Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Mama Lion

I'm sure every mom wants the best for their child. I am no exception. I imagine most would fight for that, do their best to get it. 

I am that mom, today, but also, totally don't want to be that mom.

Having a little problem with the Kindergarten teacher, I am. See, the preschool teacher supposedly was putting in a recommendation for a specific teacher, because she was more nurturing, does better with kids who are not daycare kids, etc. So of coarse I wanted that teacher for my child, and assumed that her recommendation would "make it happen." It did not. Either she did not put in the recommendation as she said she would, or it got lost or overlooked. Whatever. So after a month and a half of talking about Mrs. B, we get the class list saying he has Mrs. A. Ummm... shock-o, and suck-o. I called the principal the next day, who basically said that the classes were already made out so there really wasn't anything she could do, but if something changed over the summer she would keep him in mind.

Fast forward to the beginning of the school year. We have managed to talk up Mrs. A, and B-boy is all ready to go to Kindergarten, maybe even a little excited, with Mrs. A. We go to the pre-school conference, and it was a little weird. She did not greet him, didn't say "welcome to my room", didn't introduce herself to him or me, didn't show us around, just ushered us in and seemed in a hurry to put away his supplies. Well, see, I'VE NEVER MET THIS LADY! And neither had he. So much for first impressions. She showed him where to put his stuff, then talked to me about the snack schedule and signing up to chaperone and all that lovely stuff. Then sent us on our way. I walked away feeling.... unsettled.

Today, first day of school, I drop him off. We walk into the classroom, which is oddly quiet for kindergarteners, and she barely says hi, no good morning or anything, takes his folder, then walks away, leaving us to stand there, not knowing what to do next. No direction, doesn't really even pay us any attention. Doesn't show him where to sit or say what they're doing. So, seeing the other children are coloring, I look for his box, and then say "let's look for your seat." She's by us now, and hears my comment about how another boy is in his spot so she switches around the name cards, and then again walks away. I stand there a minute, make sure he's fine, and leave. But I want to cry? Is she really taking care of him and his needs on this first day of a new thing? Is she making sure he's ok, feels confident, safe?

So now what? Do I say something to her? Do I explain to her that he had a rough time in preschool and that it's very important to me that he have a great start here? That it's important to me that he want to be there? That I need her to do the best she can to help make that happen? Nurturuing, encouraging, enthusiastic, motivating? Do I say something today? Tomorrow? Next week? Do I talk to the principal again about switching teachers? Is that too traumatic for my child? Do I just let it go and hope for the best? Is it just me who needs my hand held?

Any other grade, I would say, Make lemonade out of lemons, this is a life lesson in how to get along with people you may not like a whole lot. But for kindergarten? No. This is his introduction to the next 12 years of his life. And it's important to me that it's a good one. So please pardon the mama-lion coming out in me. This is, after all, my first born child. And I'm new to this too.

Can anyone offer any help? Comments? Thoughts? Suggestions? Please?

Thank you.


  1. I would say something to her, not in front of your son of course but I would let her know your concerns! So sorry your day had to be like this!


  2. Sometimes when I've been unhappy with teachers, it doesn't seem to bother my kids at all. But I wouldn't shy away from a conversation with her and the principal if necessary to express your concerns. I have to pick my battles with the school. But you have to be an advocate for your child. Even if he doesn't have the best teacher, he has a loving, caring mom and that is more important.

    I also volunteer at the school which is hard with other little ones but it is great to see what really goes on and get a read on the other kids and staff.

    Hope you get some resolution!

  3. Hey there. I really feel your pain. I would actually wait until this afternoon to see how his day was....before going in with guns blazin'!

    That said, my son had an awful start to Kindergarten...which I attributed to an adjustment period. A month later, he was still crying morning and afternoon....the teacher was no help, the principal was REALLY no help, and other parents were having the same problems.

    I ended up pulling my son out and putting him in a different school. more tears.

    But, maybe the teacher was just frazzled yesterday and this morning...and his day will be great.

    I would wait and see!

    First day of Kindergarten for moms (especially with the firstborn) is one of the toughest days! It gets easier! I promise.

  4. I had exactly the same experience as Meghan, with the same result. We moved my daughter to another school and presto... new child (who loves school and is in 2nd grade now).

    I definitely wouldn't wait. Even if your son has a good day she needs to be aware of how she comes across to new parents and kids! Hopefully she just doesn't know and can correct it. If you don't get anywhere there, then go to the principal.

    Oh good luck! I have so been in your shoes and it's no fun. :(

  5. My daughter had an odd teacher in Kindergarten, not the sweet chirpy Kindergarten teacher I had envisioned. I tried all year to please the lady, but it just couldn't be done. I eventually went to the principle concerning a particular bullying issue which the teacher thought was good for my daughter to be bullied as she believed it would teach her to deal with all people and would build up a thick skin on my daughter- uh, she was 5 and I don't want her to have thick skin. Going to the principle only made it worse as the staff always has each others' back. I ended up pulling her out in April of that year. I homeschooled her until this year, now she is going to school in third grade for the first time since Kindergarten. She loves school plus she's ahead of the class. Sometimes the teacher is a bit fussy, but now she can deal with it and it doesn't stress her out. I have a 3 year old and I know he isn't going to school until third grade. It's just too much at such an early age and let's face it, teachers come in all shapes, sizes, and mental disorders and our "babies" DON'T have to deal with it.

  6. As a former teacher, first talk to your child. Ask how his day went, his fave part & worst part. See what HE thinks first. Then maybe reassure yourself by talking to others that have had this teacher or other teachers that can attest to her skills. Nothing kills the start to a school year more than a parent going straight to the Principal or feeling like you are against her from the get-go. I KNOW you want to help your child, but if she is really "prickly" then it will just make her worse if SHE thinks this was handled wrong...or if SHE feels attacked. Hope this helps! Good luck to your son!!

  7. Lots of good comments! Thanks so much for taking the time. And Kristina- thanks for the teacher's perspective. That's what I want to avoid, and I know I need to cool my jets before I go in there, guns blazing! I did plan to talk with him first, and see how he feels, make my decision from there.
    He hated preschool for the first year and a half, until I pulled him out, and after a month he was ready to go back. And he was a different kid. He is a little behind on K skills, due to lack of interest, on learning letters, writing, etc. It's not an option to hold him back, as he has a sister right behind him, and that would be bad - same grade. No way. I hope I'm just worried for nothing, but just in case, how far do I take it? Eventually, he'll be in this district, whether this yr or next. And I'd prefer not to HS. I don't have enough patience or organization for that.

  8. I think you should go with your gut on this. If your mommy instinct says something isnt right then you should say something. I dont know anything about the teacher b/c you didnt say much about her. Maybe this is her first year teaching...or her first year teaching kindergarden. Or maybe she was just having an off day....or maybe this is just her personality..or her lack of personality. I dont know if I would say something today, talk to your son first and see how the day went, see how things go in the morning when you drop him off...maybe talk to some of the other parents when you are picking him up from school and see what they think of her....but no matter what you do start with her. Dont go to the principle until you have talked with the teacher b/c that almost always ends up causing more trouble.

  9. Last year my first born started kindergarten. From the very start things were not how I had hoped they would be. As you said my son is not a "daycare" kid and I was worried about the environment being right for him. It was a double whammy for me, my background is early childhood education and I know the state regulations forward and backwards. I was also an active volunteer in her classroom so I saw her attitude and the way the children were treated.
    I was unsure how to handle the situation and took several issues up directly with the teacher to no avail. I choose not to approach the principal because they had already put out several letters about not switching students and that parent request would not be honored, also did not want to be *that* mom.
    As the year progressed there were more and more issues and as the year concluded I decided that this would be the one and only time I would not be *that* mom. If you will this was their free pass. My son did not enjoy his year in kindergarten nearly as much as he should have and by the end of the year I found three other students *had* been switched out of that classroom.
    Our children count on us. Start with the teacher today and then move on to the principal if that doesn't work and don't forget they do answer to the school board and superintendents. Good Luck!

  10. She is a seasoned teacher, older (50's?) and she has taught K most of that time, I'm sure.

    Ours is a small district, so I know that they want to keep kids in the district.

    Again, I hope it doesn't come to that, and that my son is happy (even if I'm not thrilled) as she's HIS teacher, not mine. :D

    I have also thought about asking HER how the day went, and using that as a springboard to talk about my child and my concerns about his success, hoping she'll get the msg.

  11. How did your son act when you were leaving him? I believe sometimes adults try to just expect kids to adjust and try not to make a big deal out of situations like this and sometimes it works! You know like when your kid gets a boo boo and instead of being like "OMG, blah blah blah. . ." you are more just like "you are ok" and then they are. If he didn't cry and was happy at the end of the day I would just sit back and watch and wait. Maybe volunteer in the room and see how things really go. My mom works in a kindergarten room and has for close to 20 years, she has seen a lot and I have heard a lot. If there were no tears from the child (mom not included) you are off to a great start!!! ;)

  12. ugh! Sorry it's not starting well. I agree with seeing how your son is feeling about his teacher, class, etc., (not just his words about it, but of course his behavior), and using that to guide you. I think it never hurts to ask questions and to advocate for what your child needs. You might try approaching the teacher with open ended questions like, "Tell me more about your teaching philosophy/classroom management plan/etc?" or whatever else makes sense to open up a dialog. Then after you've heard what she has to say, you can say, well, let me tell you more about my kid and what works for him. Or, OK I understand what you're saying, however my concern is x,y,z.
    Good luck, and keep us posted!

  13. I think you could handle this, and feel better if you scheduled a conference alone with her. I wouldn't say anything about her, but I would just mention that he had a hard time in preschool, tell her you are worried about him adjusting to Kindergarden, and then leave the ball in her court, and see what she says.

    She will now how your child on her radar, know that you have concerns, and you can see what she does with them for a week or two. I went in and had a conference with Isaac's teacher this year the first week of school, as his teacher was great, but he was having a really hard time. It made me feel better, and then when I see her, she makes comments to me, and let's me know how he's doing through email. Every teacher is different, but you could ask her the first week or two at the end of the week, if she didn't mind dropping you an email and letting you know how she thinks he's adjusting.

    She might have had an off day or two. Maybe something personal is going on - marriage, health scare, who knows, and she's just not herself right now. Or maybe she's used to parents whose kids are in Day Care (and some treat Kindergarden like Day Care) and not used to having a parent that cares anymore.

    Just throwing out lots of let us know what you decide!

  14. Wow - I just did my biggest pet peeve and didn't read that before I sent it!!! so sorry about the ridiculous typos!!!

  15. I didn't read all the comments, so my apologies if this idea has been stated. . .

    This situation really stinks! I used to teach kindergarten and would never dream of leaving a family in the lurch like she has. . .twice! However, despite being a teacher, she is JUST a person who is affected by stress, etc in the same way we all are. Perhaps she has something going on in her life that is causing her to behave in this way. (I'm not trying to defend her; just trying to give her the benefit of the doubt.) My suggestion is to treat her the way you want your child to be treated. Tomorrow, "Hi Mrs. B! We are so excited you are little man's teacher!" (I know this would be a lie, but imagine how she is going to feel when she hears it!) Everyday, do your best to be upbeat, polite and kind.

    Perhaps she has always been told how great Mrs. A is and how the parents always love Mrs. A. Maybe she is always having to compete with a teacher of whose caliber she has not yet achieved. I know it would put me on edge when meeting parents if I knew that they were already disappointed to have me. (Again, not defending. Just trying to give the benefit of the doubt.) If you can somehow reassure her that you do believe she can be a great teacher for your son, then, when you do have issues - which, unfortunately with her attitude, you may - she will be more open to listening to you rather than writing you off as a "mama lion."

    I hope this helps, but I know it's worth what you paid for it!! ; ) Good luck!