i need your help

first, let me say this: i do not want leslie to be “that kid” at school.  nor do i want to be “that mom.”

okay.  so, today i made a deal with leslie that if she had a good day at school we would go to mcdonald’s for lunch.  she’s been having some trouble following directions and remembering to put her work away, so i shamelessly resorted to bribery.  when i picked her up, we waited a few minutes for all the other kids in her class to be dismissed, and then i asked her teacher how her day was.  i could tell by the look on her face that there would be no mcdonald’s in our future, and my heart sank.  here’s the report that i got:

apparently, leslie’s class is equipped with a “mystery bag.”  (a bag with something in it that the kids can stick their hand in, feel around, and try to guess what it is.)  i assume they have been taught how/when to use this bag.  today, leslie got the bag and proceeded to fill it with all kinds of stuff that didn’t belong there.  she then carried it around with her like a purse.  her teacher took her out in the hallway, explained to her that what she had done was not good, and made her put all the things in her “purse” back in their proper places around the room.  and then she told her that filling the mystery bag with all that stuff was what babies would do, and that if it happened again she would not be able to come back to school because school was for big kids, not babies.

well, my initial reaction was to be upset with leslie for not following directions, so i told her i was disappointed and that would not be going to mcdonald’s.  she literally cried her eyes out the whole way home.  so, as i was listening to my sobbing three-year-old, i started wondering  what exactly i was so upset about.  was i upset because my child had put some stuff in a bag and pretended it was her purse?  nope.  i think i was mostly upset about her being told that she could not come back to school if she did it again.  she’s three, folks.  three.  and she’s being threatened with expulsion?  i just so want her to have a positive experience at school.  i want her to like her teacher (which she does), i want her teacher to like her, and i want her to have friends.  i know she’s only been in school for four weeks and that i’m probably completely overreacting.  right?

so, what would you do?


7 thoughts on “i need your help

  1. Tricia

    Well, I don’t have kids of my own, but do have nieces and nephews . . . I would find another school. Well, maybe not right away, but I would have a chat with the teacher and/or pre-school director about it. You are right, she is only 3yo! And this is a church pre-school, right? Even worse. I would think it is totally unnecessary to call her a “baby” and threaten her with “expulsion” over such a minor incident. Is she hitting/biting or yelling at other kids? No. I think it is a little overreaction by the teacher, not you. Tough call! I know you will make the right one though. Good luck!

    1. bablinn

      I would talk to the teacher and tell her that you are very disturbed and upset that she called your child a baby – that you discourage name calling at home and that you are disappointed that an adult Leslie loves and respects would resort to shaming and name-calling over such a minor matter. I would also ask her whether she has ever told the children that they cannot play with the bag – because maybe they haven’t. And respectfully request that she not threaten her with expulsion because that is also wildly inappropriate (maybe use a less inflammatory term). The way to avoid being one of “those” mothers is to make sure you also affirm the things she’s doing well.

      Regardless, namecalling a three year old and shaming like that is just NOT OKAY. AT ALL. And just, FYI, Aunt Bridget is super pissed about it…and if a teacher thinks dealing with you mad is bad, wait till she gest a look at me. So there.

  2. Judi

    You know, if this was a public school setting, and Leslie was age 5, I would say, OK, the teacher was not out of line. But, this is Montessori, and Leslie is 3. The whole point of Montessori is for children to learn in a nurturing environment, where they learn and grow not just academically, but emotionally and spiritually. Not so sure that was happening in this situation! It just doesn’t seem very Montessori for a teacher to take a 3-year-old in the hall and threaten her with expulsion if she acts like a baby instead of a big kid. Seems to me like the teacher lost the chance for a teachable moment. She could have said something like, “My, you have been busy! Let’s see if you can remember what was in the bag before you put everything else in there. Now, let’s see if you can remember where you found everything else, and see if you can put it back.” Then, the next time Leslie gets the bag, the teacher could repeat the instructions of guessing the one item in the bag. If Leslie doesn’t follow directions, the teacher could then steer Leslie to another activity. Or something like that — something more supportive and appropriate for a 3-year-old AT A MONTESSORI SCHOOL! It’s not like Leslie stuffed the bag in her backpack and shoplifted it out of the classroom. Leslie was just engaged in some play in the way she has done a zillion times at home.

    If the teacher didn’t have the time or inclination to take a more nurturing approach, then I would wonder why.

    I think you and Michael will need to pray about the situation, maybe see how things go over the next couple of weeks, have a talk with the teacher if something comes up again, and be open to the possibility that this isn’t the right place for Leslie.

  3. Judi

    …And the bribery thing — bites you in the backside every time. I always hated it when my kids didn’t do what I had bribed them to do, because then I was the one who felt punished, because I was the one who had to be the meanie!

  4. Alyssa

    Crazy in my opinion what the teacher said to your little Leslie. Totally over-reacting. Sounds like LEslie was playing during a play time… I don’t think you are over-reacting at all. I would feel the same way that you do. Just talk to Leslie about it and keep reminding her to do her best. I sometimes use bribery. It works. 🙂 Hang in there!

  5. Julie

    I agree with Tricia! Sounds like the teacher was a little bit harsh with her. I know what you mean though. You want everyone to love and adore her just like you do. It’s rough when our kids are old enough where they are exposed to other people and events we can’t control. I’m sure it will all work out.

  6. juiceandgoose Post author

    Thanks, everybody. I talked with Leslie’s teacher tonight and I feel much better about the situation. She agrees with me that Leslie is smart…maybe too smart for her own good sometimes. We both know that she is capable of doing well in the classroom, and after the mystery bag incident, Leslie did much better for the remainder of the day. We agreed to not bring it up with Leslie and to both be encouraging of her having GREAT days from now on. It is just such a huge adjustment for a three-year-old who has never been in a true “school” setting before. She has gone from a mom’s day out classroom of 4 other girls one day a week to a Montessori classroom of 15 other kids, many of them older, five days a week…I think anyone would have a hard time making that jump! Hopefully once she adjusts she’ll be a model student! 🙂


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