Thursday, February 12, 2009

minor epiphany

Danny seems to be doing rather well this school year, despite the many changes he has faced (much bigger class, different teacher, regular class as opposed to special ed class, etc.) He has really surprised me at how well he is dealing with all the extra stimulation, especially this winter; in the past, he has had difficulty after many days with no recess and little exercise during the school day. It has been many, many weeks since the kids got to play outside, yet he has not fallen into his habits of pushing kids and getting wild. Thank goodness.

There have, however, been a few incidents for which Danny has received a "Humpty" which is his teacher's euphemism for getting in trouble. For some reason, he keeps getting in trouble during naptime. I am not entirely sure what is going on as the notes home are pretty cryptic saying things like, "Danny bothered someone during nap time." At first, I kind of laughed it off, thinking the teacher would deal with it, but he has now gotten 2 Humpties in 2 weeks (and a few more throughout the school year). I am sensing a pattern emerging and would like to take care of it before it becomes a problem.

I don't entirely agree with the Humpty system, because it seems like the only real punishment is that the kids don't get a treat from the golden treat box at the end of the week. It seems to me there should be some more immediate consequence and it should be related to the infraction. For example, I suspect that Danny is making noises during naptime because he is bored and also because it gets the attention of the other kids. So, one option would be to remove him from the other kids. This would probably really bother him and might just be all it takes to control his misbehavior. Also, though he may have gotten a Humpty on Monday, I never hear about it until Miss A. sends a note home on Friday. And as you can imagine, Danny is not exactly forthcoming about when he receives these Humpties. So, what am I supposed to do at home about something he did days ago? It seems a bit late to really fix things at that point.

Last night I was thinking about the situation and about Danny's teacher. I am not entirely fond of her, mostly because she is not all that approachable. Of course, I am comparing her to Miss Sally, who Danny had for his first 2 years of preschool and who was amazing. We worked so well together: she stayed in touch with me throughout the years, reporting not just challenges, but successes as well. It was completely evident that she loved Danny and all her students and that she did all she could to understand and reach them. I know she had fewer students than Miss A and had more time to devote to individual kids, but still, I so wish I had the same rapport with Miss A as I did with Miss Sally.

Anyway, as I was contemplating Danny's teacher, I realized what the real problem is: I have been intimidated by Danny's teacher and have let that get in the way of how involved I have been this year. It is so dumb. I mean, what makes me so nervous to assert myself to my son's preschool teacher? Why am I so willing to assume that other people know what's best about my kid just because they are supposed to be experts? For pete's sake, I have a master's degree in education and taught in an inner-city high school for years. I know from discipline issues. Besides, even if I only made it to the fourth grade, I know my kid better than anyone. I should not be afraid to offer some guidance or ask for information about what is happening at school!

So, I sat down this morning and wrote Miss A a note asking if we could talk soon about how to take care of this naptime misbehavior. And while I was at it, I wrote to Miss C who is the special ed teacher who takes Danny out every day. I have no idea what she does with him as Danny won't really give specific information and Miss C has never sent a note home, called or even met with me at parent-teacher conferences. I have been wanting to know what is going on there, but kept putting off contacting her.

I am a bit ashamed to admit all this. I know I should have been more assertive and a better advocate for Danny, though, in my defense, school has gone so well this year, I didn't think it was necessary for me to butt in. But now, I realize that I just need to be more informed about what is going on so I can help Danny more. I cannot allow my insecurities to get in the way of advocating for Danny. I wonder if I will ever conquer those demons.....


HeatherPride said...

Hi! Happy to come over and meet you!

I also let myself get intimidated by my son's preschool teachers - and most of them are half my age!! It's ridiculous.

I have to say that in my son's preschool, naptime is an option, not a requirement. I mean, not all kids are nappers. So if they keep trying to make your son lie down every day and he doesn't want to, that's probably a problem that isn't going to be fixed until they stop forcing it on him. Just a thought. Good luck with the chat, and let us know how it goes!

Anonymous said...

How many hours is preschool? I'm just surprised naptime is even part of it - especially for a 5 year old.

I tend to be a little insecure about questioning Chee's teacher too. Recently I did step out and challenge her thinking on something, and since then it seems that our line of communication dried up a bit. It really irks me and I hope it's not because I questioned her (and also didn't back down).

It is true that we do know our kids best. I don't have a degree in education, haven't EVER worked with kids, and so I always feel like I'm "supposed" to just trust what they say.

One good thing is that since Chee has been taking piano lessons, I have been able to figure out a lot about how she learns. That's info I can pass on to her future teachers.

Anyway - don't be embarrassed about not being more proactive. Like you said, the year has been going well. That's how it's been for Chee too. Smooth sailing.

one more thing - what are you going to name the baby?

How much weight have you gained?

and are you going to breastfeed?

Bwahahaha - just kidding - don't shoot me. :)

Quirky Mom said...

I feel you, totally. I'm very intimidated by authority, which means I get intimidated by Apple's preschool teachers... at the same time that I intimidate them! LOL! I have good rapport with most of them just by virtue of familiarity -- Apple has been in the preschool room for over a year, and I knew several of her teachers when she was in their toddler program as well.

Good for you for opening the conversations with them now!

a Tonggu Momma said...

"Besides, even if I only made it to the fourth grade, I know my kid better than anyone. I should not be afraid to offer some guidance or ask for information about what is happening at school!"

EXACTLY!!! Speak up! Preschool teachers are just like the rest of us - an insecure lot who fear upsetting the parents and making poor decisions. I should know - I was one! LOL.

When I taught, my favorite line from a parent - EVER - is one I now use:

1. What is the problem?
2. What are you doing at school that seems to curb the issue?

As a parent, I now follow up on that conversation with, "I know this is a different environment, but what does work for us at home is to ___. How do you think that might work in a school setting?"

Deb's World said...

There is the old adage that says, "If it's not broken, don't fix it." Things were going well. Now there are some issues arising so you are taking care of it. I don't think you need to be so hard on yourself. :) I think insecurities will always get in the way (which is so annoying), but then we take a deep breath and forge ahead. You're doing great!

Amy Jane said...


I'm really proud of you for being proactive and writing those notes to Danny's teachers. Way to go! Hopefully, when you meet with them, you can work things out, or at least do your best to. Way to assert yourself!

The term "Humpty" is totally gay, and sounds vaguely naughty - makes me think of that song that talks about "my hump my hump, my lady lumps." :) In Nick's class, each kid gets a green, yellow, or red card for the day, and they're just called "cards." :)

I am more than happy to be your motivator to lose weight and get in shape. I just rue the fact that I'm not physically there with you. If I were, I would totally be your personal trainer (for free!) and come over to your house and design workouts for you, incorporating both cardio and strength. Plus, I would help you overhaul your pantry/fridge. It would be so fun! Alas. I'll just have to do what I can from afar.

Anonymous said...

Having to battle a school system which does not want to "deal" with special needs kids with Sensory Processing Disorder has been hard for me... I have sort-of taken the attitude of "F*&^ You," to the teacher who refuses to make accomodations for my 8 year old with Asperger's.. they just don't "see" what I do, and therefore, I am the looney. As far as I am concerned, yeah, school is important, blah blah, but how you live your life, and being a more, "wordly, compassionate kid," really matters.. I think teachers, not all, get so caught up in the little daily things that happen in class.. but in the end, does it really matter? Like does it even make a dent in the universe? It would be great if your son would not make noises in class, but maybe there is a reason... maybe he "needs" too, and has a hard time controlling himself. I know at times I am so quick to point the finger at my kid.. and you know.. most of the time, I'm wrong.. I wonder what that does to his self-esteem? I remember what it did to mine, when I was growing up.

Elizabeth Channel said...

I think sometimes it is so nice to not hear anything negative that you just enjoy coasting along without having a "school fight" to contend with. I know I have done this countless times. It's just so nice to have a break, so to speak.

kia (good enough mama) said...

I so get this. I'm intimidated by Little Man's teacher, too. Perhaps because she's 103 years old and she makes people believe that she knows everything. You shouldn't be ashamed of yourself at all. We all fall prey to this. It's just awesome that you've realized what's going on and you're dealing with it. Be proud of yourself!