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1-24-00  Question 2

Dear Preschool Teacher,
     I teach 4 year old preschoolers. Some are very young 5's when they are in class. The school wants me to teach them number values (which is greater than/lesser than), and teach a letter a week. Some of the young 5's cant keep up with the pace of a letter a week, and I feel as if it is kindergarten work. They are becoming frustrated, angry, and the school tells me that they must keep up or I have to "fail" them. That is completely against what I believe. That preschool isn't mandatory, these parents sent these kids to get acclimated to school atmosphere, and how can you pass or fail preschool?? The parents are getting on me for being too tough, the school says to keep on teaching a letter sometimes for only 2 days, and move on to the next. My question is, is it fair to keep a young 5 back if he has proven he is ready in all other areas?? The areas they are having a tough time on, will be recovered in kindergarten. I say pass them on, the school is telling me to fail these little ones.
Thank you for any advice
School Problems

 Dear School Problems,
    In my opinion what your school is doing is absurd. No preschooler should ever be expected to know all there letters inside and out as well as number values. This is more of something that should be touch on. It will be taught in Kindergarten. The school is asking you to teach completely inappropriate practices. The problem you seem to have is you are in the middle of trying to protect these little ones and keeping your job. You are right preschool is not mandatory and in no way should ever be a pass or fail thing. It should be nothing more the a suggestion from the teacher to the parents about whether there child is ready or not. Do you have conference with the parents? If you do you can tell the parent how you really feel about all this and to not take the pass or fail seriously. The point here is the parent have the ultimate choice on whether there child is ready for kindergarten or not.
     The most unfortunate part here is the children are who is suffering. This is the children's first taste of school. This needs to be the most positive it can be. Preschool will help to set the path for the rest of their school years. If they are angry and frustrated, there is a good chance they do not like school. This will be the path that follows them through the rest of their school years. Like I said I know you are between a rock and a hard place. Not knowing you job situation I am leery to suggest the following. I do not in any way want to be responsible for anyone quitting or losing their job. So, let me say upfront, please think long and hard before following these suggestions.

1. Go to your principal/ director armed. Tell them how inappropriate this situation is. Show them proof of Developmentally appropriate practices. Explain that for the welfare of the children this can not go on. If it is to continue maybe you should get it in writing.
Here is where can find some information about appropriate practices for this age group:

To get more information about this check your local library for article or call a local collage and ask to speak to the director or the early childhood department. Tell them your story and ask if they have a copy of any information you can share with the school.

2. If your Center/School is approved by the department of Child welfare (most schools are, I know in my state the only ones that do not have to be are church run schools.) report this to them. They will either send you in the right direction or come out and evaluate it themselves.  This page may help with that

3. If you program is accredited with NAEYC report the school to the authorities there.

    I wish you lots of luck and my last and final advice is to stick with your heart and do what is right for the children. Sometimes you are the only voice they have sticking up for them.
The Preschool Teacher

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