Thursday, September 22, 2011

Woke up Worrying

Reuben is very happy with school, except for one thing: the morning playground.

The problem is there is not an adult presence on the playground. There are two aids and the whole student body, and the aids don't respond to anything. And, one of the aids is a parent volunteer who is being taken advantage of because he offered to watch the kindergarten playground, which the school refuses to do, instead making him watch the whole student body. The parents are invited to the playground to watch, and I have every single day, but fast approaching is the day where its not feasible for Simeon and I to watch Reuben play on the playground for 5 minutes. And, don't you think it's the schools responsibility to provide a safe environment. Am I crazy for thinking that I should be able to drive up to the school, and watch from the car as he enters the playground and not be worried about what will happen?

I'm not the only parent concerned, and Reuben is not the only child who has had a problem.

But just so you know that I am justified, and not just over protective these are the problems Reuben has encountered: Some older boy spanked Reuben. I don't even spank Reuben, and he was not in a football uniform so I have no idea how this can be acceptable. There are boys throwing wood chips (which is to be expected) but no one stopping them, so I had to.

Reuben grew up on playgrounds, crowded, New York City playgrounds. He knows how to act on a playground. And he knows what to do when something negative happens (ask the kid to stop, and then tell an adult if s/he won't.) That is how I know about the boy touching Reuben's bottom, my little boy is mature enough to tell me because he felt like it was a bad touch. And how I know, that the day after I told Reuben and two of his friends to stop throwing wood chips, that those two boys threw wood chips at Reuben again and hurt his eye. Reuben came running up to me, "they are throwing wood chips again and they won't stop when I ask them to, and it got in my eye!" "did you throw any?" I asked, "No, I don't want to get in trouble again." he said. (He was mortified that day I went up to him and his friends and told them to stop.) Is it just me, or should there be a staff member there for him to go to after he asks the boys to stop?

All of my sisters are teachers, and I've heard an earful about problem parents. And, I was often embarrassed by my 'involved' parent. (Admittedly, I am also thankful to her.) So I was going to be a model parent. Sane, and involved, but not trying to find fault. But, I really can't let this one go! If you know Reuben, how he plays, and how he treats other people you can see that if my kid is having a problem he is definitely not the only one. I'm justified right?

I woke up at 2 worried about this. I drafted an email to the principal because I have already brought the concern to the teacher, and know she has met with the principal with no resolution. I'm so upset about it! It's just heart breaking that Reuben isn't completely happy, and the only thing that is holding him back from absolutely loving school is the playground.

Being a parent is hard. Just when you have figured out how to best disciple your child, and teach your child in a way he responds to you have to send him off to some place where he doesn't feel safe (justifiable so, because the aids that are there don't intervene when negative behavior is present, and there aren't enough aids to begin with).

Tell me I'm right. Or tell me to cool it (but do it nicely because I'm pretty upset).Gah!


Klous Family said...

This is all sorts of rediculous. Common sense says to have the necessary amount of adults on a playground full of kids. You keep fighting this, Brecken! GOOD LUCK!!

Lark said...

Talk to your mother she knows how you can be suspenseful in approaching the needs of yours own children. You are the authority when it comes to the need of your child. Talk about your child's needs not any one else. Your have no authority over other children but you have God given authority over your own. Present a plan 1. What your child will do to help. 2. What you will do to help. 3. What the school can possible do to help. Ask them to follow through as you and your child will also follow through. Pray for help with the plan and for words and never loose your cool. Although twice your mother burst into tears. Once with a kindergarten teacher and once with a middle school counselor. That got their attention. And once she apologized to a middle school secretary who should have been the one to apologize.

My Name Isn't Jerry said...

The school is allowing students to play as they arrive to accommodate parent work schedules.

The way they see it, they are doing the parents a favor.

Suggestion: Your student does not have to be on the playground in the morning. You can arrive 3 minutes later. Just in time for Reuben to hear his teacher's call and get in line.

If you aim to save the world: The best way to solve a problem is to fix it yourself.

ie Parents who do not want their child run over after school volunteer to yell at stupid parents who break the carpool rules (Where an orange vest, carry a clipboard, and enforce the rules), or organize many volunteers to do the same.

Teachers do what they can, but they're also attempting to prepare for the day, answer parent questions, reorganize their classroom, clean the teacher's lounge, grade, create rubrics, rewrite seating charts, monitor classroom behavior, load the kiln, unload the kiln, purchase supplies, etc. They feel overworked, and often complete their work off the clock. Although they never really complete it.

My favorite parents are those who show up and get stuff done. Like Liz. She's here every Friday.

Becki said...

Brecken I think you have every right to be upset...and pursue attempting to find a resolution. I don't know that things will change, but I think writing a letter to the principal would be a good idea...and if that doesn't help or solve it...then I like the last comment on here about showing up a little later and having him there just in time to go in??? It's not really fair to Reuben, because he should be able to play...but keeping him safe is most important. However, the kid who is spanking kids??? That's NOT ok??? But that poor kid...what's he going through at home??? :( Sad...
Well...I wish I had more ideas or advice...but you are right to be upset and frustrated. This is YOUR kid and you still need to be able to stand up for him and be his voice until he's old enough to do it himself. Good CAN do it!!!

Lark said...

I once went to the police to report a real danger to my children. Who while crossing in the crosswalk were blocked in the road by a parent pulling up and stopping in front of the school door and another parent driving through the crosswalk while my kids were still in the middle of the road blocked by the stopped car. The police told my it was up to the school to police the roads around the elementary school.

Michael and Natalie said...

I was thinking also why he was there on the playground before school. Does this happen at lunch as well? I think you'd be smart to bring it up, but in the mean time I would document every single incident he makes you aware of in a very detailed manner. I used to hate being "that" person in many situations, but as I've grown into an adult, I realize that sometimes it's necessary. If you do approach the principle, I would have a few solutions prepared, and then ask why those solutions wouldn't be possible. Be prepared to help.

Morgan said...

well my first thought was, wow, that really sucks that this is happening, and it shouldn't be happening. but after thinking about it a little bit, i kind of think they are probably doing the best they can right now. most schools don't have a lot of money to hire extra staff just to monitor the playground, and the already paid staff are probably super busy in the mornings. i am thinking that if you want a solution, you are going to have to be a part of it. whether it's organizing a volunteer sign up for parents to take turns monitoring the playground in the mornings, or watching the playground yourself. you're right, ideally, you should be able to drop your kid off and feel confident that they are in a safe environment. unfortunately, that is not happening and i am sure the principal feels bad about it. especially if something like "spanking" is going on. i agree with natalie, if you talk to the principal, which i think you should, have a few possible solutions...

ie: parents volunteer to take turns, or the teachers are responsible for being on the playground one day a week (now that I think about it, I am pretty sure this is how my elementary school did it... they had 2 parent yard duties, and the teachers were assigned to yard duty once a week). or maybe bigger kids and smaller kids are should be separated on the playground.

anyway... it's good and important to be involved, so i think you are right to be proactive and talk to them about this.

Jessica said...

I think you are totally right to be concerned, and I would definitely contact the principal. I'm willing to bet that some of the teachers even share your concern, so I wouldn't worry too much about coming off as a "problem parent".

I'm sure it's a money issue, but student safety should be a priority and they ought to do something about it. I'm sure the school can be held liable if there are injuries on the playground, so you'd think they'd want to cover their butts.

You might want to consider approaching other parents and having them contact the principal too, because people are much more likely to take notice if several parents are voicing concern. Also, are there PTA meetings where you could bring up the issue?

I think some of the suggestions above are good ideas too--if you can get some parent volunteers organized, I would definitely do that, and until something is done, I would take Reuben to school a little later (although I know that's not fair to him).

Are the same types of problems happening at recess, or is it just before school?

Talyn said...

If this is the before school starts playground time, Jordan's right. The teacher's (13 minutes) of morning prep time is a contract issue that the principal won't be able to touch. Not that you would want to, because the teachers are prepping for what your child is actually at school for. And the principal will almost certainly not be able to find money to pay for morning aides. So if it became a liability issue (like somebody said), I can see morning playground time turning into all the of kids in the school have to sit on their behinds in the gym time.

I imagine the principal will tell you that the parents are responsible for the well being of their children until school starts.

I don't mean that you should give up. I just mean to prepare you for what you'll probably get from the principal. You also shouldn't be responsible to police the whole playground every day, but I bet in a neighborhood like yours among just the kindergarten parents you could easily find a week and probably two weeks worth of volunteers to share the responsibility with. What you'll want from the principal is legitimacy. You need access to the school's discipline program, (While slips, or check marks, or write ups or whatever) and you need backing from the principal. So they know who is coming and maybe they can provide training of some sort so you're all on the same page. Being on the same page will make a huge difference with how/if the kids will respect you.

And you probably ought to be prepared not to be taken advantage of. Tell the principal up front you're not volunteering for the whole playground, just the kindergarten section.