An Open Letter to My Son’s Preschool Teachers
Dear preschool teachers,
My son is many things:
One thing he is not:
- a problem
Yet, I believe you consider him to be a problem. The problem child in the class. The one who zigs while everyone else obediently zags. The one who needs help and training on how to transition because he’s never been in a structured environment before. The one that wants to climb and run and play. The one that doesn’t want to mimic the gestures or routines in music class. The boy who knows his shapes and colors already.
Yesterday you handed me the forms for me to sign to have him evaluated by Project Enlightenment, and I had the chance to read the report you had prepared. Nine boxes detailing issues of concern, and you had checked almost all of them. Defiant behavior. Aggression. Motor issues. Attention issues. And then I read the comments. The only positive one was that my son is good with puzzles. Thank you for reducing my 2.5 year old little boy’s only strength to being good with puzzles. And you think he has low muscle tone? By that point, I was in disbelief. Of all the items in your report, that one was the most ludicrous. This child has been climbing up and down stairs well and fearlessly for months. This child loves doing somersaults on our bed.
Again, I wondered who was this child you had described. I must have looked shocked because you hastened to reassure me that these weren’t observations made in one day but over the course of the last 3 months.
I left, went to Barnes & Noble and bought Daniel a new book because that’s what I do after one of these increasingly horrific preschool encounters.
When I walked in at pick-up time, he was sitting a little separate from the rest of the class (whether that was by design due to how you want to separate him to manage any hitting or by accident I don’t know). He looked up at me and smiled. You commented, “what a nice smile!” as if you hadn’t seen him smile before. I thought that was so strange. Is my child smiling at school such a rare occurrence? You told me his behavior during the first half of class had been good like he had been at drop-off but not as good the second part of the day.
It was then I realized that you do not know my child. You see, what I saw at drop-off was a child who had shut down. He had no expression on his face and looked overwhelmed. He looked at the floor as he sat there, and he looked miserable. That’s not my Daniel, and if that’s what you consider to be good, desirable behavior then we have a problem. No wonder you were so shocked to see him smile.
I have no doubt that based on the Daniel you see at school, the person from Project Enlightenment will say he he has a problem. And we will pursue further testing and evaluation to get him any help he needs. I really am glad that you, his teachers, are bringing your concerns to our attention, but what really bothers me is how you seem to have written him off. It’s like we’re all just biding our time until the evaluation happens and you can kick him out. And that we never hear anything positive about him.
He’s not an automaton. He’s a little boy and that you seem to have forgotten that…THAT’s the problem.