Expelled from preschool? www.ageofmontessori.org
“No child is more in need of a school-readiness-boosting preschool experience than a child who is being expelled or suspended from a preschool.”

Has anyone else noticed the latest disturbing trend of expelling preschool aged children from school? Preschool! That’s children three and under being “kicked out” out school for “challenging behavior.” The increasing reports are alarming. “According to the U.S. Department of Education, 6,743 children who were enrolled in district-provided pre-K in 2013-14 received one or more out-of-school suspensions. And that’s just public pre-K. Still more children were likely suspended from the nation’s many privately-run preschools and day cares.” (NPR, 2016.)

A new survey from the Maine Children’s Growth Council showed that, “More than 10 percent of Maine’s teachers and child care providers have expelled students as young as 3 years old from their programs because of challenging behaviors….” (BDN, 2016.)

This is unfortunate for a myriad of reasons. As a Montessorian, I understand that these “challenging” behaviors are actually the result of the child’s unfulfilled needs. These are inborn developmental needs (as opposed to “I need a chocolate chip cookie”.) The child cannot stop having such needs any more than he can stop needing air to breathe. He can only react–usually through misbehaving.

They [misbehaviors] are merely his reactions to an environment that has become inadequate…But we do not notice that. And since it is understood that the child must do what adults tell him, even though his environment no longer suits his needs, if he does not comply we say that he is ‘naughty’ and correct him. Most of the time we are unaware of the cause of his ‘naughtiness.’ Yet the child, by his conduct, proves what we have just said.

~Maria Montessori, From Childhood to Adolescence

Which is not to say that Montessori schools are exempt. There are some so-called Montessori schools run by people who lack the proper knowledge and training to understand the child’s needs and prepare the child’s environment accordingly. However, properly trained Montessori teachers have an in-depth understanding of child development and can therefore create an environment rich in appropriate activities, lessons, and tools.

Helping challenging children (or those exhibiting challenging behaviors) is…well…challenging. Teachers and parents need the right information, tools, and experience for those unavoidable times when the child requires a little extra guidance. As Yale University’s Walter S. Gilliam (Samuels, 2014) put it, “No child is more in need of a school-readiness-boosting preschool experience than a child who is being expelled or suspended from a preschool.”

Of course, there are several different theories as to why more and more preschoolers are being expelled such as bigger class sizes or trends toward less playtime or physical activity. As a parent, I tend to agree with Maria Montessori when she said, “What is generally known as discipline in traditional schools is not activity, but immobility and silence. It is not discipline, but something that festers inside a child, arousing his rebellious feelings.”

But when adults feel better equipped to work with children, expulsion rates go down. According to this 2016, Seattle Times article, “Preschoolers get expelled at three times the rate of students in elementary, middle and high schools. But when teachers get regular help from mental-health coaches, they expel at half the rate of those who don’t.”

So the moral of the story (in my humble opinion) is that this trend toward expelling our very youngest school children is the result of under-equipped adults. So where does the adult (whether teacher of parent) get the tools they need to deal with challenging behavior? Age of Montessori to the rescue! Check out AOM’s…call-Robert-today

Teacher Training Courses

Courses for Parents and Grandparents,

and other resources. Or call us 406 284-2160 today!


You may also like

Normalization in the Montessori Classroom

First Virtual Residency for Certification Students a Success!!

Leave a Repl​​​​​y

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked

  1. My child just today was expelled from the Brandon Florida location. I have no idea what to do, it’s the middle of the school year and it’s going to be very hard to find a school that is accepting new students. He was dismissed due to having a temper at times and crying. We have been working with him and trying to teach him and I feel like his school gave up on him and am so dissapointed…. I don’t know what to do

    1. Hi Adam,

      I don’t know how old your child is, so that is always a factor. Some young children are simply not emotionally ready for a new situation. When you are calm about it, even if you get him into another school, it would be well to ask for an appointment with the head of the school and ask for details and whatever documentation they have that led up to the dismissal. Without being defensive, try to learn how he was behaving and what they saw as the triggers. Most schools compile specifics and these might help you see patterns in what might trigger your son.

      Also, without any blame or shame, try to have your son explain what he thinks happened. On occasion there can be a personality conflict with the teacher or a child who was being mean that is behind certain misbehavior.

      Best wishes finding the best situation!
      Mary Ellen Maunz, M.Ed.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}