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For some, seeing the kindergarten teacher have such remarkable control over 20 children seems astonishing.

But she doesn't get that without doing something. And the children don't always tell you what injustices have occurred during the day, even if you ask them.

Now a child is not wanting to go to school. 1-2 hours of crying in the morning. When you ask him, he says things like "it goes on for a long, long, long time."

So it's boring.

But it seems like it's more than that. We suspected bullying, but answers to questions like "who do you like to play with, and why?" and "who do you not like to play with, and why??" have answers like "Lloyd", they don't seem to point to bullying.

So we kept assuming it had to do with the other children. But the children don't seem to be bullying each other. One time one of us observed an Science activity put on by the teacher, we observed very obedient, well behaved kids, who went and sat on the carpet when told, and put their hands on their head when told, and ate their lunches when told, and didn't talk or interact with each other much at all. Like little robots.

What if you suspect the teacher's tactic for getting control is harsh, and hurting your child psychologically?

How do you investigate what's going on?

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Never leave your child in a place you aren't welcome. Simply spend time in the classroom. If the preschool makes that difficult, you should find another preschool. Same with elementary school, middle school and high school. – Marc Jan 19 '14 at 17:17
up vote 16 down vote accepted

I definitely agree that research is needed.

First, speak to the teacher. Talk to her about her teaching style, but at this point in the year it is a bit late, so maybe speak to her about why SHE thinks your child does not like school. The answer should be very telling.

Second, speak to other parents. Don't accuse the teacher, just talk about whether or not their child is happy in school and what stories they hear about school from their kids. Some kids are better reporters, so you may actually get reports from other students in the class.

Third, speak to your child. It doesn't sound like your son can tell you much in words, but try playing school, making him the teacher. Pretend to be a student along with a bunch of dolls. See what he does. A few times at this game may tell you something and will give him a feeling of empowerment when it comes to school.

Then pool the info and you and your wife should be able to have an informed discussion about what to do.

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This is a great answer. Thank you. – bobobobo Jan 17 '12 at 0:36
Playing school: My thought exactly! Just beware of them playing 'home' at school :) – Benjol Jan 19 '12 at 14:38
Signed in for the site just to +1 the "play school" :) – Sunny Apr 27 '12 at 15:03

Hmmm, tough one. It is difficult to arrive to any well founded conclusions without a lot more research and evidence. And I must note for start, that it is possible to keep control of 20 or even more children without any bad methods. It takes a lot of energy, a lot of experience, and time, however. And it is not always strict. A good teacher knows when to temporarily leave the children more freedom.

What I would do include the following:

  • Although what you depict sounds a bit worrying indeed, one case does not prove anything. There are days when the children just happen to be more calm, regardless of what the teacher or parent is doing (just as there are days when they are like a pack of wild cats, regardless of what the teacher or parent is doing). Observe life within the kindergarten group as often as possible, over an extended period of time, to get more balanced knowledge. Specifically, observe how the children behave with the teacher. Do they approach him/her freely and happily, do they express genuine love towards him/her? Or do they rather fear / avoid him/her?
  • Talk to other parents (also to parents of older kids who have already left to school) about their experiences and feelings.
  • Ask the teacher him/herself openly about how (s)he handles conflicts, or keeps the children at bay, or solves little daily problems. Don't express opinions, just listen. If she is open about her views and methods (of treating kids harshly or the like), you will soon hear enough. If she is hiding something, you will most likely sense it after a while. If she is genuine, you will also feel it.
  • Children at this age are typically not able to openly express theiir feelings verbally. However, their drawings and the games they play may reveal a lot. Especially if you notice a definite change in the mood and/or subject, compared to some months earlier.
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Great answer. Thank you. – bobobobo Jan 17 '12 at 0:36

If you truly want to know what is going on in the classroom for any grade, you have to be there, and not just once or twice. Volunteer to help with something like preparing materials or even reading to the children. Be sure not to interfere and don't go just to spy. It is very eye-opening to see the children as the teacher sees them and sometimes as the teacher doesn't see, when his/her back is turned.

Yes, it is important to talk to the teacher about your concerns. I would do this after volunteering, once you are assured that the concerns your child has are founded. Be careful how you brooch the subject. Most teachers are very well intended and know they could do a better job under different circumstances (i.e. few students, an assistant, more resources, etc.). If you truly have concerns, the principal will need to be involved.

Be careful how you talk with other parents. While you might want to confirm your suspicions, it's important not to plant something that isn't there. Being a teacher is difficult because there are two (or more) audiences to appease: the students and the parents. Education is a team effort. Your job as a parent is to look out for your child and raise concerns if necessary.

Also, be assured this needs to be dealt with sooner rather than later. Children will spend a long time in school. It's important that their early experiences are positive.

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Both me and my wife would do occasional stints helping out at kindergarten. Our daughter loved it and we got a better idea of what they are doing. I'm not sure what the situation is in your country, but in Australia the extra help was welcomed. – dave Jan 17 '12 at 3:31
Depends on the school. In the public system, most teachers welcomed the help. In the Montessori schools we have been involved in (3), they asked for volunteers for very specific things, usually just field trips, not in the classroom. They did, however, have scheduled classroom visitations. They also had much lower student/teacher ratios (8:1, 11:2). – nGinius Jan 17 '12 at 3:35
I think you didn't finish the second-to-last paragraph? – Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Jan 17 '12 at 6:52
Thanks! My touch mouse is a bit sensitive. :) – nGinius Jan 17 '12 at 20:57

Volunteer in the classrooms. Teachers love (and need) volunteers.

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I will share with you what happened to my child. She is now an adult but times haven't changed that much..I have grandchildren who have suffered at the hands of children who bully as well as uninspired teachers. so I can certainly sympathise with you but read on..

I had a gifted child who was reading at 2yo so I home-schooled her for 2.6 yrs then sent her to a Christian school. Came the day when they had to select the readers those little books with 4 pages and they could have them for a week, so because my daughter could already read, she took them all home, some 60 readers and had them for a week. So they were missing and she knew she was in trouble, so she confessed to me that she'd taken them and I scolded her but I knew she was finding school extremely boring, so I took them back to the school and spoke to her teacher who assured me , that she would speak quietly to my daughter. So she did. She called her a liar when she claimed she had read them all, but never once tested her to see if what she'd said was true. Very demoralising.. So after that my daughter just drifted for the next couple of years, with no enthusiasm until she was bullied and in the middle of the school year just refused to return to this big Christian school. So I asked everyone I knew and they told me of a wonderful small school in a country town about 40 kilometres away who had their own bus service.. It had 24 children in 3 classes and she thrived ! She was there for nearly 2 years and was finally recognised for her excellent English by winning a scholarship to boarding school..this is just my story but seriously hear your child..look around for other options or his enthusiasm will wilt and die. and he'll end up a statistic somewhere along the line. .Some teachers are excellent role models and far-sighted whilst others are stick-in-the-muds..If your son is bored now what challenges will school present to him and how will he handle them ? Talking to his teacher isn't really going to do very much, if he or she has a particular style that they are comfortable with, they are not going to want to change it for your son. he is one student but as your son , he deserves to have the experience of schooling that excites him and has him wanting to go every day..look around for a smaller school maybe..they tend to have a greater level of care because there are not so many children..Children tend to look out for each other more. perhaps a church school of a different denomination but being smaller they will take you and your son much more seriously.. when I expressed an interest in sending my daughter to their small school they were initially surprised but both he and his wife, both teachers, drove a round trip of nearly 80 kilometres to come meet us in our own home. And believe me that impressed me a lot. It showed their caring level of commitment to the students in their care. We still keep contact after all these years because they became not just my child's teachers but friends.

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