Having misgivings about DS's preschool--need feedback (long) — The Bump
Pre-School

Having misgivings about DS's preschool--need feedback (long)

I live in a very good school district and have heard GREAT things from several people about the district preschool program, including the teacher he has, who has been at this school for years. So I was excited for DS to start last week. He attends 4 mornings a week. But from the first email I received from the teacher, I have been underwhelmed about communication to the parents. The initial welcome email about the open house was poorly written and unclear. I had to email the teacher back for clarification. The open house was arranged bizarrely, with me having to locate childcare for both kids for an hour in the AM while I drove to the school, had a parent meeting, and then drove home to pick up my DS so he could go and meet the teacher. Totally PITA. And she mentions these upcoming evening events (like parent-teacher conferences, I guess), but can't provide any clarification on dates/times/if kids are welcome/etc. 

So far, aside from the initial meeting about general things (safety, pick-up/drop-off, snack protocol, etc), I have received no information about curriculum or what they actually DO there. DS tells me they go outside, have snack, and play with blocks. That is all I can get out of him consistently. I'm hoping to find out more specifics about it all on this mysterious evening night whenever that is. We drop him off just outside his classroom, but pick him up outside the school, so I have yet to really be in the classroom aside from that first day. It's not that we aren't allowed, but they discourage parents from lingering so the kids don't freak out. I get that, but it makes it tough to even get a feel for the program.

I also have had no feedback at all from any of the teachers (there are several besides the head teacher) on how DS is doing, including his speech teacher, which is why we chose the district school in the first place (he has an IEP and therefore qualifies for special services). They did call me yesterday after I dropped him off to come and get him saying he had a fever and an upset tummy (it turned out I was never able to register a temp at home and he just had to poop and he was fine) and she didn't know my name, but just asked if this was Evan's mom and then actually said that she doesn't know my name. I am sure she is busy, but it wasn't an emergency and they have all of the forms I filled out in the room. She could have looked it up to call me by name. Or better yet, maybe she should take the time to actually get to know me. She seems to know many of the other moms who are in their second year, and she does linger after class to socialize a bit, so I assume at some point we'll have some interaction.  

I know it's only been 7 days so far and maybe I'm expecting too much too soon. But I just feel underwhelmed. Maybe my expectations were too high. And DS had such great speech teachers previously (who talked to me all the time about his progress), that maybe I just got spoiled. But it seems I should know something about his progress, if he is adapting ok, if he is behaving, and that sort of thing. He seems to enjoy it and comes home happy, so that's good. And I feel very comfortable about leaving him there in terms of safety. I guess no news is good news?

Am I overreacting? Is this normal? Am I just picky? DH thinks she is probably just great with the kids, but not great with adults. Maybe? I suppose I could be more aggressive and ask for a meeting, but I don't want to be that parent who looks pushy. I'm just surprised I'm not over the moon like I thought I'd be.  And then I also feel guilty for even complaining since we don't have to pay tuition. So I probably should just let it slide.

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Re: Having misgivings about DS's preschool--need feedback (long)

  • Your experience sounds just the opposite of mine. My DD is in a pre-school program that is also a daycare. I get a weekly lesson plan either end of day on Friday or first thing Monday morning (if teacher is behind/vacation/etc) to let me know what they will be doing that week. It is also posted on the wall of the classroom. We can come and go into DD's classroom as we please and are encouraged to linger to see how our child interacts. I do not get a daily report about how DD does now but did get a little note the first few days she was there. Much of it was circled choices (I ate.....well, ok, not much) but there was always a little hand written note about something she did "she was a great leader, she loved the book we read." DD is always welcome at meetings with her teacher AND the school provides a staffed play area if you'd like some time with the teacher without DC.  While we pay for DD to be there they are part of our school district and I know that there are people that qualify for free services that attend. I think it is ok if you are THAT mom and request better communication. You should know what is going on with your child and feel comfortable with where they spend their day. Period.

    Good luck!

  • It does sound like they may be unorganized, but I don't think it's unusual that you are not receiving regular progress updates. I mean, I'm not familiar with the special services provided for IEP, but I know the only time I received a thorough progress report from DD1's teacher was during parent-teacher conferences once a semester. I did often chat with her teachers at drop-off and pick-up, and I was able to email them as needed, but there was never anything formal outside of the conferences. The only times I've ever been in the classroom have been for class parties or to read books to the class once a semester; they don't regularly allow parents to sit in as it becomes more of a disturbance. When we toured the school, and maybe in our back-to-school packet, we were given an outline of the school day: playground, circle time, snack time, etc., and then each month the teacher sent a calender listing the themes for each class day. We also got a monthly calender with general school events. But I don't know exactly what happens on any given day, unless DD1 tells me something specific about it.

    If the teacher isn't approachable, it may just be a personality issue; I know I've heard about a similar complaint about another teacher at DD1's school, in which case it matters more how the teacher interacts with your child than with you anyway. It would definitely take me aback if the teacher didn't even know my name, though. I first met DD1's teachers last year at back-to-school night, and then we had a "story day" where DD1 and I both met with her teachers. (I did get a sitter for DD2 then, but most of the time, even story time, I was allowed to bring her with me.)

    All that said, I do think it's really important that both you and your DS feel comfortable in the school you've chosen. I'd suggest giving it a little more time, try to talk to the teacher a bit more, and if you're still not happy, you might want to look into your options for transferring. Good luck!

    Emily 11.29.2007 | Kate 4.3.2010 | James 8.22.2013
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  •  So if the teacher is lingering after class to socialize, are you taking that opportunity to ask her about these things? Or are you asking but getting unsatisfactory answers/blown off? I can't tell from your post if you've approached her, or expect her to come to you. 

    Some teachers are better at volunteering info than others. Especially when you're a week in, and things may still be chaotic as kids adjust and she gets to know them. She may not initiate (outside of official channels like a parent-night) unless something is wrong. 

    So be proactive; it's different than pushy! Introduce yourself at pick-up or drop-off -- multiple times if necessary, she's learning a lot of names & faces right now. Make the effort to be one of the moms who talks with her for a couple of minutes after class -- how else will she really get to know you, and vice versa? 

    I would check the school and/or district web site for general curriculum info (and maybe an event calendar!) if you haven't already. Then you have some background and can ask for specifics on what they're currently working on.

    My DD1 has autism and an IEP. We don't start fall preschool until the 23rd, but did ESY preschool and a toddler class through the district in the spring. I learned fast that if I wasn't hearing the level of detail I wanted, I needed to speak up and ask. Then I'd get it, and once they knew I was a parent who asked, they were consistently prepared with tidbits about her day. 

    Another option, if you're asking and still not hearing the info you want, is to ask about sending a notebook back and forth each day in DS's backpack, where teachers write updates/progress. Often teachers are open to this when it comes to kids with IEPs. We did it with DD1 during her district toddler class (where she was receiving services). It was okay, but I personally preferred talking to them because I got way more detail. 

    image

    DD1, 1/5/2008 ~~~ DD2, 3/17/2010
  • It is your right if it is a public school program to ask for a conference at any time.  I would set one up and share your mis-givings.  Harm's poor teacher has met with me a few times in the past year and just called me last week to meet with me ahead of this school year b/c she knows I want too.  

    That first initial meeting I let her know I wanted to just go over academic curriculum, school routines, etc.  She was awesome.  She came prepared to go over everything with me, including lesson plans and how they meet federal/state guidelines.

     So if I were in your shoes I would request a one on one conference and let her know your concerns ahead of time... than go from there.  Hopefully it is just a little mis-communication. 

    Mom to Harmon 1/17/08 and twins Rachel & Callum 8/28/09 Photobucket 29o0v13.jpg
  • imageschnappycat:

     I get that, but it makes it tough to even get a feel for the program.

    I also have had no feedback at all from any of the teachers (there are several besides the head teacher) on how DS is doing,  

    I know it's only been 7 days so far and maybe I'm expecting too much too soon. But I just feel underwhelmed.

     But it seems I should know something about his progress, if he is adapting ok, if he is behaving, and that sort of thing. He seems to enjoy it and comes home happy, so that's good. And I feel very comfortable about leaving him there in terms of safety. I guess no news is good news?

    Am I overreacting? Is this normal? Am I just picky? DH thinks she is probably just great with the kids, but not great with adults. Maybe?

     

    I could have written all of the above word for word when Dylan started at EagleRidge.  

    Wait.

    Go to the open house night.  They will literally walk you thru every single thing they do during their time with the kids and you will have a complete picture of what he's doing.  From there you can initiate conversations with HIM about his day better as in "what did you read at story time" and "what did you do at the messy table today?" and "who brought snack today?  What did they bring for show and tell?" and "what was today's letter? or weather?"

    You will also get a chance to talk with each of the teachers as well as other parents.

    I was so frustrated before open house night!  I felt very disconnected until then and that's when it all started to turn around for us.

    Here's my take.  They can't tell you how he's doing yet.  It's the first week.  The teachers all joked at open house that every child is a perfect angel because they don't have BFF's yet and they're not super comfortable.  They don't KNOW him yet but they will shortly.  It's a process for all involved.

    Remember too that their first priority is to the children not the parents and in a public school setting that's how it should be and how it will be.  If they spent 10 minutes talking to each of the 15 kids' parents each day or writing progress reports for them they would have no time to do lesson plans, prepare for the afternoon class, etc.

    Another thing to consider is that you're coming at this from a very different perspective in regards to his speech services.  They are much more individualized.  Now he's in a larger group.  You WILL get the feed back you desire - just not within the first week.

    Once I'd met all the teachers at open house it was easier for me to say to Ms. Cindy "did he volunteer during rug time today?" or "is that cough still a problem?" and for her to give me a frank answer while they were singing him out the door.

    FWIW - Ms. Cindy was our lead teacher and like your DH said she's not much with adults but she's FANTASTIC with kids.  I ended up having more dialogue with one of the other teachers who was more chatty with the parents and more forthcoming with individualized info on our kids.  You'll figure it out! 

    I also started learning a LOT from the moms who'd been there the year before or who had older sibllings who'd been thru the program.  That kind of chit chat takes a bit of time and expecting it to be there the first week.  Give those relationships time to develop.  I knew no one from pre-school and now we do mom's night out without the kids, have play dates, etc.   We're doing a play date this Thursday afternoon!  (and keep in mind that Dylan didn't even advance to Kindy with their kids.). 

    Be patient.

    This is new for him and new for you.

    Take heart in the fact that the teachers are more focused on getting the kids settled and on track than they are the parents and realize that they've got an event planned to bring you into the loop once things settle down a bit and get into a routine.  Bringing a group of fifteen 3 and 4 yr olds into a cohesive group ain't no small task - especially when many of them have never been in a formal learning environment before.

    Also - you will have parent teacher conferences.  For us it was optional to bring the kids or not.  I've done it both ways.  The kids usually sit at a different table and play and don't pay attention to what we're discussing.  I'm fine with that for Dylan because all we ever hear is praise but I'm not sure I'd do it with Jace because I'm sure he's gonna be a bit more of a hand full with more discussion about his peer interaction and I wouldn't want him to over hear that, KWIM?

    The moms became good friends and for the spring conferences we scheduled back to back and watched each other's kids on the play ground so each mom could go in kid free.

    Also take heart that if there IS a problem or concern they WILL talk to you directly and promptly.  They really let almost everything slide the first week or so because the kids are getting settled in and learning the routine.  They don't want to assume anything about a kid until they give them a chance to feel safe and settled into the environment, KWIM? 

    I know it's a tough transition.

    Give it time.

    I think you're gonna be really happy there! 

    Our IF journey: 1 m/c, 1 IVF with only 3 eggs retrieved yielding Dylan and a lost twin, 1 shocker unmedicated BFP resulting in Jace, 3 more unmedicated pregnancies ending in more losses.
    Total score: 6 pregnancies, 5 losses, 2 amazing blessings that I'm thankful for every single day.
  • I am a teacher and think everything you described would have driven me crazy! I think you need to address the school - no longer the teacher. It seems like the school's responsibility to have dates and time lined up. I know my school district often is disorganized and I take the fall for it.

    And you pay taxes - no different then tuition. Your child has the right to have the kind of education you desire. 

    I would go to the principal and say directly your concerns. However, I would pick the three most pressing and generic (so you can branch out with examples). If you list too much he/she may just write you off as a pain in the butt parent.

    GL! 

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    BFP 10-31-10 EDD 7-4-11 missed MC 12-24-10 emergency D&C 12-26-10

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  • If you have questions, you need to take the 1st step and get the answers.  Pick up the phone and call the teacher or get to school early and talk to the teacher or stay a few mins at pick-up and talk to the teacher.  A great teacher will not always have great communication skills with the parents and honestly - I want my kids teachers to be great with them.  I will figure out a way to get the information that I need from the teachers but if my kids are happy and learning and safe, that is what comes 1st.  My DD's have both had the same preschool teacher and honestly, I don't love her but my kids do.  My 3 year old has her now and raves about her and gets excited when we get to school and she is there.  I honestly do not think this teacher ever says more than 5 words to me at a time.  I talk to the other teacher to get the information and updates that I need.  Some people are just not great at parent communication.  You need to be agressive to get what you want from the teacher - take the 1st step.  The teacher has a ton of parents to deal with and a lot of kids that she is just getting to know so it might just take her time to warm up to all the parents.
    Jenni Mom to DD#1 - 6-16-06 DD#2 - 3-13-08 
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