Tuesday, October 23, 2007

A milestone I would have preferred to put off for awhile

10/23/07: First Call from the Principal (Regarding a Disciplinary Issue).

So apparently Jo decided to let her fists do the talking during a.m. recess today. And then she and her sparring partner kept up their beef once they returned to the classroom. Pretty soon they both earned themselves a trip to the principal's office. I don't know about the other kid (the principal intimated that there was more than enough blame to be shared by the two of them), but Jo's punishment was to miss the next recess and to sit by herself at the "behavior table" during lunch.

The thought of her small little self eating her lunch all alone makes me want to cry.

Setting that aside, I am wondering what the etiquette of all this is. Obviously I will reinforce the "use your words" lesson at home, but do I also have her write a note of apology? To the other kid, the teacher, the principal, all of the above? When I see the teacher after school, do I say something (keep in mind she'll be in the doorway of the school with tons of other kids and parents swarming around)?

And what did the other kid say that made Jo want to punch him in the stomach?

Update, 10/24: I've now talked to Jo, the teacher, and another mother who happened to witness the big fight. Apparently the other child was all up in Jo's face calling her "stupid." She told him several times to stop and he wouldn't, so she slugged him. The two adults corroborated Jo's contention that she was provoked by this child, so I am going to let it go. No apology for him! And since I spoke to the teacher (she called me yesterday afternoon, which I appreciated; I had quickly caught her eye at pick-up time and said "I'm sorry, I'll talk to her"), I don't think we need to get into an apology note for her either.

I do feel bad that this dispute interrupted class time, but then again, kindergarten is about learning social skills and how to interact in a group. I reminded Jo this morning to steer clear of the name-caller, and to ask for help from an adult if she needed it. I think she'll be fine, and honestly? I'd rather have an assertive girl than a pushover.


Suz said...

I don't know... if it were me, I would want to do everything that you describe, but I wouldn't do anything until I heard her side of the story and probably not even then. She already suffered the punishment, so I would just let it go. Those are my thoughts, at any rate.

Kimberly said...

She's been punished enough. She's already been forced to apologize to the other kid, and it's the principal's job to deal with this crap. If you're really committed, you could talk to her about disrupting the teacher's class, and work around to an apology for that. And one for Mom, too. Because getting called by the principal is never any fun.

Ask her what he said. She'll tell you.

Anonymous said...

First of all, when you get her home, HUG HER! Then sit her down and ask her what happened that made her lose her cool and feel like hitting was the only option.

Then, yes. Let it go. She's already been punished and there is the humiliation of the "behavior table".

Patois said...

Absolutely need to hear how she sees it first. I think that would guide you to what to do next. (I really suck at the advice business, don't I? Good thing you're not paying me for it.)

Mrs. Wheezer said...

Having btdt, I recommend talking to Jo and getting her to explain herself. We spend a LOT of time making practice runs on how to deal with various scenarios. Once we get one settled, the kids always find another. When I talk to the teacher, I give her a general, 'We're working on teaching S. how to handle disagreements.'

Jo's been punished at school and made reparations to the other student. All you need to do now is assure the school you're working on her behavior at home. What do I know, my kid thought throwing rocks at another kid was fun...

Bon said...

poor Jo, and poor you.

i would, like the others, start by trying to find out what it was that upset her so much that she reacted like that. hugs and stern expectations about not hitting can go hand in hand.

but it's funny - while i can do it as a teacher, i KNOW it's going to be harder as a parent.

Suzanne said...

Yikes. I don't have any advice on how to handle this, but I am paying attention to the other responses you get in case this happens to us! In the meantime, I'd just want to get the full story from Jo, too.

Lisa said...

Sounds like she had a rough day. Sounds like you had a rough day too. When a teacher (or principal) tells you of your child's struggle with a lesson, directions, emotions or friendships, it just breaks your heart.

Last week Seth was having a bad day and I happened to be volunteering that day. At one point I went over to hug him and we were both sitting there silently with tears rolling down our faces.

No one told me kindergarten would be so difficult. For them and for us moms.

jen said...

now see, that's what i was thinking...why was said that she needed to defend herself? and did that kid get the "behavior" table...?

gets me all riled up because i can sit here on your behalf and get defensive and protective and you have to actually deal with all of it.

poor her, and you.

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

I like what the others said -- let the school handle the discipline issue, while you deal with 'other options to hitting' at home.

My 5yo's been wrestling with the neighbor kids (all in fun, on all sides) and I'm just waiting for that to hit the playground. Bleh.

Mrs. Who said...

Well, as a teacher, here's my reaction. First, did she try telling the teacher before she slugged the kid? That should be the first option and a good teacher would put a stop to it. I would recommend that for next time. And, as far as the other kid? That was definitely bullying and should also have been handled by the school. I hope he was punished as well!

Tree said...

I agree with you on prefering that your child stand up for herself rather than allow herself to be bullied and / or called names. Good for Jo!

We have had a few incidents at school this year with Nathan asserting himself and being written up for it. For instance, it was reported that he was being bossy. He reports that he simply told two other children to not cut in line when they did so. They did not listen to him, so who was being rude? All children. But he was standing up for himself.

I like the idea of taking this incident and using it instructionally.

mothergoosemouse said...

Go Jo!!!

I bet the trip to the principal's office scared the poo-poo out of her, and missing recess/sitting at the behavior table is punishment enough.

Frankly, I'm proud of her. I hope Tacy would have the gumption to slug somebody who was giving her garbage. Not because I want to encourage hitting, but because I'd rather see her assert herself than cry or tattle.

Magpie said...

"I'd rather have an assertive girl than a pushover" = me too.

Glad to hear the update.

hamiam said...

It hits to the gut, this particular milestone, eh?

My daughter had a similar incident last year in kindergarten also. The hit was not "intentional" per se, and had been provoked by a "game" whereby she misjudged her strength, so I concluded that the school's punishment was enough...that is until it became clear that she'd hidden some of the details from me. Then there was some loss of privilege.

There was communication though, throughout the whole thing.