There’s not a lot that I disagree with in my son’s Kindergarten classroom. His teacher is a wonderful woman who challenges her students on their individual levels. The other teachers and directors are friendly. His classmates have all become great friends. It turned out to be a good choice to keep him in private school for Kindergarten.
My one complaint is the introduction of the “Tattle Bear”.
This stuffed bear was introduced several months ago. Children are known for tattling on their friends. It happens on such a regular basis, that I understand the concept behind the Tattle Bear. The teacher wants to discourage the need to tattle on every little thing another student might be doing. So, instead of going to the teacher, the child goes to the bear and whispers the tattle to the bear. The idea is that the bear then tells the teacher.
First of all, my son has actually told me that this stuffed bear tells his teacher the things she doesn’t want to hear from the students. Just as we’re getting past the idea that Toy Story could be based on true events, now there is a stuffed bear in the classroom having regular conversations with the teacher. I believe in exercising the imagination of children, but something about this rubs me the wrong way.
And then there’s the fact that these children are not matured enough to know what constitutes a true need to tell on another student. If Sarah won’t let Johnny use any red crayons, the teacher shouldn’t need to get involved. Sarah and Johnny need to speak to each other about the problem and figure out a solution. I can see how this can be an educational situation for both of the children. They are old enough to figure this one out for themselves.
Then again, what about when Marcus slaps Christina? If Christina just tattles to the Tattle Bear, what is actually being done about the violence in the classroom?
This is based on a true story. My son told me once that his friend slapped him instead of “using his words” when they were having a disagreement. I asked what he did, and he told me that he told the Tattle Bear.
Because the Tattle Bear will tell the teacher.
Except we all know the Tattle Bear won’t do this. The friend, whether he believes the bear to actually speak to the teacher or not, will see no repercussions for his actions.
While tattling can get annoying, sometimes it is necessary. If one student physically hurts another, then the victim needs to know he is in a safe environment where he can discuss it with a trusted adult. Not a stuffed teddy bear.
When the children get into higher grades, where bullying is so rampant these days, they need to have that background of being able to identify who it is safe to tell about any bullying or abuse that is happening.
And it can’t just be the parent. I’m glad that my son can talk to me about what’s happening in school, but once he tells me his friend slapped him, what can I do? The event has already taken place. I can go talk to the teacher, who can talk to the friend, but too much time has passed already. In the life of a child, it is done and over with. If the repercussions are not immediate, then they don’t make a difference in the child’s future actions.
The friend that slapped my son is not a bully. He’s a nice kid and I’ve chatted with his grandfather a few times at events or when we cross paths at pick-up or drop-off. He has a better attitude than a friend my son used to have that did have the makings of a bully. My son and this friend have a history of playing well together, and often. I harbor no negative thoughts about him specifically.
It’s the situation I don’t like. If my son is hit at school, by anyone, he needs to know that is an acceptable time to talk to the teacher. How can he learn the difference between what is okay to “tattle” about and what isn’t, if he doesn’t learn firsthand?
I explained this to my son, and he understands that hitting is something it’s okay (and encouraged) to tell the teacher about. I am number one in teaching my child the way of the world, and I accept that responsibility. But I can’t be alone in this. I need to know that he is being taught by teachers who will make themselves available to talk to – no matter what – so I know he has a safe place to go to if he ever feels he can’t talk to me.
I hope that doesn’t ever happen, but it’s always good to be prepared. Because there’s no telling what might happen in our futures.
P.S. I happened upon a tip written by a teacher in Maryland who uses a Tattle Bear for children in kindergarten and first grade. There’s a slight difference. Instead of whispering the tattle to the bear, the children are to write down what they want to say on an index card. The index card gets put into a coffee can that the bear holds on to. This seems like it might be a better idea. We’re still not dealing with immediate consequences, but at least this way the teacher can monitor the tattles. Plus, the kids get to practice their writing while learning the difference between telling and tattling.