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Learning the Preschool Ropes

Friday 09.25
When I arrived at the school, I walked in on an unpleasant and unnecessary scene: an assistant that I did not know nor had ever met was screaming Schäfer’s Chinese name and slamming her hands on the table to get his attention.

Yes, he was trying to grab the hand of the little boy next to him. Yes, I agree he needed correction, but we don’t scream and slam our hands on the table. How frightening – especially for the 5 children who were sitting at the table where she was slamming her hands!

I was not pleased to say the least, but I knew that I needed to get Schäfer home and come back with Hubs in order to show a united front. This was our first negative incident with the preschool.

We left Schäfer with Ayi and walked back to the school. When we walked up, Schäfer’s two official teachers came to the door asking what was wrong. First, we asked what happened at school that day. The teachers explained that while playing at the playground Schäfer hit a child. The teachers talked to him and he understood that he shouldn’t hit. Once they were back in the classroom, he pulled the seat out of from his table mate which made the little boy fall. He was also grabbing the little boys hand.

After we heard about these incidents, we agreed that Schäfer was being very naughty and remined them that they can call me at any time to come and immediately pick him up. He will be disciplined at home.

Then, we explained the scene I saw when I walked up. They called the new assistant over to our conference and I explained that we don’t yell or slam our hands at Schäfer. I demonstrated how we get down on his level and look into his eyes when talking to him. The new assistant apologized. The main classroom teachers apologized.

The teachers went on to explain that they were dealing with a classroom full of only children. These kids have never shared toys or tables much less sharing attention from their teachers. Lots of the kids were naughty – not just Schäfer.

Hubs reiterated that if Schäfer is naughty then they can call us. They do not need to worry about it being troublesome. We ended the conversation by encouraging them that we liked the school and Schäfer loves coming here.

Then, we went home to take care of this behavior.

Monday 09.28
When I went to pick up Schäfer, Teacher Liu had a terrified look on her face. I said, “Oh no! Did he hit again?” Thankfully, no.

Apparently, there was a little girl who was crying for her Mommy on the playground. Schäfer went over to hug the little  girl, but the little girl didn’t want to be hugged. When Schäfer tried again to hug her, she full-on bit him through his t-shirt. There are teeth marks in a full circle from every single tooth in her mouth.

My response was, “After he was bit, did he hit her?”  Thankfully, no.

The teacher was still very nervous. I told the teacher that these things happen and we cannot control other children, but I can advise Schäfer in his behavior.

On the way home, Schäfer explained his side of the story: He was hugging a little girl because she was crying. She bit him. He didn’t cry. The teachers all carried him around for the rest of the day. He didn’t hit anyone. So many different teachers carried him around. “Mommy, see that teacher over there… she carried me too!”

Frankly, Schäfer had a great day at preschool.

2009-09-28@11-09-37
The little girl bit through his t-shirt. Ouch!

Tuesday 09.29
With the last two days of school involving hitting and biting, I was hoping for a smooth pick-up this morning. Unfortunately, when I arrived at the school Teacher Liu had that frightened look on her face.

Before I could say anything, she began, “It happened this way…” and she went on to explain a very simple story of Schäfer playing on the playground, falling down, and getting scratches under his shirt. To which I replied, “He’s a boy. This is natural. Did he hit anyone?” No. OK!

Wednesday 09.30
Tomorrow begins a very special 8 days of vacation for the entire country in honor of China’s 60th birthday. When I picked Schäfer up from school, I asked his teacher if he should come back on Friday, October 9th or will they resume preschool on Monday, October 12th? Teacher Liu said that they will resume school on Friday October 9th and they will have a make-up class on Saturday, October 11th. What in the world they are going to make up, I’m not sure.

I noticed that there were only about 12 kids in the room so I asked where the children were. The teacher said that most of the kids had already gone traveling with their parents on holiday. No wonder everyone was so happy! Twelve students, 3 teachers, 1 assistant, and one very happy Schäfer who came home singing in Chinese a new song about an airplane.

No hitting. No biting. No scratches. What a great way to start 8 days of vacation!

3 comments to Learning the Preschool Ropes

  • Patti

    sandra, i'm quite distraught about schäfer's experiences at this school. i understand the cultural differences and i hope that it evens out. it should not be this way.

  • Gail

    Sandra, It sounds like you are being a very mature and caring parent. You are so wise to support the teachers and also monitor the situation from Shafer's point of view. He is soooo adorable. I know your heart just melts when you look at him. Much love,gst

  • jdavis2

    wow! schafer has got quite a life! sounds very busy… but i don't think so busy as to warrant a makeup day! ha! always thankful for kind, carrying-schafer-around kind of teachers… and friends, even ones that sometimes bite!

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