For those who witnessed policemen handcuffing a tantrum-throwing kindergartner a few months back, a new study about behavioral problems at preschools should come as no surprise. Yale University’s Child Study Center reports that about 5,000 preschoolers are expelled every year, a number that is triple that of most k-12 public schools (USA Today, May 16). Researchers say this proof supports “what observers say is a worsening behavior problem among very young students” (ibid.). Further indication of behavioral problems can be seen in a survey conducted in four large child-care centers, which reported that 18 percent of their 2- to 5-year-olds were at risk of being expelled (Christian Science Monitor, May 18). Conduct that put these children at risk included “biting, destruction of property, and temper tantrums” (ibid.).
Researchers believe more programs are needed to support teachers who deal with behavioral problems. What’s really needed is for parents to take an active role in preparing their children for school. Many children are pushed into preschool programs before they are ready. Walter Gilliam, the author of the Yale report, told reporters that “these 3- and 4-year-olds are barely out of diapers” (USA Today, op. cit.). Parents have a responsibility to make sure their young children go to school when they are old enough and have been thoroughly prepared to learn. Right behavior, including basic skills such as sitting still, politeness and listening, needs to be taught to children before they can be expected to succeed at school. Without these skills, preschoolers are ill-equipped to receive a proper education themselves and disrupt the process of learning for others. In such cases, teachers are left with few options besides expulsion.