking with him at home about what to expect now that he is a big boy in Kinder. I guarantee you will find a lovely warm and wonderful woman who wants your child to succeed and will work with you to make that happen.

Kinder really is the new first grade. The amount of knowledge that this teacher has to impart to these kids in one short year is astounding. Give her the benefit of the doubt, back her up, and be her assistant in helping your son get the most out of this year.

One other thought from me is: when is his birthday? Is he a young or new five year old? If he is a young five it could be a much harder transition than if he has had six or more months of being five under his belt.

I know you want some mommy sympathy and outrage here. Having seen what I have seen in the past few weeks...give the teacher a chance.

FORGET about the lack of phone call...start open to her...I guarantee if you have that tone of "you teacher have already made a bad impression" when you talk with or email her...she will pick up on it!! It will put her even more on guard. That will not help your son adjust it will make it worse.

Good luck!!

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Tampa on

I am still laughing at the response that the PTA has any say-so in hiring decisions. I am President of PTA at my children's school and we have absolutely zero to do with any staffing decisions.

Perhaps this teachers just doesn't give a good first impression. My daughter's kindergarten teacher was this way. It took getting to know her a bit to get her to warm up. Once I did, I found that she was very competent and way different than how she appeared at first. I would give it a little time on that front.

That being said, if you have concerns about your son adjusting, you should contact her and perhaps meet with her in person or a phone call to discuss strategies to help him...

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I sent my child to public school but I taught in 2 private schools, and I never ever heard of a teacher calling students beforehand. It's unwieldy and pointless, frankly. I can see being upset if you expected this and if it happened for others, but I certainly think there's a huge problem if you told your child it would occur. I think it's crazy that people are getting info from social media sites - that's not going to be efficient or accurate.

I'm sorry you weren't told the teacher's name or apparently the classroom - that's a miscommunication on the schools' part. But it sounds like you did go to orientation at some point so that was the time to tell your son how cool his classroom looked and how much you know he's going to just love it, and for him to have an hour in there to learn the ropes. It was up to you at that point to reassure him and make him a confident child able to separate well.

He's also certainly picking up on your frustration and anxiety. If he's normally clingy and a run-to-Mommy kid, he might not be ready for the larger scale kindergarten. So you have to decide right away whether you can help him transition or if he just needs a year of pre-K in a smaller setting specifically designed to give kids an extra year of greater independence and maturation. I'm a big believer in keeping kids back an extra year rather than have them repeat kindergarten because they've had a rough year and aren't ready for first grade. Even at this point, if you remove him, he will feel like he failed unless you do an incredible job of saying YOU made the mistake in putting him in the wrong class.

I know of no schools that have parents dropping kids off in the classroom - that's got to be a chaotic mess with 22 kids and 22 (or 44) parents in one room! We had drop-off & pick-up locations on school property (at the curb or in the cafeteria) or school buses - no parents in any classrooms! I think you were on the right track telling your son no crying and then in we go to hang up the backpack but you must be more forceful on that.

Most schools specifically avoid putting kids in class with their preschooler buddies. It's up to your son to play with and get along with others. That was the point of preschool (along with teaching him to respect the teacher)!! It's up to you to get him to feel more confident in his abilities - you say he did great in preschool so where's the disconnect? He certainly learned to stay i the classroom and not run out, right? He learned to sit in circle time and walk in a line and hang up his own coat and raise his hand. Why can't he do it now? So I'd ask him the name of one kid he thinks is nice - maybe the kid who sits next to him or who has the next cubby. Tell your son to tag along at recess and not wait for an invitation - the only way he will have friends is if he becomes a friend. Let him know that every kid in the room is in the same situation - new school, new teacher, new kids, new routine.

The teacher's job is to have an engaging lesson plan, to foster a good learning environment, and to do endless paperwork on every child with a special program. She has to learn all the names, maintain order, and learn which kids have life-threatening allergies and medication schedules. Her job is not to hand-hold a child who is having a meltdown or a kind of tantrum (stress-induced or otherwise) or to interfere with a parent who is trying to manage the child. The child is either in your care or in hers - so she's not going to intervene in your relationship with him.

Maybe she's not the most effusive teacher, but she has to be more of an authority figure to manage 22 kids than a preschool teacher with 8-12 younger kids who need that level of cuddling. The teacher could also be picking up on your attitude and disapproval, so maybe she's keeping her distance because of you, not the other way around.

I think the school did a great thing by having a guidance counselor devote the better part of an entire day for just your son. I'd also really question the "get sent to the principal's office" remark - that could be your son's interpretation, while maybe the teacher said "Would you like to go sit in the office where it's quiet? When you feel better and calmer and can stop crying, you can come right back." Maybe his crying and fussing was causing other kids to tease him? (Is this why he didn't have a playmate at recess?) Maybe she thought your son was embarrassed by his own crying and needed time to collect himself? We've all sent our kids to their rooms for quiet time to get a grip on whatever is stressing them out.

As for the prying - stop. 99% of kids, when asked what happened in school today, will say "nothing" or "I don't know." These are not unhappy kids - they are just kids. You keep digging, his stress level goes up, and he feels that you aren't happy with what he's doing/saying. That's a lot after a long day in a big classroom. Here's an article I read today on what & how to find out more about school:

I'd start with calling the guidance counselor, thanking her for taking her day to work with just your child, and ask what she observed. You can ask her where your son got the idea he'd be sent to the principal's office (what the policy is vs. what some other kid might have said to him). Ask for specific strategies on how to help your child make this adjustment. Then I would email the teacher saying you got some good advice from the GC and you will be implementing those techniques, and if she has anything to add you'd be happy to hear it, but you know she is out straight with the start of the year. Let her know you appreciate the challenges of 22 new students who are all in different places developmentally. Let her know you are open to her suggestions and that you really want to improve your son's transition. But we've all seen parents who expect daily emails and phone calls about their child, so make it clear you aren't asking for that.

I know how stressed you are, but I really think your own expectations were so high and unrealistic (perhaps because it's your first experience and perhaps because you were given misinformation). It's time to get control of your own attitude and infuse your child with encouragement and excitement and reassurance.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Barbara on

I actually never got a call in Transitional K or real Kindergarten (other may have, but i sure didn't tell my son). Many in first grade received post cards (i don't think my son's class did) and this year we got the recorded vm from the teacher. I can now imagine some may not have gotten the call.

Anyway, there has always been a kid or 2 who cries in kinder drop off. Even ones with many siblings at the school and ones who were fine in preschool. It was very hard on the moms dropping off. If it makes you feel better I have not noticed this in first grade.

I would change your mind set (yes, i would be annoyed, but mind over matter and you are in control of your thoughts). Contact her via email for a meeting. Discuss what is typical in these crying situations and how can you be assured your son will not exit without her seeing? Be direct. Ask is she has ever been in this situation. Most schools expect the parent and teacher to work things out before going to the principal. I can tell you your story is small potatoes as far as the principal is concerned. It is a huge deal to you and your child though. If you still feel she is incompetent and your son's safety is an issue go above her. Please do not add the no phone call to your list of reasons for being upset. You will not be taken as serious.

I recall a teacher telling all the parents "I may not look at you or know your names right away, but i am focusing on your children." Hearing that helped me realize what her priority is.

edit: You may want to ask another question here such as, 'If your child cried at Kindergarten drop off, how did you handle it? Did it last a month or all year?' Or something like that.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I would probably schedule a meeting with the teacher. Go into it with your notes for concern, think ahead of how you can respectfully convey to her your point of view and hopefully that will open the doors of communication. She has her side too.

Maybe she left a message and, for some reason, your phone didn't pick it up and she's thinking you are detached. Best to, respectfully and open mindedly, nip it in the bud. Especially since you said the guidance counselor came to sit with him.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

I'm sorry this has been so hard for you and your son! I have a first grader, and while we did not have the clingy issue, I do understand how scary it is for YOU for him to start school. It is also really, really hard to trust a stranger to not only care for your child all day but to provide the foundation of his entire education. I get it, I really do. I had a few of my own freak-outs in the first couple of months of K, which I realize in retrospect were largely due to my (totally normal) fears about how my choice of schools was impacting my son.
First, I think it is a great sign that the teacher called in back-up in the form of the guidance counselor. That shows me that she saw your son needed some extra help, and she got that help for him.
The running after you is unacceptable and unsafe. You definitely need to address that with your son (which I am sure you know). However, I would use that as the basis for setting up a constructive meeting with the teacher. Tell her that you are concerned about your son bolting from the classroom, and you would like the benefit of her experience in figuring out a solution. I have found my son's teachers to be very receptive when I phrase my concerns like that. Every parent is an expert in their child, but they are not an expert in the classroom setting. And we only get to spend a year with a kindergartener, while these teachers specialize in K students. It is really hard to acknowledge as a parent, but they DO have things to teach us about our children. So before you think about drastic measures with the principle or the school board or the district or the governor...just sit down with her for 15-20 minutes and pick her brain.

Give her a chance, first. If she is totally disinterested in your son and offers no suggestions, refuses to meet with you, and won't give you anything more than one word answers no matter what, then you have a problem. It is possible, but I think it is more likely that she has just been busy and more than a little overwhelmed this first week.
I hope it works out as well for you as it did for us- my son had an amazing K experience!!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I am having kinder issues too, so I can relate to your frustration. It's so hard when they are still too little to tell you what's going on and the snippets that you do find out are so disheartening. :(

In your situation, I would start by emailing the teacher with your concerns and ask for her input. It's difficult for her to talk to you at the beginning of the day when the kids are getting settled in and it's loud and chaotic. Don't mention the phone call. Just say that your son is having a difficult time with the transition and you'd like to try to turn it around. Ask for her help and ideas, because "tough love" doesn't seem to be working.

Also, email the guidance counselor and THANK HER for sitting with him. tell her that it means the world to you that someone is with him and helping him through his difficult time.

As far as ideas for you, I would put a picture of your family in your son's bag. Write him a note or draw a silly picture for his lunch. Put a sticker on his shirt and the same one on yours right before you leave the house and tell him that you'll wear yours all day and look at it if you miss him, and he should do the same. Then tell him if anyone makes him feel bad, another kid or an adult, he should tell you about it so you can help. Then try to find out one or two things he likes about kindergarten and laser-focus on talking about those things only.

Good luck, and hope next week is better for him!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

Where did you hear about this teacher calling you and student tradition?
Is it written down somewhere in a school handbook because if you just heard it from someone I think they were pulling your leg - they were NOT being serious.

Every year there's going to be an adjustment to a new teacher (and just wait till he gets to middle school and has multiple teachers to get use to).
With 12 years of school (13 if you count kindergarten) some teachers will be wonderful, some will be ok and if he's lucky only one or two will be really bad matches.
Our son will start 10th grade next week and so far only his 1st grade teacher was nuts.
(I had one AP English teacher in 11th grade that almost jumped out a 3rd floor window during our class - half the class was scared to death while the other half wished he'd just jump already and get it over with).

You and your son need to go in with an open mind and fewer expectations.
Every year is a new adventure and it can be a very positive one.

I can guarantee that contacting 'the guidance counselor and tell her my concerns about the teacher not being a good fit for my child due to her coldness' is not the right approach.

This is kindergarten - not preschool - and the teacher can not simultaneously hold hands with 22 kids.
She can't be 'best friends' with her whole class - she's got a schedule and a curriculum to follow and melt downs every morning just makes everyone wish they didn't have to come to school in the morning.
If your son is a young 5 - maybe he's not ready for kindergarten - an extra year of maturity might do him a lot of good.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

This policy for the teacher to call the kids is wrong. That's not a great way to do this, obviously this teacher is the prime example of why that doesn't work. Since he had issues the first day this phone call not happening is likely what set this up. Although many kids have separation issues the first few weeks.

We haven't been in any school district where you didn't have a session a few days before school where you took the kids supplies to the classroom and met the teacher.

That works because the teacher is there, all the kids are finding out who their teacher is that evening because all the classes are posted on the doors when you come in.

This teacher shows lack of concern, compassion, and I'd have already come down on her for allowing a child to leave her classroom after his parents had left the room. This is a dangerous situation. I'd go to the principle Tuesday morning and ask to visit about this.

Tell the principle that the teacher isn't forthcoming with ideas of how to deal with this situation and that as a parent you are very concerned that this teacher has allowed your child to leave her classroom and chase after you. That the teacher is not showing any signs of interest in keeping him in the classroom.

If it's not resolved I'd tell the principle that you want him changed to another classroom due to safety reasons, that his being allowed to leave the classroom and run away, outside even, shows this teacher is not one that is going to keep your child safe.

If they don't change his class then I would give it as many chances as I could. If your child continues to be allowed to run out of the classroom and not be supervised I'd go to the district admin office and file a complaint.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Toledo on

That really stinks that she didn't call you! At our school the kindergarten teachers send the kids a "Welcome to Kindergarten" postcard, and I was really looking forward to my youngest receiving one this year, so I can relate to your anticipation.

Kindergarten is a huge transition! My youngest was in the PreK program at our school, and it is still a really big transition!

Did the teacher let you know what a typical day looks like? I know our kids hav PE every day, music twice a week, library and computers once a week, recess before lunch (weird) centers after lunch. After school I can ask my son something specific like, "What did you do in music class?" or "What was your favorite center?" maybe "Who did you sit by at lunch?" Specific questions really help them relax and tell you something about their day.

Try to keep things as positive as you can. He needs to believe that kindergarten is going to be ok. If he brings up something bad (or sad) that happened, that's ok. Let him tell you about it and really try to empathize. But also help him to see that we all have bad days and it's going to be ok.

Hang in there! This is harder for you than it is for him.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I would start with the counselor. She may be able to work something with the teacher such that instead of the principal's office, your son can receive a pass to go to her office and work on calming techniques.

You might also read the book The Kissing Hand and make good byes short and sweet and kiss his hand and leave. Dragging it out tends not to help anyone, no matter how hard it is to leave.

I realize 20 is a lot of little bodies to track, but if she is aware that he runs out of the room and does nothing, where else might he end up without her being aware? I would discuss your concern with that.

My first impression of one of DD's teachers this year was standoffish, but I think she is just more businesslike and DD likes her. If it bothers you that she did not call, ask her why she did not call. That seems to be an unresolved issue you should be able to ask about. If it is only her second year teaching, she may still be finding her feet in some ways.

As for being placed with preschool friends, they may have deliberately split them up. My DD is in another class away from both her preschool friend and her BFF. I think this is deliberate to give each child room to grow. They may not have deliberately put him in a room without them, though. It may have been the luck of the draw, going down the list.

FWIW, I would not consider it a "mistake" to walk him to class. In our school, kindergarteners are often walked to their class and cannot be dismissed til a safety patrol picks up their bus or they are picked up by a parent or caregiver. So these other people's schools may have different policies than yours. Your school sounds more like ours.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

The first mistake, whether it is by you or by the school's rule, is walking him to his room each day. Our first school only let parents into the kinder room during the 2 orientation days, because the drop off was at a different time than school opening. The second school would not even let parents in on the first day. They had a Kiss and leave policy at the front door. At the front door there was a teacher there to make sure they got into the front door and presumably to their classroom (we never heard of any of them not making it there). When you walk him to his classroom you give him the opportunity to reconsider school and cling to you.

As for his apprehension, this is typical of many kindergartners. It is a much different environment than preschool and can take many weeks. the teacher may not be a good fit. My son got a teacher switch on the first day because the principal realized that the original teacher wasn't a good fit. I would contact the guidance counselor and let her know what is going on. They are trained to deal with this. They should be meeting him at the door and getting him to class and checking in with him. If you are concerned with the teacher, ask her if he can be switched to a better placement for him. Good luck.

***also, I know many are saying that the teacher ignoring the crying is normal. When my kids started kindergarten, the first half day, the parent stayed for an hour and then left. This was the only day we were really allowed in the room. We had 2 kids that were criers in my son's class when the parents left during that orientation. That teacher was wonderful. She had the other kids occupy themselves with a scavenger hunt and she hugged each of them, gently pried them off of the mom and instructed mom to leave quickly and quietly. The kids both stopped crying quickly after mom left. They cried off and on over the first weeks and she worked with the moms to come up with strategies to help them. There was another kindergarten teacher that was a tough love type and used the ignore and be a big kid and stop this. Some parents loved her and some hated her. So yes, there are some warm and fuzzy kinder teachers out there and maybe he isn't in the right class for him.

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answers from Chicago on

Try to talk to the teacher and document it. If she can't help ..Report all of this behavior to the school administration. Someone once laughed at me about mentioning to the PTA, but they are the ones who often call the shots on hiring.And other parents are often on it. I am sure you are not the only one who could be having a problem with this teacher. Most teachers are truly wonderful and thoughtful, and perhaps there is some issue you don't know about. Heck, sometimes students look like a person that picked on them years ago and since they are human they don't know how to handle their own emotions. It seems like kindergarten is a little too young to put the stomp on his crying and once you have weeded through what happened about the beginning of kindergarten it might end up being a truly successful year. She could have forgotten and is embarrassed. She might have been chastised already for something similar and thought it was your call. At this point since you don't know really anything at all I'd start fresh.

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

As someone else asked -- is this a private school?

In private preschool, our teachers actually did home visits to meet new kids. But once public school K began, there were no calls etc. I can't even picture how teachers would be expected to have time to do that. Please let the "non-call" issue go -- it sounds as if it's still looming pretty large in your mind, and for all you really know, the teacher make an honest error and marked you as having been called when she'd talked to some other family instead. Let that go and don't raise it with the teacher or school -- frankly if you bring it up now, it makes it appear that you're not in the moment right now but still nursing your hurt over that. You don't want to appear that way.

You also mention that the school didn't keep the kids from your son's preschool class together--? That makes me think the school is private and the preschool must have been affiliated with it because otherwise, there is no way any public school has anything to do with grouping kids together who have been to the same preschools. If your son's in a public school unrelated to the preschool he attended--your expectations weren't very realistic about his being grouped with preschool classmates. Again, something to let go.

The teacher's strategy of turning her back and seeming cold when your son is melting down may be just that - an intentional strategy, not an indication that she is heartless. There are kids who, if a relative stranger like the new teacher tries to intervene during the "mommy don't leave" meltdowns, will only get much worse. She may know that and may employ the turned back and monosyllabic answers in order to take herself out of the meltdown and not make it worse. If you expect her to come over, peel your son off you, focus on him in that moment, she may know from her experience or training that it's potentially going to worsen things.

Your son has been in K for mere days. It's far too soon to assume that she "doesn't connect" with him. But he will pick up on any negativity you have toward her, even if you don't say a single negative thing in front of him. So go farther in being encouraging. Don't question him too hard about each day -- when he's getting into the car after school (if you pick him up), have a "car snack" ready to both distract and refuel him, and leave "how was your day" questions for later. Better yet, never ask a non-specific "how was your day" to a kid this young; if you must ask, be specific and focus on things you know he likes: "I see you've got a drawing there! Tell me about it--I love those colors you used" or whatever. Don't ask how his teacher was today etc.

I agree with the person who posted that a statement like "Would you like to sit in the office to calm down" is likely to be interpreted by a young child as "You'll be sent to the principal!" You always only have half the story. Can you ramp back your own worries about sending your child off to K - a big step for all us parents -- and give this time?

I would also go in and meet the counselor and address any issues with the counselor, not with the teacher or principal, certainly not this early. Counselors can be very good at lending us parents perspective.

Finally -- why is the school letting parents go all the way to the classrooms to help kids hang up their bags? That would not be allowed in many schools and might not be allowed in yours, past the first week or so of K. I would start dropping him at the front door of the building, not going inside at all, and certainly not all the way into his classroom. That needs to be his turf and his teacher's turf. In K in our public schools, kids walk to the classrooms themselves -- which is why the K and first grade rooms are near the main doors.

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