Can mental health training for teachers reduce preschool suspensions?
Chally Grundwag, a mental health consultant, faced three teachers gathered around a pint-size preschool table. “What kind of kids really push your buttons?” she asked the group.
The teachers at Kidango’s Dorsa Center in San Jose thought for a moment. “Crying ones,” one responded. “I want to say, ‘Stop crying; you’re going to be OK!’ But I can’t.”
A crying toddler may be a commonplace challenge for a parent, but for teachers confronted with more than a dozen meltdowns at once, stress can spike. And overwhelmed teachers may respond in a way that upsets the children further, setting off a cycle that contributes to a high rate of suspensions and expulsions for preschool children. That’s why Grundwag is trying to help.
“What do you do?” Grundwag asked the teachers who were sharing their frustrations with her.
“I say, ‘You can be upset. You can cry. I’m going to be right here,’” the teacher responded.