Step 1: Dilemma

In Step 1 you will hear and read about two perspectives on a practice dilemma. The dilemma is about a teacher sharing a concern with a father of a preschool age child.

Meet China. She is a teacher in an NAEYC accredited program that serves children birth through five years of age. China’s program is a large full-day community child care center. She has become concerned about Aaron, a four-year-old boy in her classroom.

After listening, complete Activity 4.1a by describing the dilemma.

Video 4.1: The teacher’s viewpoint

China, a teacher in a large, full-day child care center shares a dilemma about how to express her concerns about little Aaron, a 4-year-old boy in her class, with his father Aaron. (running time: 2 min. 12 sec.)

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I’ve been teaching young children for over 3 years now and I feel like my experience has helped me understand why children act the way they do. But I am puzzled and concerned about Aaron, one of the 4-year-olds in my class. Aaron likes school and has a wonderful exuberance that he brings to everything, especially outside time and playing with other kids in the class. He is big for his age but he gets along well with everyone. He loves playing in the block area building large structures with other kids to climb in and out of. My concerns started a few weeks ago. I noticed that his play started getting too rough. Children are getting hurt and when I try to talk to him, he acts like he doesn’t hear me. At times he seems withdrawn and angry. What’s puzzling to me is that most of the time Aaron is great, but then there will be days when he doesn’t listen and won’t follow directions given by adults. What makes things harder is that Aaron’s dad is a single parent of 5 children. He is involved in his children’s lives and cares about them deeply. He values education and wants Aaron to do well. We have a friendly relationship, and I want to talk to him about my concerns, but I’m worried about how it will make him feel. He’s always kind and appreciative when I speak with him, but many days when he drops off the boys he seems very preoccupied, and at pick-up time he’s always in a hurry to leave. I don’t want to make his life more difficult but I’m concerned that if we don’t figure out how to help Aaron now, he is going to alienate other children and might have problems in kindergarten. I’m not sure what to do……. does Aaron need a hearing test? Is there something going on at home? Are his older siblings being too rough with him? Does his father have difficulty with Aaron’s behavior? Especially since Aaron’s mother is not with the family, what are the caregiving arrangements and is he getting enough attention? Most importantly, what is the best way for me to raise these concerns with his dad?

Video 4.2: The family’s viewpoint

Aaron, the father of little Aaron, a 4-year-old boy in a preschool classroom, shares his story and goals for his family’s future. (running time: 1 min. 37 sec.)

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I’m grateful for the program that my two youngest children are in. I’m a single-parent of 5. I’ve got a lot going on and it’s pretty crazy. So knowing that the twin boys are in a good place – that makes a big difference. The teachers are great there. I appreciate how much they have helped my boys. It hasn’t been easy on us. Our family has struggled with poverty, substance abuse, medical emergencies, and the twins have seen violence in the neighborhood. But it’s my priority to keep my children safe. With Aaron and Ahmad in this program, I know they are taken care of and learning. What I really want for my children is to have a future and I think we are finally on the right track.

Teachers in the past have sometimes caught me off guard, talking to me about not bringing in the right change of clothes for my boys, or not sending them to school with the right breakfast food. I think to myself, they have no clue what is going on with this family. We don’t always have food in the house. Or maybe I forgot about the note to bring a change of clothes, but I’m worried about how the kids are going to act up that day at school ‘cause of violent upheavals they went through the night before – that’s the last thing on my mind. That teacher didn’t see what my boys saw last night. I’m trying my best to create a safe-haven at home for my boys. I want to exclude negative influences because those influences are up and down the street all the time.