Addressing the Causes of Preschool Expulsions & Finding Alternatives

When a child is expelled from a preschool or early learning program, they may be struggling with an underlying emotional or behavioral concern that, if not addressed, may lead to lifelong negative consequences.

The American Academy of Pediatrics urges pediatricians, early learning professionals, and communities to provide alternatives to expulsion in an updated policy statement, "Addressing Early Education and Expulsion," published in the November 2023 Pediatrics.

"All children need and deserve safe, stable, and nurturing places to learn how to interact with others," said P. Gail Williams, MD, FAAP, an author of the statement, written by the Council on Early Childhood and Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health.

"When preschoolers hit, kick, scream, use harsh language or refuse to follow adult instructions, their peers don't feel safe. This is why school administrators, teachers and child care professionals often resort to suspending or expelling a child who behaves in aggressive or harmful ways. But research suggests that children who act out in this way have more going on, and there are ways that we as pediatricians and caregivers can help."

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