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Suspended from Preschool?

Should preschools have a zero tolerance stance on biting, pushing, hitting and the like – or should kids be allowed to be kids? A co-op preschool in Park Slope, Brooklyn (where I happen to live) has instituted a tough policy on aggressive behavior. Decided on by some of the parents, without the support of the teachers, the policy is that “children who hurt others (physically or emotionally) will be sent home immediately.” Although some of the parents described an unacceptable number of “violent incidents,” an outside teacher brought in to observe the classroom described the behavior as typical for that age.

I remember the first year of preschool was all about learning basic social skills; “Friends don’t bite friends” was a common refrain. At various points, my daughter was both the pusher and the pushee. You got a call from the teacher either way. As parents we generally handled it with a friendly e-mail or a sheepish drop-off inquiry to make sure everyone was ok. No one got too worked up when something happened to your kid, because you never knew when you’ll find yourself on the other side of the equation.  Had every kid who hurt another child been sent home, I’m pretty sure some days there would have been no one left to teach.

Let’s hear it, parents – what do you think? Is hitting/biting/kicking just an unpleasant but normal part of preschool development, or should schools refuse to tolerate it?