I came across this blog (http://notjustcute.com) with an intriguing post about the rise in preschool expulsions due to challenging/dangerous behavior. According to the blog, preschoolers are being expelled at “three times the rate of students K-12”. The writer of the blog maintains that “pushed-down” curriculum is the primary cause of young children being expelled, because “Feeling the pressure to perform, many schools don’t feel they have time to teach about social skills, or to take time to model problem-solving.”
I am a vocal opponent of pushed-down curricula and I can see where academic pressure might contribute challenging behavior, but I think there is more to the picture. As I read some of the blog comments, I noticed that many agreed with the blogger, and several criticized the teaching staff as being unqualified and/or not willing to work with challenging children. I had to think about this for a bit. One commenter did step out and say that lack of staff (especially trained SPED staff) was a contributing factor, and that made sense to me.
In an effort to find varying perspectives, I brought this topic to two of my co-workers. We had a lively discussion. One co-worker maintained that our main objective should be the safety of all the children and if one child was a threat to the others—beyond the “expected” developmental transgressions (like a toddler biting in frustration) then letting that child go should be considered. The other co-worker said that we should consider the fact that “this is the other children’s preschool experience too” and we should not allow one child to continually disrupt the day.
Hearing these perspectives opened my eyes. My teaching philosophy has always been to take children where (and who) they are and help them get where they need to be. However, I can understand the perspectives of my co-workers.
What do you think? Should preschoolers ever be “expelled” for “dangerous” behavior? What should teachers do to accommodate children with challenging behavior if staff levels are low? What do you see as contributing factors to the rise in preschool expulsions? I think this is an interesting issue and I am eager to hear what you have to say.