This week, I did something on my “I Would Never” list. I decided to pull Jake out of preschool. Granted, it’s only a week early and so my decision isn’t as dramatic as it would have been if it were made in the middle of the year.
There are a few reasons that pulling Jake out of preschool is on my “I Would Never” list. I used to work in the office of a non-profit organization that had a preschool. A lot of my job was giving tours, talking with parents, enrolling students, and making sure the our operations ran smoothly. I loved that part of my job. I loved knowing all 70+ kids and their parents. I loved that my office was next to the bathroom and that frequently a few students would escape their classmates and come chat with me. I talked with happy parents and unhappy parents. I saw parents pull their kids out because of a misunderstanding or without putting the work into making the situation better. I swore I would never be one of those parents.
Jake has been in preschool for two years with a lot of ups and down. His first class was wildly successful and we even gained a life-long friend out of one of his teachers. (We love you, Miss Jamie!) When the teachers of that class were promoted or were given amazing career advancement opportunities, I cheered them on as they left. Their replacements were not as good as they were and I saw Jake begin to struggle. We finished out the end of the year and I decided that if that staff came back, I would ask that Jake be placed in a different classroom. Fortunately, we were blessed with another amazing staff of teachers. I was so ecstatic that Jake would finish out preschool strong and happy.
Of course, life doesn’t go in a straight line and in February, we picked up and moved our lives from Colorado to California. One of my jobs was to find a good preschool. And, I did. I loved the teacher. She was calm, sweet, solid, firm, organized, and flexible. All the things you look for in a teacher of small children. I came in about a month ago to a teary-eyed teacher who told me that her husband got a transfer and she was moving. If anybody understand the need to go towards a better job, it’s me. I gave her lots of hugs and wished her well.
As soon as she left, I saw the dynamic change. The kids were quiet. Too quiet. Jake went from bouncing around the house and laughing to a quiet, still little person when we got to school. At pick up, I got bad report after bad report. It was exhausting, frustrating, and beyond my understanding. We expected some regression and attitude problems that come with big moves. The things that Jake did were so far beyond those things that it really upset all of us. I started to question myself. I started to question Jake. I started to wonder if he was ready for Kindergarten. I was scared.
Then, the over the top thing happened at school. For his protection, mine, and the school’s, I am not going to say what actually happened. But, the way it was handled was not cool. The teacher repeatedly accused Jake of lying about what had happened. When I reminded her that he his brain and his mouth don’t always connect, she told me that I was wrong and that he was lying. I left feeling attacked and like I was unable to stand up for my child. The teacher said and did things that clearly crossed my line in the sand, which if you know me is pretty far down the road of bad behavior.
The next school day, I went back and talked to the teacher when I wasn’t angry and we worked out what had happened. I turned to say goodbye to Jake and he had tears in his eyes that I was leaving. This is the child who I have to make come over to me to give me kisses when I leave. He really doesn’t care less that I am going because KIDS AND TOYS AND FRIENDS AND FUN!
I decided to sit in on the class, even though I needed to be somewhere else. After an hour in the class, I suddenly understood why Jake was struggling. The teacher is impatient, unorganized, easily frustrated and I was horrified at the amount of time that four year olds were asked to “sit quietly, hands in your lap” while she got herself pulled together. No wonder Jake has been wiggling around until he falls out of his chair. I wanted to do the same thing myself!
Since Jake isn’t in danger and still wants to go play with his friends, I decided we’d finish out the year. When I went to pick him up on Wednesday, I realized that I had worried about him the whole day. He didn’t have a great day and suddenly “I would never put my child in a bad situation” rose above “I would never pull my child out of preschool”.
While I don’t believe the class is in any physical danger, it is no longer the right place for Jake. I’m relieved that we don’t have to go find yet another preschool. Our summer just gets to start a little early. I’m really happy about that.
I am in the process of writing a letter to the director telling her that we are leaving early and although he wouldn’t be returning anyway since he is headed to Kindergarten, that given the option to return, I wouldn’t bring Jake back. I also can’t recommend anyone enroll their child in their school. I want to be polite but firm and offer an open line of communication for a healthy conversation. If she chooses not to take me up on that, there isn’t much I can do about that.
I’m determined to leave with grace and my head held high with the understanding that sometimes, the “I Would Never” list needs to get chucked out the window.
So, yay for summer and yay for a happier Jake.