* Ideas brewing

A coworker sent me a link to this article today, and I just wanted to pass it along, since it seems to be a growing problem. The gist of it is that more and more children are being expelled from their preschools for behavior that isn't all that out of the ordinary for kids that age.

Although Hercules was never expelled from a preschool, he had plenty of problems during those years. In fact, the first place he went to when he was 2 was a home-based childcare arrangement, and after a few months the woman very politely asked me to find another place for Rio, saying he was just "too much" for her to handle anymore, and she had more infants in her care than previously. His next daycare gave me a lot of grief because he wasn't potty-trained on their schedule. It was highly reminiscent of this portion of the article:

Kyle DeNigris, 5, had exhibited some aggressive tendencies before arriving at Kangaroo's Korner a few years back. Mom Raquel says that at his previous center, Kyle was placed with younger children because he wasn't yet potty-trained. As a result, "he was bored, and so he acted out," she says.
Potty-training Hercules was a long, laborious process and no one wanted to see him out of diapers more than I did. But I was pretty sure that holding him back with smaller, slower, more fragile children wasn't the right answer. Fortunately, I moved away and we found a new preschool before the issue escalated. Unfortunately, his next preschool had their own way of dealing with discipline problems: pinching.

Rio's preschool years were extremely difficult, and I was often meeting with his childcare providers on ways to deal with his behavior (we moved around a lot, which probably didn't help). They were always asking me for ideas as to how to handle him, while I was always hoping they could give me some pointers. I mean, they are supposed to be the professionals! I'm at my wit's end here, people! His last preschool, a Head Start Center, was more willing than anyone to work on a solution to his problems. They also warned me that Kindergarten was going to be tough for Hercules. That turned out to be a prophetic understatement.

Hercules has come a long way since then, but we still have more obstacles ahead. My experience has caused me to question the expectations we have for young children in schools, and the environment/society in which we are raising our kids. All this has recently prompted me to consider a possible project for the future, which seems rather unattainable at the moment, but one that I hope to pursue someday, somehow, depending on how the universe unfolds in the meanwhile. But I have been thinking about starting an after-school program for kids with behavioral problems, such as kids with ADD/ADHD. It would be a program based on outdoor activities, with play-centered learning opportunities as the focus. But there would be NO television, video games, or any activity that involved sitting still.

If I had more credentials as a child educator, I would consider opening a full-time school for such kids, but I have none. Even my credentials in Outdoor Education are shaky at best, but I think I could make a pretty good case for it. The other catch is that I don't just want to make this service available to upper middle class families who can afford to pay for after-school care. On the contrary, I want to be able to serve low-income kids who are most likely to get the shaft when it comes to special needs and services in public schools. But I also would like to get paid for my efforts, so I figure I'm looking at grant funding. Which means I need some credentials. This could get complicated.

Not to mention the fact that all of this involves me quitting my day job, relinquishing my benefits and becoming self-employed. Which is actually a very real goal of mine, but not one that I expect to be able to pull off nearly as soon as I would like. And what happens when my husband is ready to start his business? Then who will provide our health insurance? There are a lot of complications indeed. I've got a lot of research to do. We'll see if anything materializes. Wish me luck!

3 Comments:

Blogger momma-yaya said...

ahh, we are kindred spirits, I think. And our children are kindred, as well. J wasn't using the potty until he was well into his fourth year of life. Luckily his preschool at the time had no real issues with it, and they turned out to offer the ONLY incentive to start his potty career that ever worked (in order to stay for extended play sessions you had to be potty trained--after he learned that it took one week). I always dream of creating a non-competitive, nature and exploration based, affordable kid camp. I also dream of starting up a whole school. I have no credentials, either. Long ago I considered getting teaching certification, but I mistrusted my resolve. One of my favorite books to read when I get into these dreamy times is Marva Collins' Way. Very inspirational. I think you can do it!

9/23/2005 3:48 PM  
Anonymous reneemay said...

thanks yaya! i need all the encouragement i can get:) it's still hard to say what the future holds for me, but as long as i can someday be home for rio after school, i'll count my blessings.

i'll have to look for that book at the library. sounds promising.

9/26/2005 10:50 AM  
Anonymous Kari said...

Sigh. I have similar issues with my son.

I agree that a play-centered school (or after-school) program would be great for kids in the ADD/ADHD/PDD/SID range. My mother has often recommended that I homeschool my son. But I know I don't have the patience to do that, and it would be doing him a disservice to keep him away from social contact.

But if "someone else" were willing to set up such a program, I would happily enroll my son there!

Best of luck!

9/27/2005 8:09 PM  

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