Transitions: Starting Pre-school Can be Hard
This just in from a mama whose eldest child just started pre-school and after a few weeks isn't very settled in. Anyone have experiences to share with her? Constructive guidance? Thoughts on integrating young kids into immersion programs?? She writes:
My son started preschool 3 weeks ago. My husband and I analyzed ourselves into a black hole about where to enroll him (can you tell he's our first child?). He is a sensitive soul, and has a lot of trouble with transitions. But he's also friendly and wants time to play with kids his own age. I could have (and maybe should have) enrolled him in a gentler school. One that is just for preschoolers, with small classes, one that starts later in the day, lets them move at their own pace, lets them focus on playing and learning the things they want to. That probably would have been the better match for his temperament.
But I really, more than anything, want my kids to be bilingual. I won't go into all the reasons I thought that was all-important, but I will say that I specifically decided to enroll him in an immersion school even though I knew it might challenge him more socially. Maybe 3 is too young for that, I don't know. I could totally design his life around his sensitive temperament, but then I would never be challenging him to step outside his comfort zone. His temperament is so foreign to me, I'm not sure if I'm helping him or hurting him by not being more sensitive to his sensitivities. Two disclaimers: he only goes 3 mornings a week, and I've specifically designed some time away from work and his younger sister so he and I can have a whole morning alone together once a week. He also gets some evening time alone with dad.
He's been in school for a few weeks now. He has 10-12 kids in his class on any given day, with 2 teachers. He gets lots of loving care, but the environment is definitely more chaotic than ours at home. The preschool is part of a larger elementary school, so he's already been exposed to an assembly (of sorts) and picture day, both set him back tremendously (lots of crying and looks of terror). The first week he actually did much better than I expected. I dropped him off, he went straight for the toys, and seemed pretty ok with me leaving. Starting in the second week he was crying and clinging to my leg all morning. He'd actually start at home, refusing to eat breakfast, get dressed, do anything that involved getting ready to leave. Then the whole way in the car he talks about how he doesn't want to go to school, he tells me the "kids do bad things (to him)". Then we get there and have long jags of crying and clinging.
I've tried staying a while, thinking maybe if I sat with him he would get more comfortable so I could leave without the drama. It didn't work. Only seemed to prolong the inevitable. I've tried dropping and just going. He cries, the teacher says for about 15 minutes, and then he calms down. When I pick him up he's always happy, seems to be having fun, and frequently doesn't want to leave (though he wouldn't want me to leave again either)! Maybe I just need to help him make friends? Schedule some one-on-one play dates with kids in his class so he can feel more attached/comfortable?
Do you have a kid that struggles with transitions? Did you go through this around school? Or anything else? Did anything help? Have you ever been in a situation where you decided to switch schools? Or drop school? If you did, how did you know it was time to make that choice?