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A Critical Incident


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please help, i have a 18 month old key child, his parents refuse to let him play outside, or engage in any sort of messy play because they think it makes him ill. i have tried to discuss the benefits of outdoor play and how sand and water benefits him, but answer is no. management say i cant exclude him from these activities but i must distract him from them. its driving me mad what shall i do? :o

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We had something similar a few years ago where a parent refused to allow her child to wear suncream for not very sound reasons. She insisted on him attending and would dress him in inappropriate clothing in order to prevent him being exposed to the sun, or would tell him not to play outside (he was 4) so he then always told us he wanted to stay in when his body language told us otherwise. I'm afraid we never did come to a satisfactory conclusion with mum, but since then we have made our outdoor play and sun cream requirements part of our policies. All parents are told about how much time we spend outside in advance of starting with us and then they sign to say they agree with and will abide by our policies. We did this to prevent the same thing occurring again. This is the only way we could see around it happening. Do you have information about your outdoor access in pre-start information that you could point to in a "this is what you signed up for" way? Still won't be easy I know but it might help a bit, and if not now maybe look for this in the future to stop this with other families.

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What kind of compromise do you think you could come to - would parents allow him to have "his own dedicated" sand, say in a cat litter tray on the table, similarly could he just have a bowl of water to himself perhaps it is the sharing aspect which makes them think he picks up bugs and let's be honest, it's not beyond the bounds of possibility. As for outside, again, a compromise - can he be kept close to the building's door with a few activities to occupy him and agree that he only goes out on fair weather days, obviously it should be his choice to go out or not, and staffing for one little boy can be tricky, but would staffing ratios allow you to have a "small outside area" for just a few children quite nearby to your outside door.

 

I compromise where I have to - it doesn't bother me - I own my own pre-school and bend to nobody else's wishes by mine and the parents, but we always get through somehow, slowly, slowly get the parent's confidence and trust in what you do.

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I had a parent tell me the other week not to take her child out during the morning because it was too cold, but I reminded her that she came out in the morning at 8 o'clock to get the train to bring him to pre-school and that if he could come out in the cold at that time then he could go out during the morning. It was because the child had told her he didn't get the toy he wanted that was why he didn't want to go outside.!!!

 

Has mum said why he gets ill playing in sand and water? Maybe let them come and watch him so they can see what he is missing. Can they not give him something like vitamins or Echineacea to build up his immune system so he doesn't get ill. What illness is he getting.

I do know from some of our Health Visitors that schools are now asking for a medical certificate or letter from Doctors if a parent says a child mustn't do something or mustn't go out. I have asked parents for more information from HV or doctors on why they have said child can't do something. It does make parents think twice about why they are stopping their child from doing something!

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We had something similar a few years ago where a parent refused to allow her child to wear suncream for not very sound reasons. She insisted on him attending and would dress him in inappropriate clothing in order to prevent him being exposed to the sun, or would tell him not to play outside (he was 4) so he then always told us he wanted to stay in when his body language told us otherwise. I'm afraid we never did come to a satisfactory conclusion with mum, but since then we have made our outdoor play and sun cream requirements part of our policies. All parents are told about how much time we spend outside in advance of starting with us and then they sign to say they agree with and will abide by our policies. We did this to prevent the same thing occurring again. This is the only way we could see around it happening. Do you have information about your outdoor access in pre-start information that you could point to in a "this is what you signed up for" way? Still won't be easy I know but it might help a bit, and if not now maybe look for this in the future to stop this with other families.

thanx, management have said they are looking into changing their wording on the policy and also having a document signed by new starters that all children go outside which is a great idea but dosent really help me at this time.

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What kind of compromise do you think you could come to - would parents allow him to have "his own dedicated" sand, say in a cat litter tray on the table, similarly could he just have a bowl of water to himself perhaps it is the sharing aspect which makes them think he picks up bugs and let's be honest, it's not beyond the bounds of possibility. As for outside, again, a compromise - can he be kept close to the building's door with a few activities to occupy him and agree that he only goes out on fair weather days, obviously it should be his choice to go out or not, and staffing for one little boy can be tricky, but would staffing ratios allow you to have a "small outside area" for just a few children quite nearby to your outside door.

 

I compromise where I have to - it doesn't bother me - I own my own pre-school and bend to nobody else's wishes by mine and the parents, but we always get through somehow, slowly, slowly get the parent's confidence and trust in what you do.

 

we are pushing for the compromise and asking mom every day "would this be ok" and hopefully she will become to accept that he enjoys this kind of play and will allow it. she feels he always has a cold and when he ill cant bring him to nursery so has to have time off with him but still has to pay nursery fees! she blames the water because he gets wet and can understand why she dont want him outside but sand play etc.

this is still early days and we are working at getting her confidence in us back

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