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Problems with Preschool

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Pre-School in danger of closing - seeking options

Jan 2012

My four year-old son is in a pre-school that is in danger of closing, but the parents all want our kids to stay together. We love the teachers. If the school closes, is there any way to ''retain'' the teachers and keep the kids together? I can't imagine what this might involve but am hoping someone has advice for the legal and practical implications (licensing? finding a space? taxes?) Thank you for any advice - love our teachers


There are numerous options for your group of parents and teachers. The most important question is why the school might be closing. Is the reason that the facility site is no longer available? If this is the case, then you all just need to find a new location. Usually, notice is given about when the location is no longer available; so, you know what the deadline is for finding a new site. Once you find a new site, then you just need to have a new site application submitted to licensing. Of course, you need to make sure all of the prerequisites are met such as having a qualified director, having the new site meet safety requirements, proper facility size for the anticipated capacity, etc.

If the reason for the closure is more legal (e.g. serious licensing violations at the site, no qualified director, etc), then this is a more difficult question to answer. I would highly recommend you give a call to Community Care Licensing in Oakland. If the case is in Licensing's Legal office, then you can ask to speak to the attorney assigned to the case to get more info on what is going on with the case, and to get an idea of timelines for possible closure, and options available to parents and teachers.

For background on the facility's problems, I would highly recommend you look at the archives of your child's pre-school in two places: here on BPN - if there are violations that are possibly shutting down the facility now, I am willing to bet other parents complained about those problems in the past; and in Licensing's facility file for the pre-school - same bet for these files.

The Licensing office at 1515 Clay Street in Oakland is your best place to start to get answers to your questions. A second option is to call up Bananas to see what other options may be available to you. They are a great resource for child care questions. hopes this helps point you in the right direction


Chaotic Preschool

Dec 2010

My daughter started preschool in September, and in many ways it is wonderful. She is normally shy, but I see her coming out of her shell and making friends. She is in a room with mostly 2 and 3 year olds. However, I'm concerned about the level of chaos I see in the classroom, and I'm hoping the BPN community can tell me if my concern is justified, or what I'm describing is par for the course with this age group.

There have been a number of incidents in the school with a couple of children hitting and biting other kids (even drawing blood), with little action on the part of the school to address the problem; and when I observe the classroom, it is usually mayhem- multiple children crying, screaming, and fighting at any given time. The teachers seem stretched very thin. And the Director recently left with very little notice. One of the teachers will be taking on his administrative responsibilities (which means she is less available in the classroom).

During the preschool selection process, I visited a number of Montessori schools, and I was impressed with the order and calm of the classroom. However, I chose this play-based school because I thought it would be better for my daughter and her social skills. (I'm not concerned about ''academics'' at this age.) And because I really liked the director at the time (who has left). I was willing to overlook the chaos in September, but I thought the environment would be less stressful by December. My daughter does seem happy at the school, and she is attached to her teachers and making friends. We're coming upon renewal time, and I'm trying to decide if I should sign up for another year or try a different school. Advice? Unsure parent


It sounds like you have valid concerns that you should look into further. My children have both gone to play based preschools and their classrooms have not been chaotic. Busy but not chaotic. In fact, Ive always been amazed that there is a well thought out plan behind all the activity. At the start of the first year there were sometimes kids crying because of the transition to preschool. Other than that, it always seems to be a happy place. If I were you, I'd listen to your gut and check out some other schools. Then again, if your gut tells you your child is thriving thefr, that's important too. Good luck! Beth, Oakland
I am pretty sure that i have a child in the class you are describing, and I have to say [if I'm guessing correctly that we're at the same school] that I don't really perceive the same level of chaos that you describe -- I would be very happy to discuss with you offline in more detail...but in brief, let me say this -- we have an older child who was in a highly regarded playbased preschool a couple of years ago, and our main concern about it was that it was *way* too chaotic -- it was much larger, and the yard was laid out in such a way that the teachers were not always able to see what was happening. I, too, considered montessori, but couldn't find a program that seemed quite right for our family for a variety of reasons. Instead, we switched to our current school, and I am much happier with it (so, do know that things can be much worse, and if switching, you would want to choose carefully...)

As far as a general reply to the question, I do think that transition times, especially drop off and pick up, are often the most chaotic times for this age group, so it might be very helpful to try to observe at another time to see what is happening. and of course, most important would be the teacher's responses to your concerns. here again i have been very impressed with our current school. But let's talk more, if you'd like, as I do think that we may be able to discuss details and approaches more if our kids are, in fact, classmates. ml


Hi there, This may come down to parental preference. For me, many preschools are on the chaotic side. We're taking my son out of preschool precisely because he IS more of a loner and doesn't like the noise and chaos so much (and our play-based preschool sounds much less chaotic than yours). Our son does better with one-on-one playdates with other kids he likes.

As a parent, I get overwhelmed with lots of preschoolers running around and making noise and being chaotic. And I have years of coping mechanisms. I think it must be a lot harder on many preschoolers, but they have no choice, so they cope as well as they can.

Mostly, though, you sounded fairly unsatisfied with the school. So I say go with your gut and find another school. And if it's an option, you can take your daughter out of preschool completely. She'll have plenty of time to learn to socialize when she's 5 (or 4) and she (and the other kids!) are more mature. Right now, she mostly needs attentive adults.

All the best to you and your family opting out of preschool


My daughter attended a play based preschool which was not nearly as chaotic as you describe, but which did have a lot going on. After her three year old year we visited The Berkeley School (Berkeley Montessori at the time). I'll never forget how strikingly and visibly she relaxed in a calmer environment. Her whole little body changed. Ultimately I moved her there. She didn't feel academically ''pushed;'' she felt free and safe to explore. She also felt freer to interact socially in an environment where she didn't feel such sensory overload. There is a lot of space to play and run and imagine and be silly, and-- this is key--the environment allows kids to pace themselves and self-regulate with some quiet time to explore and investigate and discover. I wish I had realized sooner how stressful the high energy chaos was for her. TBS turned out, for her at least, to be a better place to work on the social skills and gain confidence as a learner. I think the program at the preschool now is even stronger- drawing from Montessori, and Reggio Emilia, and Teaching for Understanding. I suggest you visit- and pay attention to your daughter's body language when you do. I wish you well in finding a good fit for her. Happy mom of a happy girl
Finding the right fit for your child is key. My very boisterous, confident, physical boy attended a play based preschool that may have been chaotic for some but was perfect for him. For his preK year we checked out another very well known preschool and I was shocked that it was so quiet you could hear a pin dropped. In fact, a boy who knew my son yelled a greeting and was immediately told to use an inside voice. As we left my insightful boy said- ''that place is too calm for me!'' I agreed. good luck

Disappearing items at preschool

Nov 2010

My 3-year old daughter is attending a preschool where our personal items seem to ''disappear'' frequently.

I have lost multiple BPA-free sippy cups/bottles with her name written on them and spare clothing (underwear, pants, shirt).

Today was the last draw. Her warm winter coat has gone missing. It was expensive.

How do I address this issue with the school? Everytime an item has gone missing I have asked around for it, asked the director and teachers, etc. They say they will look for it and then the topic is dropped. I go out and buy a replacement. Tired of the fairy snatchers


Once my son's jacket disappeared. It turned out a nanny had mistaken it for her sittee's jacket as it was similar (blue fleece). It turned up but it took a few days. Maybe talking to the other parents will help turn up some of your stuff. I know I am guilty of just keeping some stray plastic forks and spoons that come home in my child's lunchbox on occasion--I don't know what to do with them. Maybe you can organize a big lost and found box & get everyone to look around their house for stuff that's not theirs. Or just send cheap stuff to school if that's the only solution. anon
I had one kid who never lost anything at any school, preschool through high school. My other one, well, he has lost many items! some of it is the kid, some of it is the school, and some of it is other parents. During preschool years, as soon as our extra clothes disappeared from school or were seen on other children, I refused to replace. When the school complained, I responded with my list of missing items and explained that i would not be supplying the entire school with extra clothes! We made sure the child who was prone to losing jackets never went to school wearing anything but the cheapest Target jacket. Those never seemed to disappear but get the kid a nice jacket and it was gone instantly. Honestly, I think other parents take them. I once caught another parent putting my kid's clothing on her kid at school. Bottom line, don't send any belongings to school that you aren't willing to lose. Fortunately it's hard for them to lose the child! been there, shop target now
Preschool is when it starts, but I am here to tell you that it continues for the next 15 years, depending on how forgetful your kid is (mine are very forgetful.) And it's not just at school, but also at summer camp, on play dates, at sleepovers, and on family vacations. I wouldn't be so sure your daughter's posessions are being snatched. Usually the item has been set down by the child in some non-standard place and either no one has noticed (yet), or another child has picked it up, or the carpool parent grabbed it by mistake, or who knows. Over the years I have ended up with a variety of other childrens' jackets, sweaters, shoes, pillows, rain pants, hoodies, water bottles, baseball caps, etc.. I always do due diligance to try to find the owner, but there is only so much someone can do to track down the owner. And there is always the day when you clean out the closet and find that jacket that's been in there for who-knows-how-long and came from who-knows-where! You said your child's things were labelled, but labels come off, or go unnoticed. You should see the lost and found boxes at a big summer camp program like Cal Blue Camp - after just a few weeks, there will be 6 or 8 big boxes overflowing with hoodies, water bottles, lunch boxes, swim goggles, towels, caps. The staff puts on regular "fashion shows" of lost stuff to try to jog the kids' memories about their lost stuff!
Anyway, here are some tips I have learned over the years with three kids:
  1. Name and phone number on every item that leaves your house.
  2. Nothing leaves the house that would cause upset if it is lost (very important for toys!)
  3. Always inventory, every day, when you pick her up. You are more likely to find it on the day it went missing than 2 weeks from today.
  4. Check the lost-and-found, and keep checking back - it may have been stuffed behind a shelf and not found for a couple days before it made it into the L&F.
  5. Check the playground, especially out of the way places.
  6. Look through ALL the cubbies, not just your kid's. Sometimes a helpful parent picks something up off the floor and stuffs it into the nearest cubby.
  7. Don't bother asking your kids who that jacket belongs to - they don't know. Send out a few emails to the parents of kids who come to your house.

Daughter coming home filthy from preschool

Oct 2008

Our 4-yo daughter started preschool last month, and frankly, we're shocked at how filthy her clothes are by the time we pick her up. Is this normal? Does it get better? Obviously she's a child so she's not paying attention to dirt and cleanliness, plus the school prides itself on its indoor/outdoor space, but whoo! And she's one of the older kids!

No amount of washing seems to get them clean again. i wouldn't care so much if she didn't insist on wearing all her nicest clothes. My husband also noticed that the animals' cages aren't very clean, and as for washing nap-time linens, every family is on their own.

Just wondering if this is par for the course and when we'll be able to look at our child again without jaws dropping at the end of the day! also - any washing tips would be mightily appreciated!! pigpen is my daughter


I'm always a little embarrassed by the homeless look about my child when we fetch him at the end of the day. It is par for the course to wash your own nap linens. I actually prefer this to not knowing that they've been washed. I'd also prefer the faculty watch the kids and not worry about our laundry. As for the filthy kids - as much as I'd prefer a clean face, at least, they all look homeless, and I take it as a sign that they are thoroughly enjoying themselves.

Regarding the laundry - I make a magic potion of spray and wash and then quickly scrub powdered oxy clean over that. If the stain looks challenging - like dried tempra paint - I add enough water to activate the oxyclean and then let the article sit for at least an hour, but sometimes over night. I've successfully removed the fine granite dust of Yosemite, paints, blood, other bodily substances (think breastfed infant), yogurt, toothpaste, caked on mud, grass stains, ... And when I say lightly scrub, I mean just get the oxyclean to stick. Best of luck. sarah


Forgive me here, but I think kids probably should come home dirty from preschool -- it means they are playing hard, learning, and having a good time. It's healthy. My son did every day for the two years he was there -- shoes full of sand, shirt covered with paint, dirt everywhere -- that's how I knew he was having a good experience. You'd probably be most successful if you sorted out some clothes that were ''preschool clothes'' and only let her choose from those, not from her very nicest clothes (hide those until you want her to wear them). Also, invest in a whole lot of oxyclean and spray and wash. Saturate her clothes when they come off, and accept that she's just not going to be pristine. Karen
My daughter also comes home from preschool filthy (and she's only there for 1/2- day!). To me it means that her teachers are helping her to focus on the things that matter for her age. She should be getting her hands into everything. Bummer for me that her hands then wipe on her clothes, but that's not what is important for her development. (Our school uses washable paint, so it's a bit easier to get out -- ask your teachers if they can too.) She should be digging, running, sliding, spinning and falling without thinking about her clothes. Dirt & grass stains are hard to get out, but not impossible (google it).

Your daughter is doing what she needs to be doing. Hide her nice clothes that you really don't want her to get messy at school. The only visible clothes choice for school should be okay with you. Talk to your daughter about school-clothes and week-end clothes (or whatever you want to call it). If you are worried about the cleanliness of the school, then talk to the teachers about how you can help. I'm sure they would love parent volunteers to help periodically with cleaning animal cages. Messy means busy and engaged in preschool


When my kids are dirty I think they've had a good day.........I would try to establish that there is a routine for good handwashing and also establish a bin of clothes that are ok for preschool. Other than that just go with the flow anon
Hands on messy outdoor play is great for kids. I was always thrilled when my kids were filthy after preschool. Send her in play clothes--you don't have to give her a choice about that. You can give her a choice of two playclothes outfits, or she could wear the ones she has already stained. Kids Need Dirt Time
From the perspective of judging the preschool, as long as her face and hands are clean, they are doing what they should. As you know, kids love to get dirty. I just expect that my son has a good wipe down a few times a day so he doesn't have the morning's snack still on his face.

As for you guys... maybe just let her pick out some school clothes that aren't expensive? Maybe give her some options that you pick out? ''Which one of these two outfits do you want to wear?'' Jenny


When I used to pick up my son from preschool, I knew how good his day was by how dirty he was. The more dirt, the more fun. I am a preschool teacher at a developmental preschool. Hands on exploration means mess. And, with so many kids, no teacher can keep them all clean. Last week my kids got covered in paint, soapy water, worms and dirt. They learned and had fun while doing it.

Send your kid to school clothes that are comfortable and that you don't care about. My daughter would only wear ''fancy dresses'' to school so we bought them used, used hand-me-downs, or bought them at costco. She wore the same ''fancy'' dresses to school over and over again and they were all ruined by the end of the school year. And, she loved preschool. - a preschool teacher


I can't speak to the dirty animal cages and general condition of your child's pre-school, but I'd say that there is often a direct relationship between how dirty pre-schooolers are and how much fun they had that day. A big mess equals a lot of fun. Try to send her in some clothes that you don't mind getting dirty or hold out a few outfits for non-pre-school occasions, give her a bath regularly and don't worry about it. It's part of being a kid. anon
Sounds like a great pre-school. Your daughter is actively engaged and playing hard. If you're worried about her ruining her clothes, insist that she wear ''school clothes'' aren't too special. You could take her to a thrift store and let her pick out some inexpensive clothes she likes that you won't worry about ruining. another Mom
my 2 year old boy has days where he comes home covered in dirt and his shoes full of sand. as annoying as it is to clean up after i know that it means he had a great day digging in the dirt and building with sand toys. the best spot cleaner i've found is oxiclean - spray it on when you take the clothes off the kid and use regular detergent. And I stopped buying white shirts for my son - those never come clean. good luck. rockridge mom of 2
I guess every family has their standards of cleanliness, but my advice is to relax and let your child enjoy pre-school. My daughters at age wanted to wear their dresses, but still enjoyed getting messy. It's what pre-schoolers do, as far as I am concerned. I wish I could go to pre-school sometimes. When I would pick them up, I would notice their clothes and say - ''The messier you get, means the more fun you had.'' Kids at that age learn by doing, touching, digging, pouring, squishing, and getting nice and messy. Hang in there. Jeanne
Really, I think it depends on the Preschool. Some spend lots of time outside getting dirty, others are very neat and clean. I would talk with her teacher and learn more about her day. You might need to find a school that meet your needs better. Anon
First, I would make her ''nicest clothes'' unavailable for selection. You can either explain this or just do it. Second, understand that it is normal for kids to get dirty when they play. Third, OxyClean spray is great! Just follow the directions on the bottle. Fourth, at our school, we are also on our own as far as laundering naptime linens. Fifth, you might volunteer to help out with cleaning the pet cages. I am sure the staff would really appreciate it! anon
The short answer: Get used to it! When my son started preschool a year ago, I too, was horrified at the destruction of his clothes. Many stains just do not come out - even some ''washable'' paints! I, and most parents, just give up. Don't let your child wear ''nice'' clothes to school. My son now wears a lot of $2 sweats from Walmart and clothes from resale shops. Part of the fun and joy of being in preschool is making huge messes and not worrying about the consequences. Don't Sweat the Mess
I would take it as a sign she is having a really great childhood! Actively exploring and playing is the best learning she could be experiencing right now. Have separate ''playclothes'' or ''school clothes'' which she can choose from- and a few others just for dress-up or occasions when you are going out somewhere kept in a separate box or otherwise out of sight when she is picking her school clothes. We used to buy entire wardrobes at Thrifttown for under $30, cute clothes in good condition, then I didn't have much anxiety when they became permanently stained or trashed. Also your child may be a tactile/ kinesthetic learner and just be more inclined to immerse herself in every substance around her- my 7 year old is a messy eater and would only use her hands to eat if she could (partly because she is so interested in textures) whereas her 11 year old sister ate neatly even as a baby and toddler. good dirt
I think this is pretty normal. Truthfully, I'm happy when my kids are dirty after a full day of preschool - it tells me that they've been busy and engaged with all the activities of the day (sand, dirt, water, paint, food ...) - and it gives us lots to talk about on the way home! (Tell me about why your hands are purple!!!) If they were too clean I might worry that they just sat in the corner all day ...

It might help you to separate out what your concerns are here. Remember, dirty clothes (from playing, not from peeing or whatever) are not really unhygenic. They won't hurt your daughter in any way, it just looks bad. Dirt doesn't make a kid sick. If it bothers you, you can get in the habit of bringing an extra pair of clothes if you have to go somewhere directly after preschool, and/or trying to get your daughter in the habit of wearing ''play clothes'' to school instead of her nice things.

If you are concerned about hygiene in the school, that's a different matter. I would take it upon myself to wash naptime sheets regularly if your school doesn't do that, and watch that they do clean up accidents that ARE unhygenic. For example, they should change your child's clothes promptly if she pees or throws up, they should try to keep her nose wiped, etc. I can't speak to the issue of animal cages directly, but unless the kids are directly handling the animals and/or their cages, I doubt that a dirty fish tank is a big deal.

You will also want your preschool to be attentive to the degree to which dirty clothes might bother your daughter. Some kids don't like to be in dirty clothes, and they should be helped to change if they are upset.

But if you're the only one who's bothered, and if it's mostly dirt on her clothes and not a substance that can cause illness, again, I would take it as a good sign that your daughter is enjoying her preschool! mom of 2 in preschool


My son was a pigpen at that age (and younger), and still attract dirts, mud, grass stains, and blood stains from skinned knees and elbows--I stopped buying new clothing (except occasionaly from Target)and found surprisingly high quality resale or consignment stuff around town (even Salvation Army, which surprised me, never having tried it before) so I could stop worrying about ruining expensive things, even though much of it was nice, brand name stuff that my son loved. I also became a devotee of OxyClean non-bleach powder for pre-soaking everything my son wore (a scoop or two in a 1/2 full washer of hot for light or warm for dark clothes, and soak for 20-30 minutes before washing; DON'T MACHINE DRY anything still stained when it comes from the washer, as that sets stains and make them harder to remove. Air dry the garment and let your child wear it stained before treating and pre-soaking again, or just treat it directly on the stain with laundry soap, rub in well, and wash again. I still use OxyClean in every load now that the main thing he makes filthy are his white baseball pants (3 times a week, because even at home, he practices in the white pants which need to look good by Sunday game time), and it works true wonders. The other thing I became fond of was a box of unscented handwipes, so even if his clothing was filthy, it was easy to wipe his face and hands if we had to be in public for awhile (or eat a snack in the car on the way home).

Mainly, I separated my son's love of dirt and grass from myself as his mother, and stopped worrying that others would think I wasn't caring for his clothing. When anyone was rude enough to point out to me how filthy he was before I could get him changed, I learned to smile proudly and say, ''Yes, he throws his whole heart, soul and body into everything he does,'' and in time, I came to truly value this part of his personality.

FYI, the redeeming factor for my son was/is how much he LOVES his shower--he likes getting clean almost as much as he likes getting dirty, so now that he's in fourth grade, I find it balances out quite beautifully. He also by his own choice has long hair which he is required to keep clean, and I never have to remind him. So playing hard and getting dirty is not necessarily a reflection of future habits of cleanliness, if you're worried about that (I used to be).

Enjoy her passion for play if you can. Mom of Pigpen Too


Yes, our 3 kids came home every day so dirty I sometimes had them undress on the front porch (they all had baskets for their shoes on the front porch and weren't allowed to wear their shoes in the house). I just chalked it up to being kids and having a lot of fun playing. I kept a couple of nice outfits separate in their closet for when they needed to actually look nice, and during the week they just dressed in crappy clothes so I didn't care if they got dirty or not.

Now my kids are in elementary school and their clothes still get trashed, so I still keep that stash of nice clothes separate.

I suggest you sit down and talk to your daughter about her clothes and explain that since she gets so dirty, and because you have a hard time getting clothes clean again she should dress in really comfortable clothes for preschool and can save her nice clothes for the weekend. Mom of dirty kids


This is perfectly normal and kudos to the school for encouraging the kids to be curious, even if messy. Exploration and experimentatin is an important part of child development. As long as the school is appropriately safe, lighten up and send your daughter to school in appropriate clothes. -- mud and paint are fun
My daughter is a "graduate" of Aquatic Park School (APS) in Berkeley. One of the things that I was surprised about during the first few months of preschool was not just how dirty her clothes, jackets, shoes and socks were but how stained they got.

AND . . . now that she is 9 years old, I understand how important it was to get THAT dirty. My daughter is in 3rd grade and knows how to burn up her energy playing at recess so she can concentrate in the classroom. She knows how to paint, plant flowers and examine things closely by getting on her knees on the ground. She understands that she is a kinesthetic learning and needs to be actively involved in activities to learn her best. Because she is not afraid to get dirty, she is not afraid to play against the boys in sports, is not afraid of tearing or ripping her clothes to climb trees, build forts or go camping.

I will tell you that we had exclusively two sets of clothes and if we went to a place directly after preschool where we felt she had to look presentable, we brought extra clothes. I also think you should not feel bad about sending your daughter to preschool in stained clothes. The kids don't care, good teachers don't care and your daughter should feel free to learn and explore - - - after all she will have decades of restriction about what to wear and when to wear it - - - she'll have under = decade to be free to explore and be herself regardless of what she wears.

And, I have to say, all of the dirt from APS actually made my daughter healthier and more resistant to colds, flu, etc. This is not just my opinion, but that of our pediatrician. Give me another 3 years of APS and Dirt


A dirty child at the end of a preschool day is a happy child in my book. I wouldn't worry about it. And, if your child ''insists'' on wearing her nice stuff, you need to be the parent and say no if this concerns you. My kids wear clothes they can dirty to school. But, my best cleaning strategy unapolegetically tide with bleach and extra strength shout. Phosphates are needed if you want to clean kid stains. Or, we just live with the stains. Mom to happy, dirty kids
My daughter just started preschool this past September at a play based preschool. Just about every day when I go pick her up, she's rolling around in the sand box. On the days when I work at the school, I see various kids running around in their underwear. It's normal for the kids to want to play with everything the school has to offer. I would just give up trying to have the magazine perfect kids. Let them be. Once they get home, give them a bath and dress them in the nicer clothes when they are with you.

I've just sprayed everything with Shout then wash them in cold as soon as I get the chance to. If it's got paint on it, I let it soak in cold water before washing. And it's okay if some of the stains don't come out. crystal@cal.berkeley.edu


My kids are the same and my advice is that you can just think that the sptelling of ''joy'' for a child...is ''d-i-r-t''. My advice may seem strange, but here is what I've done that has been the biggest help in this area. We buy EVERYTHING for our two girls at Thriftown! Our family is called ''best dressed'' at our preschool and now elementary school, yet 99% of what my girls wear cost me under $2.00 each. Until I did this, I found myself so shocked and upset ...shoes worn out from just ONE day on the playground, shirts with stains and torn spots, skirts with hems ripped out. Now, at about $7.00 worth of clothes from head to toe on any day, my girls can play all they want and I can accept their dirt fully as a sign of a great day at school.

Regarding the animal care areas, that's a different story in my opinion. You may want to check into a PetSmart store and ask them about sanitation for children around whatever kind of pet they have in class. Chances are that a dirty cage of any sort is also poor conditions for the dear little animal, so you would be helping everyone. I found PetSmart employees helpful. Good luck and find a Thriftown near you! We go to the one in San Leandro, at something like 134th and E. 14th. All the clothes I buy there for my girls are excellent brands...just be sure you shop there without your kid, it takes longer to sort through to find the best quality.

One last thing, as a result of shopping this way for clothes for our whole family, we are doing a fantastic thing in terms of recycling, giving back, and not following the commercial efforts to get today's children to follow fads. As a result, my girls prefer their used clothing, have never asked me once to take them shopping (they are 7 and 8) and in general, we all see clothes as for fun and function, not to be ''cool'' in or concerned about preserving. leslie


Yes this is normal. Be thrilled she's filthy, she's getting to play. Have her pick out her school clothes and ONLY let her wear those. Use Oxi-clean for the others and throw anything with paint into a tub with hot water and oxi-clean. Every family is generally on their own for nap linens. The cages are probably fine, but if they bother you, ask if you can volunteer to clean them. Taking care of a preschool is an enormous job, there is tons of cleaning to do all the time, and so little time to do it and the planning and the purchasing and the meetings and the, well you get the picture. All for usually less than $20,000 per year. The best schools are the messiest ones, where there is evidence that the children are interacting with materials and nature and each other. Sounds like a great place. I think you are lucky. a grad student in early childhood education
My almost 3-year-old comes home filthy, too, head to toe! I've taken to washing him up at the school when I pick him up just so we don't have to battle over it when we get home. I'm not concerned about the kind of environment he is in--he's just being a kid on a playground.

As for the clothes, the school recommended ''dirt-friendly'' clothes from the start, so we were prepared. Now that a small set is ruined, he just cycles through them on preschool days so nothing else gets ruined, too. (I imagine this is easier with a boy, and a younger child, too, but that's the best we've been able to do!) mom of a grub bug


The animals' cages not being well-kept is a bit worrisome, but everything else you describe is normal. Yes, most preschools expect parents to bring the nap linens home for laundering, most kids frequently come home from preschool absolutely filthy, and you are not supposed to send them in their ''nice'' clothes! Nor would I bother trying to wash out all the stains; she can just contine to wear the laundered-but-stained clothes to preschool. :)

If there are particular items you really want to try to save for nicer-clothing occasions, I recommend soaking in OxiClean for general grime, and using a Spray-n-Wash stain stick treatment on particular spots (marker, paint, mud spatters, etc.) If you have greasy stains from food spills, treat them with dish soap before laundering.

I find that, on any given day, in general, the dirtier my kids' clothes and fingernails are, the more fun they had and often, the more they learned. :) Preschool Veteran


Dear Pigpen My Daughter, As a child I too came home from school filthy and insisted on wearing my dress clothes for play. As a participating parent at pre school I attempted to keep my first daughter clean and dressed in her nicest outfits. Eventually, Kathy, Program Director, offered me an alternative way to look at this. My darling daughter wanted to play and get dirty. I was encouraged to play and get dirty with her. We learned to stomp in puddles, play in the rain, and get dirty. Osh Gosh coveralls for her and sweats for me. Didn't matter if they never got perfectly clean. To this day I love to play in the rain. Pigpen Daddy and Daughter, jim
Is it normal? Indeed! I would even go a step further by saying it's healthy! Your daughter is currently negotiating the social life of a pre schooler; dealing with younger kids, finding appropriate ways to express her ever-complex emotions, experimenting with art materials, discovering the many forms of sand, playing with water, making friends, role playing and building! The last thing she (and you) should be concerned about are her clothes. A child who is thinking about her clothing is not engaged with her peers or her environment. I will say that I would place some clothes ''off limits'' for school b/c they are too nice or too special - just tell her ''I don't want you to wear this to school b/c the last thing you should be worried about is ruining your clothes - let's wear clothes that we both won't mind if at the end of the day they are destroyed.'' This dirtiness won't let up until 1st grade. Go out and get some disposable clothing from old navy and relish when your daughter comes home like Pigpen - that means she has had a successful day learning how the world and people work. -Type A mom who also had to let go!
I think that's normal and to be expected. My almost three-year-old son also comes home with clothes dirty with dirt, paint, food, etc. I figure that means he's having fun! He doesn't stay for naptime, but for those that do, the parents wash the nap linens. I find that the dirt comes out pretty well with washing. I have a front-loader (Kenmore) and use regular detergent (Arm and Hammer seems to work well) and an Oxyclean-type additive (Safeway's generic version of Oxyclean). I always set the wash loads for extra time (wash time 1 hour). Anything with tomato stains goes out in the sun to dry (sunlight obliterates tomato for some reason). Most important, though, is to be less vested in the clothes you send your kid to preschool in. Hand-me-downs, thrift store clothes, and gifts are great for that. And that's pretty much all my son has, so, really, I'm fine with him wearing anything to preschool. The clothes aren't going to fit him forever anyway, and I'd rather he enjoy the clothes, and I enjoy the clothes on him, than worry about making them last forever. Let the clothes go
It's a good sign that your child shows that she has played ''hard'' when she comes home from preschool. Our daughter went to a fantastic preschool, but not once did she come home with as much as a pencil stripe on her. That really bothered me, because it meant that she wasn't getting the free, uncaring play that children need and want. We still loved the school, but we ended up not sending our son there for that exact reason. Our new preschool warns us of the messy play that the kids do and recommend that we don't have them wear nice clothes for that exact reason.

I still like to send him in nice clothes and the ones that don't come clean with the regular wash I soak for about 48 hrs in Oxi Clean. I start a small, hot wash in the washer and throw in 4 scoops of Oxi Clean. Once everything is nicely mixed, I turn off the washing machine and let it sit for 2 days. 95% of the stains are gone after about 48 hrs. Works like a charm! jj


I was amazed at how dirty my kid could get at preschool too, but my thought was always that the dirtier the kid at the end of the day, the more fun he had! Preschools, at least play-based ones, are all about letting the kids explore their worlds, which means mixing water and sand into mud, rubbing their hands in paint, and generally making a mess. They are learning about the world around them by touching, smelling, feeling. The end result is that they get dirty.

When my son's clothes are especially funky, I soak them in OxoBrite, which is a non-chlorine bleach that works amazingly well. I would also recommend that your child have school clothes and then special clothes. Maybe you can set aside some of her ''good clothes'' for times that are not as messy.

You also mentioned that the preschool might not be that clean. This is a totally different issue than your child being dirty at the end of the day. While she might be covered in mud by pick-up time, you want to make sure that she is washing her hands before meals while in school and that the school cleans and sanitizes common areas like bathrooms, sinks, eating areas.

Finally, for your own sanity, I recommend embracing the dirtiness of childhood and being thankful that the truly messy activities are taking place at preschool and not in your living room. :-) Mother of Dirty Kid


If she is spending most of her time outside playing in the dirt, then she is gong to get dirty. Are her hands and face clean when she comes home? That is what I would be worried about (but, I view 'getting really dirty' as a badge of honor earned by my kids). My 3 1/2 year old is always a disaster when she comes home from preschool, but that is just her style. She can get pain all over herself even when wearing a smock My elder who attended the same preschool the year prior always came home reasonably neat, but she just isn't as messy. Regardless, if you can't stand the dirt, then find a new place.

Re: cleaning...I don't know what kind of washer you have, but I have an LG frontloader...one of its settings allows for 'heavily soiled' items. I set it to that, add oxyclean and detergent and let it run its course. I actually got two-year-old mud stains out of the knees of a pair of pants, just last week. -anon


My daughter also comes home filthy from preschool. Sometimes even with paint on her clothes. I just figure she is having fun AND I know not to dress her in her nicest clothes. It is a part of having fun at school. I have found that Oxiclean works best on the stains....soak for up to 6 hours.... No worries

My daughter doesn't get much attention at preschool

Oct 2008

Last year we considered a number of preschools and got into our #1 choice. It is one of the more expensive ones but we thought it would be worth it because we were so excited about it, and thought our daughter would thrive there. Unfortunately, after about a month, we are really disappointed with the school and the teachers. Our daughter, who has lots of friends outside of preschool, doesn't have any friends in school, and the teachers don't seem to make an effort to facilitate friendships. She doesn't like to go to school because she says she is lonely there, and she is always playing by herself when we pick her up (and she is a very social kid so this is really not normal for her). Of the four teachers in the classroom with 20 students, only one of them says hello to her when she arrives or seems to pay any notice to her, and she isn't always there. The other teachers are arriving at the same time as the children so they are too busy setting themselves up to help the children settle in. One of the teachers seems to outright dislike my daughter, since she never interacts with her at all throughout the day. Basically my daughter just doesn't get much attention from either the teachers or the other students, and with the amount we are paying for her to go there this seems rather outrageous to me.

My questions are: (1) is this normal for a preschool or below- par for what we should expect? (2) If it's not up to reasonable standards, should we (a) pull her out and try to move her to another school (which would have its own problems because she would have to adjust all over again), or (b) complain to the head of the school (but then I'm afraid we'd be seen as whiners and our daughter might be treated worse rather than better)? BTW, my daughter is 3 years old and has been in a pre-school type setting before, but it was just 4 kids with one teacher, and she thrived there. -feeling so sad for my daughter


I'm sorry for your predicament. I don't think what you described sounds like a normal preschool situation. My three year old son just started preschool in September, and the atmosphere seems totally different. The teachers are welcoming, the teachers acknowledge all of the kids, and the kids seem to generally all get the same amount of attention (though it varies everyday). I would absolutely speak with the director. I don't think its ''whiny'' to ask questions about your daughter's experience in school. If it doesn't get better after you talk to the director, I would definitely consider a switch to a different place. Sure, the transition will be hard on your daughter, but it's much better than having her in place where she is not comfortable. I hope things get better for her (and for you). anon
Your questions were: (1) is this normal for a preschool or below-par for what we should expect?

No, definately not normal. Our preschool really worked on everyone making friends and every single one of the teachers greeted my child very happily every single day.

(2) If it's not up to reasonable standards, should we (a) pull her out and try to move her to another school, or (b) complain to the head of the school?

Pull her out. The school and/or teachers are not going to change, even if you complain. Your daughter will be ''happy'' to readjust if she can start acting like her normal self again (outgoing). anon


You are in a tough spot. It is hard to complain when your kid is there. I would recommend talking to the head of the school about what adjustment is like for 3 year olds if nothing else but to start to gather more information about the competence of the leadership there. I would also look around and other options and check-in with other parents. It can take a while for kids to adapt, but if it is not a match, it is better to figure that out early and have back up options. It can be hard to get into places so it is good to look early. Anon
1) This does not seem normal, no matter how much money you are paying. My son goes to a preschool with up to 24 kids and only 2 teachers in the room, and both teachers always pay attention to every child. When we walk in the room in the morning, the teachers always say ''Good Morning'' and interact with him. To have one teacher consistently ignore your child is unacceptable. It's not clear why your daughter isn't making friends, but it could be that she's uncomfortable with her teachers and the whole situation, not the other kids in particular.

2) I would do both: pull your child out AND talk to the head of the school. Tell the director exactly what is happening, which teacher or teachers are ignoring your child, and that even if the situation is fixed (teacher reprimanded or removed), you are leaving anyway as your daughter is not thriving there and it is not a good fit for her. Find another school where the teachers are more caring and attentive. It doesn't have to be the most expensive school. In the end, it's the teachers that make the biggest difference. Concerned parent


I have my doctorate in child development and focus on matching children to high quality childcare and preschool settings, based on the child's unique needs coupled with professional evaluations of the care settings. We know from research that the ''quality'' of a setting is hugely important in terms of a child's later development. ''Quality'' can be difficult to assess because it is nuanced. That being said, a care setting needs to not only be high quality, but match your daughter's unique needs. Having not conducted an evaluation of this site, I can't say whether or not it is high quality, but based on your responses, it sounds as though it is not meeting your child's needs. I would be happy to talk with you more about this if you are interested. Feel free to email me directly at doctorgarvin@sfbaycare.com. Melissa Garvin doctorgarvin@sfbaycare.com
Hi- I had a similar situation - we were accepted at what we thought was an excellent preschool, after much stress of applying to several schools. But when school started we were disappointed in mnay ways and my son did not thrive at all.

We attempted to improve things by talking to the director and head of school. And we stuck it out for several months until we finally moved him.

In hindsight, we should have moved him sooner. He developed a negative view of himself and it took almost a year to improve his self-esteem. We were devastated that he referred to himself as ''trouble'' when he was 3 years old. The teacher that did not like him took over the class and it was horrible after that. We were so upset that his first school experience was so negative.

I think you should bring your concerns to the director. Try to get the situation improved. You are totally justified to discuss your concerns with the director. If there is no improvement with 2 weeks, I would start looking for a new school. It was a mistake to let my son stay in a preschool where he was not adjusted, thriving, and happy for several months. I know its hard to find a new situation, but there are good schools with room. At this early age, feeling positive is very important. Wiser now


Hi, had to add my 2 cents.... We were in a similar predicament and at the time we were on 5+ waiting lists to get into any school. I have to say that it's difficult to get a real feel for a school especially with so much pressure to just get accepted into a ''good'' school.

We were disappointed in our very expensive beautiful school. Like other parents attending we honestly believed because we paid top dollar we were doing the very best for our child. We overlooked important red flags and we had no where to go, everyone was full. Our child's class was large, over 21 kids. I would visit on my lunch to find kids crying/screaming and on occasion unsupervised in the play yard. Our child came home with scratch marks on his face and bite marks. We should have pulled him out right away. We continued to work with the two teachers who repeatedly told us there were no problems, all was well; all was developmentally normal at this age. ''Kids will be kids, they all bite, hit, scratch...'' I think you should listen to your gut instinct because we never did. Our child did not want to go to school and we ignored his screams because he's a spirited child. He developed low self esteem and we can't even mention the word SCHOOL.

I want you to know that it was a BIG MISTAKE to keep him in a school that did not care for him ie. make him feel happy and well adjusted. Every child, hey even adults like to feel appreciated and loved; part of a team/a positive daily experience. Talking to the teachers was useless in our case and the director was part of the class team. Everyone knew everything about all the kids/their quirks, personalities, etc. Everyone talked.

Six months later our child is well adjusted, working on his confidence, happy and loves school. We found teachers that simply care about kids and let none slip through the cracks. Just the other day I found one of the teachers hugging the children than squeezing our child in a warm loving hug and my heart broke for a moment. Engage with kids like this? Wow! Still kicking myself... First Time Parent/Newbie


Gregarious teacher is frightening my son

May 2007

My son is 3 years 2 months and has been attending preschool 4 days a week for the past 9 months.

Earlier this week I was dropping him off at school. We walked into the classroom and there were 2 aids and a few kids in the room. One was a regular aid in my son's class and the other was an aid from a different room who was just covering until the head teacher got in.

This aid is excessively gregarious, overly-animated, always offering up high fives to the kids when they come into school. My son (who is otherwise very outgoing himself) seems to avoid this aid whenever possible. When the aid tries to give him a high five my son pulls away and hides behind me.

When we walked into the classrom this aide came over, said hi and patted my son on the head. My son proceeded to yell no! and run into the bathroom. I followed him in there and asked him what was wrong and he said ''I don't want him to touch me! I don't want him to touch me!''. I asked him why and he said ''because i don't want him to touch me''

He was very clingy / crying when I left him that morning which is fairly atypical. As I drove to work thinking about my son's words and reaction to a completely benign interaction with the aid I started to panic and wonder if something inappropriate had transpired, making my son afraid of this man.

I ended up coming back to his school to pick him up because I was so uncomfortable. I spoke to the director about my concerns (not accusations, just concerns). I also brought my son into his pediatrician's office to get a referral to an appropriate child psychologist to talk to him to try to ascertain whether or not something inappropriate had happened.

My son hasn't exhibited any behavioral changes and seems happy to go to school each morning.

Am I over-reacting? Could this be just a dramatic 3 year old who has personal space issues and is overwhelmed by this guy's enthusiasm and energy? Or could it be something much worse? I'm not sure what to do. I don't want to make accusations, but my first responsibility is to protect my child. I don't even know if I should ever bring him back to school! concerned mama


I think you are being appropriately cautious, given what you described about the situation. I think it's okay to go ahead with the appointment for a psychologist to see your son, but since you are worried about taking him to school, maybe you can have a more immediate, (pretend) casual dialogue with your son about appropriate touching, etc., to see if he tells you something.

You didn't mention what the director of the school said, but I hope he/she took you seriously and talked to this teacher about your son's concern. I think it's okay to have it clear that your son does not like physical contact with this person.

I suggest also that you talk to a few other parents (again, in a casual way) to get their take. I know most schools don't like parents to 'gossip' among themselves, but if there's a serious issue, IMO it's good to communicate with others. Perhaps you and a few other parents can take turns volunteering in the class, etc.

Hopefully, it's nothing serious, and your son just doesn't like what you described as the 'excessively gregarious, overly- animated' behavior of this teacher.

On the contrary, it could be like what happened at my child's elementary school a few years back, a cautionary tale, sadly, where a few isolated parents complained discreetly to the school administrators about a student teacher whose behavior they found inappropriate at times. No serious action was taken by these administrators, and a few years later, when this--by now reportedly outstanding--teacher (teaching elsewhere) was arrested in an internet-assisted sting operation and accused of multiple molestations (he was later convicted), it came to light that one of my child's classmates was molested as well.

And I knew nothing of these parents' concern about the teacher at the time of their complaints to the school, and even allowed this student teacher to spend (a brief) time alone with my child. I know this kind of thing is not common, so it's good not to panic and go on a witch hunt, but it's also good to be cautious, follow through with your concerns, and communicate with others. anon


Based on what you wrote, it sounds to me like the aid is clueless about how to behave around small children and should not be in a preschool. You did the right thing, speaking to the director, and hopefully enough complaints will accumulate from other parents that he will eventually choose another line of work. It's understandable that your 3-year-old reacted the way he did - it is very consistent with an upset 3-year-old. I think the fact that he used the word "touch" is what set off alarms for you. The word is very loaded for us adults. But 3-year-olds don't have the vocabulary and insight to say something like "He is too "in my face" and I want him to back off RIGHT NOW." Your son used the words he has to convey an upsetting situation. Honestly it seems very unlikely to me that there was anything more going on than the aid's unsuitable personality. If he really were malicious, it would be nigh impossible for anything to happen in a preschool where there are other teachers present and parents are coming in and out. I don't think I would worry about this. But I would probably look for another preschool if the director couldn't resolve this to my satisfaction. Mom of three
I think our kids go to the same school! And I mean REALLY. If not, it sounds so very similar to a reaction my older son had to a regular substitute at his former pre-school (that my younger son still attends). My older son is a slow to warm up kid who needs lots of time even with people he adores. He always kind of liked this teacher but I could see that the teacher overstepped his personal limits in a boisterous oblivious way. We always arrived to overzealous high-fives or handshakes, even when it was obviously too forward, too much for my son. Then at pick-up, I'd get overwhelmed by the report on my son's day, even as I was trying to great my son, give him a hug hello. He'd tell my all about the many things he tried to force my son to get involved in (it was always the things he hated: tossing a baseball,rough housing, listening to the guy play guitar or drums- my kid is noise sensitive).

It's funny though because my younger son really enjoys all the aforementioned with this same teacher. Really I don't think there's anything inappropriate going on except this guy doesn't have the finesse or sophistication to observe children and then deceide an appropriate course. I think it's a matter of not having sensitive listening skills and obviously your son is fed up and really wants this guy to hear him that his limits are drawn in the sand. It takes fortitude for a preschooler to be so clear about his limits with an adult. This guy seems to be a one-trick pony. Maybe he should stick with bigger kids.

Do I think something bigger is occurring? After a decade working with this age group, mom of some of my own, I don't think so. My experience is that when abuse in one form or another is going on, the ways it comes out is far more subtle, physical or emotional signs that aren't about a child expressing themselves so succinctly with their words. Your child didn't like the man's hand on his head and neither would I. I appreciate your worries, your efforts to straighten it all out with the director but make sure you stop and appreciate the amazing part. Your son really seems to know himself and isn't afraid for the world to know. I'm not so sure my kids have that. And know that you are a great mama and trust your instincts. If you look inside yourself and see it's fear and not anxiety, it's always the right thing to get your child out. The hard part is figuring which it is. I wish you well. Annoyed By Sub


I had a lot of empathy for you and your child. Please follow your instincts and your child ques. Even if this is not a case of molestation, your child obviously does not feel comfortable near that man and he should feel fully legitimized. I was very concerned when I read the description of your child response and I think you responded the best way you could - not over- reacting at all. I would try to create situations where you can talk privately and seriously with your child and share your experience - maybe tell him a story of how uncomfortable you felt when someone told you something or did something that you didn't like. If he doesn't feel isolated in his experience he might open up. In any case I would ask to know in advance any time this aid is a sub in your child's class. Hoping for the best, anon
I think you are absolutely correct to be paying such close attention to your son's signals. We all get to know our kids really well, better than anyone in fact, and it's our foremost responsibility to serve as their advocates. This is too serious a matter to overlook or minimize. Like you, it seems, I'm a calm, measured parent. Were it my son, demonstrating such unusual behaviors, I'd be very concerned about returning him to this environment. I applaud you for taking all the right steps, and would urge you to continue any and all efforts to make certain he is in a safe setting.

My brother-in-law is a world-class attorney prosecuting sexual crimes against children, and keeps reminding me that offenders are often those that seem the most trust-worthy, the friendliest, and have the most intimate level of access to small children.

As Gavin de Becker repeats often in his bood about keeping kids safe, ''Protecting the Gift'' (well worth reading): TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS. I'd be shopping for another pre-school


I just want to echo the posters who said you're doing a great job of handling this. You're sending your son the message that it's OK to draw boundaries and that you take his feelings seriously. I very much hope that this teacher just has a tin ear, but regardless of how this situation is resolved, the fact that you're really listening to him is invaluable. Abuse survivor
You might be right, but let me share this anecdote as an alternative explanation. As a child, I could not stand people overstepping personal space boundaries and more generally, not being sensitive to the level of intimacy, or lack thereof, in the relationship. It had nothing to do with sexual abuse. I just hated, hated, hated the kind of invasive, in-your-face, one-size-fits-all interaction that it sounds like this teacher practices. And although I worked through a lot of this when I was a teenager/young adult, that type of behavior still makes me very uncomfortable.

I attended a coop preschool, and according to my mom, the director used me as an example of how some children have invisible spacial barriers and need to be approached in an especially sensitive manner. I definitely complained about people ''touching me'' but I wasn't talking about anything remotely abusive. If I had had a teacher like your son's at my preschool, I would have been totally traumatized, without anything sexual going on. Does your son usually need a bit of space and time to get comfortable? anon


Injury on the playground at school

May 2007

I know that there was laready a big discussion about school playground injuries and who is responsible, but I have some more variables. What if a child fell from a playstructure and was slightly injured, enough to necessitate a trip to the ER? What if the teachers on duty admit that nobody was watching the play structure? What if school officials had been saying for months that the surface underneath the structure was not adequate (and this is corroborated by a playground inspector)? Luckily, my child was not seriously injured, but it cost us an ER visit and a few chiropractic visits to determine this. I'm not looking to make trouble for the school, but I also can't afford to pay all of these out-of-pocket expenses. Should I try to negotiate with the school to cover the medical costs? Really Poor


I'd let it go. You said your kid was only slightly injured. And no one was watching the play equipment. Are you certain your child didn't jump - maybe that's why he didn't get all that hurt. I know that my kid has had his worse injuries in the seconds that I have taken my eyes off him. I would imagine that it's impossible to see everything on a playground at all times. These things happen

Daughter's long ponytail cut off by another child

April 2004

Greetings,

My child has never had a haircut in her entire life, and yesterday her gorgeous, yellow-gold, below-the-waist ponytail was sliced off at her neck by another 3 or 4 yr old while at daycare. The child that cut my child's hair off also had enough time to give herself a haircut before the classroom supervisor discovered (in plain sight!) the girls. The scissors were available in an open bin as is classroom habit.

A month and a half ago another child snipped a chunk of hair off my daughter's head directly above her eyes while she was playing on the playground. No teacher saw or reported it, I was the one who discovered it and talked to supervisors, teachers, classroom attendents and parents and students trying to determine what happened. I was assured this would not happen again.

My daughter misses her hair very much, and I, I am embarrassed to report, am devestated by the lose of her long hair.

I understand I should focus on my gratitude that my child did not lose an eye or a limb! There are bigger, more important things to care about than vain hair length.

I'm not an expert, but I do notice that simply telling a 3 or four year old child to NOT to do something is not the best thing to do: one must REMOVE the dangerous item.

Any words of wisdom? What would you do? diana


I find myself disturbed by your posting about your child's hair being cut at daycare by another child for two reasons: why are there scissors available to children that are so sharp they can cut hair (most children's scissors are so dull they barely cut paper) and why has this been able to occur not once but twice? I am worried about the level of supervision of children at your preschool.

I agree that you can't really enforce consequences for a 3 or 4 year old cutting someone's hair...they can however have very clear rules about when and how to use scissors. I don't like that scissors are readily available either. It seems to me the school should be aware that the scissor situation as it is now is not working. As you pointed out your child could have been seriously injured by those scissors (I cringe imagining a child poking your child in the eye by accident).

Personally, I would consider switching preschools. If you feel comfortable at the school then I would ask that scissors only be brought out for art projects or be kept in an area under constant supervision by an adult. I would also ask that they be replaced with duller scissors that don't have sharp blades.

I would take this as an opportunity to evaluate the school. Are you comfortable with the level of supervision of children? Did you feel they responded well to this problem and have instituted ways to ensure it doesn't reoccur?

I don't blame you for being upset about your daughter's beautiful hair. Hope it grows back soon! sympathetic mom


I would pull my child out of that preschool immediately! It might be a limb or eye next time, because obviously their supervision is extremely poor. The fact that your daughter's hair was cut TWICE shows that the neglect was not an isolated incident.

Don't feel bad about being devastated! Hair is an important part of self-identity, and what happened to your child is terrible. My daughter also has very long hair that took her years to grow, and if someone cut it off I would be furious. I am not a litigious person, but if I were I would definitely sue! Samson's mother :-)


I would simply let the director know that you expect the scissors to be put away where the children do not have free access to them without immediate adult supervision. This wasn't an isolated incident, so you have every right to be concerned, for whatever reason (safety or vanity).

As a former director of a program with older children, I would have been more than willing to respond in such a way, even if it was just to be certain that you knew I was taking your concern seriously. Paula C.


You said it in your post, you are glad she did not lose an eye or a limb. I am not an educator, but the unsupervised availabilty of scissors with this age group is clearly dangerous and unacceptable as far as I am concerned. The fact that it happened twice is frightening also. I can only advise what I would do; take your child out of there. elizabeth lee
Just saw your posting re: the hair. For your daughter's sake, I would immediately take hold of myself and get my feelings out of it. (I know how you feel, but it's soooooo much better to teach them not to be stymied by physical/looks stuff!!!) Then I would take her to a real salon and get her a real, big- girl neato/cool-o haircut as just a mom-daughter thing. Then I'd take her to lunch somewhere special, where I would explain that sometimes, when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. Then I would explain to her that in her life she will look a lot of different ways (and so will other children.) It's important to learn how to feel good in yourself while you look different ways!

Then I would probably take her out of the school. The thing with unsupervised hair cutting really makes me scared. Unsupervised scissors are a scary thing! another mom


I don't blame you for being upset about either the loss of your daughter's hair OR the danger factor. I'd be furious. I don't think a daycare should keep scissors that sharp within reach of a child that age. You are absolutely right - she could have poked an eye out. The scissors at my child's preschool can barely cut paper, let alone saw off a big hunk of hair. I can't imagine the teachers at my child's school not noticing this in progress, either. I think the school is negligent and you should tell them so and find another place to put your daughter. I'd ask for a refund on my last month's tuition, too, to compensate you for the time and energy you are having to spend dealing with this. And they are lucky it's not more. anon
I'd be VERY pissed off--about the loss of the hair that I valued (and took care of) for so long, about the safety issue, and about the other kid feeling it was OKAY to use the scissors on my daughter's hair. I would let the kid's parent(s) AND the kid herself/himself know that I am very unhappy with what happened. harumph
1) Try to make the best out the situation by getting her hair cut or ''fixed'' professionally by a childrens barber or stylist; 2) Consider switching to a more responsible daycare provider; and 3) Consider filing a formal complaint with the appropriate regulatory authorities and/or licensing agency. Anon.
The daycare has scissors ''in an open bin'' available for children to use unsupervised?? Nobody notices they are cutting each others hair?? This is the second time this happens??

Wow. Sounds to me like your daycare has some real problems. I also have a three year old with long, beautiful, never-been- cut hair and if her hair got cut at preschool, I would be beside myself with anger.

I would have serious words with the teachers and management about the situation. The scissors would have to go and supervision dramatically increased or I would take my child somewhere else. I would also talk to the offending child's parents about what happened, so that this child can be made to understand that cutting hair is completely not acceptable behavior.

And don't apologize for your vanity about your child's hair. I think it is very reasonable to be upset for all the reasons above and just because you (and she) loved her hair. -Loves long hair, too


I'd consider reporting the daycare provider to whomever regulates them. Having scissors easily accessible to a three-year-old child seems to me to be a major violation of some rule. I can completely understand why you were devastated by the loss of her hair. You shouldn't feel the need to apologize for your feelings. (It took me weeks to get up the courage to have my daughter's bangs trimmed the first time, but it was causing her to rub her eyes and we had to do it even though I wanted to let her hair all grow as you did.) I'd be more interested in what the daycare provider is saying now, since you were assured this would not happen again. It seems like an apology is hardly sufficient but certainly warranted, and an explanation of how they will prevent this from ever happening again. incredulous
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