Let's talk discipline for the youngest students

Once in a while, I get reports from our kindergartener about bad behavior that he’s seen from classmates or others at school. This month, he was on the receiving end of it from another youngster on his school bus. We moms dutifully exchanged emails, and a handwritten apology note came home the next day. Problem solved.

That got me thinking about how behavior problems in elementary school can escalate, and the challenges that teachers and administrators face when deciding how to handle young “offenders.”

The Seattle Times has been taking a deep look at discipline in schools, and the latest installment is a fascinating examination of suspension policies for the youngest kids. About a dozen schools in Washington State are trying a new approach that has greatly reduced suspensions by looking not just at the behavior but at the student as a whole.

My favorite line of this story is a poster that’s up in one school: “You are more than your mistakes.” It’s really worth reading (full story here), along with two previous installments: Suspending kids doesn’t fix bad behavior, and, In school discipline, intervention may work better than punishment.

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