November 2011
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I’ve mentioned before that Ava is struggling a bit in school.

More details:

Earlier in the year there was a problem kid in her class. Kid had some serious developmental issues and this setting was not a good fit for her. Kid was also not very verbal and would lash out aggressively and often – and she was a very big kid who was capable of inflicting some damage. She was fairly violent at times and seemed to target specific children (thankfully it was rarely Ava). The problems were increasing and a number of parents were expressing their concern about the other childrens’ safety. The teachers in her class were so busy with dealing with this child that the learning environment was not optimal for the other children and most attention was focused on this kid. The kid left the school soon after – her sibling still goes there so I assume she was asked to leave after several months of trying to deal with the behaviors.

So, what does this have to do with Ava? Well, for one thing this kid taught all of the others (by example) that hey, you can hit people. My kid learned this pretty well – along with several others. So all of a sudden, my non-hitting child has deciding that hitting is a perfectly acceptable way to solve problems. We’re not hitters in our family so this is either something she picked up there or is just something she likes to do. 90% of the time she’s hitting the same kid (who is also a hitter) but she’s hit another little girl a time or two as well. We are NOT happy about this, of course.

But it’s not only that. She’s in trouble almost every single day for not listening or for not putting her things away or for not sharing or for throwing a toy on the ground or…well, you get the idea. I really dread walking into her daycare for pickup because I know somebody is going to make a beeline for me to tell me all the things she did wrong. Don’t get me wrong, I asked for feedback when she gets in trouble but I didn’t know it would be like this Sometimes I just want to ask – and I have – if she ever does anything right.

And I’m not proud of how we’ve handled it sometimes. We’ve tried it all – taking toys away, yelling, various punishments, talking the issue to death, reading books, putting her to bed early – and we’re not really seeing any results other than we’ve completely succeeded in making us all miserable. I hate how it affects our whole evening every single day and I feel helpless and I don’t know what to do and then that makes me mad at myself and it turns into one big vicious cycle of grouching and misery.

But I do know some things. This can’t continue. I feel like we’re losing so much quality time together because we’re letting what happens at school bleed over into our family time in the evenings. I don’t want to be so affected by this but it just wears on me – and I’m worried that if we don’t address it that we’ll end up with a little psychopath on our hands. I am worried, so worried, that she will start feeling like she can’t do anything right if she keeps on hearing all the things that she does wrong. She is such a (usually) kind, sweet, and loving kid that it kills me to think of her being labeled as something other than that.

I’ve been revisiting all of my child development books and honestly, most of this seems developmentally appropriate for her age. But I feel like if I say that too much then people think I’m just defending her because she’s my kid. I get it that she’s doing some things wrong, but geez. She’s four. If they were capable of behaving like perfectly self-controlled little adults all the time then they wouldn’t really need us, would they?

This is where I need advice because I am wondering if I need to look at other schools. I worry that Ava is already being labeled and that the expectation of misbehavior is something that will stick with her for the rest of her time there. I worry that she will develop a negativity about education. I worry that her teachers are eagle eye-ing her for even the slightest misstep because she’s gotten a ‘reputation’ as a kid who doesn’t listen well.

But then I also worry about the impact it would have on her to take her out of the only place she’s ever gone (she started going there at 13 months old) and away from the familiarity of the facilities and teachers. While the place isn’t perfect, our experiences there have been mostly positive and she’s been happy. Heck, she’s still happy. She likes going in the mornings and looks forward to getting back to see her friends after she’s been away for a weekend. If we moved her now we would end up moving her again when she goes to Kindergarten next year and my kid, well, she does not do transitions especially well.

So, what to do, Internets?

2 Responses to “Pre-School Blues”

  • Karen Ellard says:

    Hmmm… I probably have some advice or ideas, but I am so tired after PTA. Let me think. But just know that I think Ava is darling, and I haven’t EVER seen any major issues! … and I am a mom and a teacher!

  • Jenny says:

    Such a tough spot to be in. I am no expert but my gut would be to move her. I would worry about her being labled and or singled out. A fresh start may be just what she needs. Just my 2 cents! Glad you are posting again 🙂 Miss you guys!

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