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Old 04-18-2013, 07:26 PM   #1
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What I learned from our local preschool for disabled kids....

I had to do a field study for college in a special education class I'm attending. I had to volunteer 15 hours to any local place that deals with disabled people, and we have a local preschool that is geared toward young children with disabilities ranging from speech, behavioral, handicaps, and more. Most of the kids have some sort of learning disablity that attend there, and the age group is 2-5.

The first day I went, they told me how they pride themselves on the healthy choices of snacks they provide for the kids. Without asking what kind, I just assumed veggies, crackers, fruits, etc. But after a few days of being there, no one would guess what I saw!!!

If the kids were good, they received jelly beans, candy corn, candy hearts, pop rocks, and yes marshmellows!!!! For snack time on the first day, the kids got to have 2 pancakes with high fructose corn syrup "maple syrup", and breakfast sausages. On another day, they got cheap cereal that had not so good ingredients! I don't even know the brand, but it's similar to the sweetened version of some sort of cheerios. And today, the kids got ramen noodles (full of salt and MSG).

These kids are pumped up full of meds from their disabilities and the last thing they need is a bunch of high fructose corn syrup, colors and dyes, msg, and preservatives, and nitrates!!

Because I was being graded on my observation, participation, and how I acted, I felt like I couldn't say anything. I watched after the kids got helping after helping of this crappy food, just before they were to load on the busses for home. Imagine how wild they are when they get there. My kids don't handle processed foods well, and I'm sure these little preschoolers couldn't either, but they are gone before the food is digested.

Also, the kids never have to wash hands unless they go potty. I'm such a germ a phob LOL! The kids have their hands in their noses, and mouths and share toys. The toys haven't been washed, and their "clean up" consists of a rag and dish soap. There's no disinfectant sprays, and there is dust on things that haven't been touched in a while.

I don't know about you, but if you're kids preschool or day care provides snacks, and you are picky on what your kid eats, make sure you get a detailed list of what they will be served.

I know I'll get some people responding to this thinking it's no big deal, but for me, I wouldn't want my kids having those foods especially at that young of age on a daily basis. (most of the kids attend every day since it's a special education classroom setting).

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Old 04-18-2013, 09:04 PM   #2
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I understand what you are saying and I agree. But something to keep on mind is that most likely the majority of those children probably eat those same exact foods at home. So while it may be a shock to your child's ( and mine to) system these littles probably don't feel any different. The majority of American families eat that way.
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Old 04-18-2013, 09:11 PM   #3
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Re: What I learned from our local preschool for disabled kids....

My son attends a developmental preschool. He gets a marshmallow if he puts his coat on, stands in line, and gets on the bus nicely. I am plenty OK with it. If that is what it takes to get him to do that, I am fine. Its actually in his behavior plan.

Likewise, if he can sit in circle time for a Skittle--again--I am fine with it.

He is EH (Oppositional Defiant Disorder and Reactive Attacment Disorder). He doesn't give a hoot about stickers on a chart, a high five, or a hug from his teacher. However, he will listen (sometimes) for an M and M or a marshmallow.

Teachers find the currency for each child. For many, they need constant feedback. Ledger is one of those kids. For some, it is a sticker. For some, it is a candy. We will do whatever it takes to help the kids be successful, and if it means some sugar, so be it.

The snacks our school offers are brought in by the parents. They ask for crackers or goldfish, but are at the mercy of what parents donate. His teacher buys the skittles and marshmallows with her own money.
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Old 04-18-2013, 09:14 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Three Little Monkeys View Post
I understand what you are saying and I agree. But something to keep on mind is that most likely the majority of those children probably eat those same exact foods at home. So while it may be a shock to your child's ( and mine to) system these littles probably don't feel any different. The majority of American families eat that way.
This is probably true for many kids. I know our preschools typically do apples/cheese, crackers/cheese, yogurt/crackers. While they aren't the all natural versions its at least a little better!
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Old 04-19-2013, 08:02 AM   #5
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Re: What I learned from our local preschool for disabled kids....

I would look into a reporting agency of some sort. Most places you can report anonymously. I am not saying the school is or is not following policy, we dont know for sure. but there are agencies that do. and its fine to call with a concern about food and hygiene procedures. its very possible that the teachers and staff are getting to lax on this.
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Old 04-19-2013, 10:11 AM   #6
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Re: What I learned from our local preschool for disabled kids....

Also keep in mind that most schools dont have a lot of funding to buy great foods. Fresh foods are expensive and they may not be able to buy good foods and really I hate to say it, but it is pretty normal to have tons fo crap food at school. I went to a school that served pizza and french fries EVERY DAY. They had to offer a veggie and a fruit and milk, but they dont require you to take them all.

Like a pp said, candy is common currency. It is normal to find something that gives some incentive and use it.
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Old 04-19-2013, 10:21 AM   #7
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Re: What I learned from our local preschool for disabled kids....

My son went to a 50/50 developmental preschool (half "normally" developing kids, half "at risk" or diagnosed with something), and this was NOT the way they operated. The kids had to constantly wash their hands (upon arrival, after sneezing, before meals, ect). They were VERY strict about it.

Their snack/meal schedule did leave a little to be desired, but as pp mentioned, they had a fairly limited budget, but that doesn't mean that they couldn't do the best they could with the money. It doesn't sound like they are offering/providing the required balanced meals - you can always make a complaint to your local DSS or whoever manages the child care in your state about the snacks/meals provided, and they wouldn't know it was you.
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Old 04-20-2013, 07:24 PM   #8
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Re: What I learned from our local preschool for disabled kids....

Is this a publicly funded program and are the students low income? I remember several years ago I worked in an after school program in a city middle school and the snacks provided to the kids were things like sugary cereal and snack cakes. Sometimes those are the only kinds of things they can get if they are required to go through certain food service vendors and/or are on a really tight budget. Also, in some situations the mentality is that the kids are at least getting fed, whereas they may not be getting much at home in low income situations.

Also, as others have said, I think the candy as rewards is a pretty normal thing in special education and I wouldn't be concerned about that unless there was some indication that the parents were unaware of it.

It does seem a little weird that they specifically mentioned the healthy food, though.
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Old 04-22-2013, 08:22 PM   #9
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Re: What I learned from our local preschool for disabled kids....

I'm not quite sure if how the school is funded, but I do know it's a tri county school, so there are 3 counties of children attending it.

BUT, even if this school is limited in funds, a bag of marshmellows, and a bag of goldfish crackers are not that much different, and I would think the crackers would be a less sugary option. One class did have them, and offered a choice for the kids, a jelly bean, or a cracker, and 3/4 of the class chose a cracker. They had more fun pretending the cracker was a real fish. They were completely adorable!

Other healthy affordable options could include raisins, pretzels, even organic gummies which isn't expensive either and tastes like candy

I totally get the whole "receiving a treat for sitting" and stuff. It's very rewarding, especially for young children, disabled or not. I would think that if each parent brought it 1 snack for the school year, there would be enough for the whole year.
There are several parents who seem well off, as their kids came in with adorable, clean outfits.

Or if they must give marshmellows, at least give the mini ones. They were giving the kids the big colorful ones. Sometimes, kids would get up to 4 of them. The sugar content in a 3 year old does add up especially when given raman noodles, and jelly beans in the same day :/
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Old 04-22-2013, 10:35 PM   #10
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Re: What I learned from our local preschool for disabled kids....

Honestly, most parents and teachers just don't care about a little sugar. I know mamas on this board are very anti-sugar But in mainstream America, most moms have different worries. A little sugar to gain compliance from an oppositional kid just isn't that uncommon.

For reference, this morning at the public school I teach at, breakfast was Cocoa Puffs cereal bar, chocolate milk, and an OJ. Lunch was pizza, nachos, spaghetti, or chicken nuggets with raw carrots, applesauce, jello, pineapple, and chocolate pudding (pick 2 sides).
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