22 answers

HELP With a Smoother Kindergarten Drop-off

I am at a loss as to how to make my 5 year old son's drop off to his public school kindergarten easier for him. We moved on Thanksgiving Day and he started full-day kindergarten (what the public school offers) after the Christmas break. He has never had preschool before, this is his first schooling experience. He cries and clings to me and darts after me, leaving his classroom. When that fails, he resorts to being physical towards me, punching at me and being defiant verbally, telling me "no, no, no." I have tried postivie reinforcement, rewarding him, giving him little notes to hold onto, even loss of privileges at home. I've tried getting him there both a little earlier than class time, and even a little later, into the class time. Nothing is working. He has been going now for the month of January, and I would like to think, would've adjusted by now. His teacher assures me that after about 1/2 hour of grumpiness, he is fine. It breaks my heart and literally leaves me sick in the stomach to leave like this every morning. He is fine at home (a bit hesitant knowing he's going to school), fine in the car, and fine walking to his classroom. It's the actual leaving him there and knowing the separation is inevitable and happening, that totally freaks him out?

Anything I'm missing, or haven't tried? His teacher is very nice, but young and a first year teacher, who hasn't offered me any suggestions.

Thanks, please help asap! I can't make him (or me) continue going through this......

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

My son attends a montessori school which usually have "drop offs" meaning one of the staff or teachers takes my son out of the car and he walks into the school (assisted). Therefore, there is no mommy-walking-away and tears. There are ages 2.9 to 6.9 who attend this school - no crying around. Maybe you could ask a teacher/aide to meet you and call it "drop off." I've always thought parents crowding elementary school hallways causes too much chaos for those sweet little minds :)

Hello S.,

I would say the only thing you CAN do is request a change of classrooms. You are a wonderful mom and there's nothing else you can do. He knows that he's winning. Now it's time to ask for the approapriate help from school. Other teachers will know what to do and will not put up with that!
IF that's not possible try talking to him at bedtime or when you have a "moment" with him and tell him what you expect from him. That works for my son.

PS-My 5yr. had the same in preschool!

More Answers

I noticed that you are a Navy wife as well. Has your husband been gone off and on? This may be why your son does not want you to leave either. I was an Army wife and know this first hand. My son went to kindergarten through halfway into 2nd and he was the same exact way...until 2nd grade and he was making himself sick over it. Everyone that I shouldn't have listened to said that sending him was the right thing to do. I even would stay in the parking lot during kindergarten, so that he could see me out the window! I tried everything as well. I finally decided my gut feeling was right and I pulled the children out and homeschooled all the way through. This gave them the security that I was not leaving them, as their dad had to be gone quite a bit with the military. This was during the early 90's(desert storm). It was hard and children hear all kinds of things regarding war and they do wonder if their dad is okay. Some of the kids at his school would say things, even at that young age, about what they heard on the news.

He may just need an extra year at home or consider homschooling him. It is a lot of fun!

While I may not have useful advice, I do empathize with you as I went through this with my daughter. It went on for months- I would say about 3-4 months and then we were home free. You say it has only been the month of January? Maybe it will get easier soon...It sounds like you have tried a lot of the same things I did. I finally had to get there early and have one of the school staff walk her down to the classroom. Me walking her all the way down to the classroom seemed to escalate things. It is heartbreaking, yes....she still clung to me even though drop off was in the lobby! Best of luck.

Your child naturally wants to be with you. 5 is too young to sending your kid off. Look into homeschooling him at least for a few years, until he feels comfortable leaving you for extended periods of time. Home schooled kids are happy and very well adjusted and not made to feel badly about loving their parents and wanting to be with them. I home schooled my kids and it worked out well for us. It's worth trying even if only for a few years.

Hello S.,

I would say the only thing you CAN do is request a change of classrooms. You are a wonderful mom and there's nothing else you can do. He knows that he's winning. Now it's time to ask for the approapriate help from school. Other teachers will know what to do and will not put up with that!
IF that's not possible try talking to him at bedtime or when you have a "moment" with him and tell him what you expect from him. That works for my son.

PS-My 5yr. had the same in preschool!

Staying and coddling him at school allows his emotions to escalate. When you get to school, say goodbye and walk away. Resist the temptation to stay and make him feel better. The teacher will handle him. Although it will be hard for a week or so, eventually the behavior will subside and he'll realize that throwing a fit doesn't get him anything.

You have received some great advice about pictures of you on the desk, shirt, etc, or having an adult come get him out of the car, writiing/telling him a story, etc. I think these are all great suggestions. I do not think you have to resort to changing classrooms or pulling him out of school. He needs the consistency. If he's fine when he's at school, it sounds like it's a matter of really setting him up for success in the morning. At our school, parents do not normally escort their kids into the building. Kids are dropped off on the playground and escorted in with teachers. I think that helps a little bit with the separation anxiety.

What if, for example, you made up a rewards system where he would earn lunch with you (can you go in and eat lunch with him?) on Friday (or sooner if necessary) if he controlled his emotions better in the morning? Or perhaps you could dismiss him a few minutes early once a week for improving the mornig routine. Or, you could volunteer to bring in a snack for the class once a week. That way, his reward is time with you, but at an appropriate time and in an appropriate way.

Goodluck! (My son will be in K next year... should be interesting! I don't know if having me directly upstairs will be a good thing or a bad thing... but we'll see!)

my daughter would do the same thing and it broke my heart.like the teacher said to you hers said once your gone shes fine within a few minutes. what i did was laminated a picture of myself and pinned it to her shirt. believe it or not it worked.when she felt sad she could see me on her shirt. she had never had pre school either. you gotta remember its his first year in school and hasnt been away from u and all the other children and the whole routine of school is prbly very overwhelming for him. god luck

I can sympathize with you. I remember the days when I was dropping my son (who is now 6) at preschool when he was 3 and 1/2. He was also with his twin sister. Hang in there and don't give up. My son took about 1-2 months to stop crying at drop-off which was only 2 1/2 days per week. I remember the preschool teacher saying "this to shall pass" and it does. You have got to remember that at age 5, he has really gotten use to having you around. This is a big transition for him. I would suggest getting some books about school and talking about the benefits of learning (i.e. this how you can become an airplane pilot or whatever may be his interest). Also try to find out what aspect of school that he likes and talk about that. When I struggled with the transition, I tried to remind myself that I am teaching him some independence and sometimes huge developmental gains can be challenging. But once you are through the process, they are so rewarding and he will be so proud of himself. Maybe you could focus on the fact that he is upset for only 1/2 hour and try to lessen that time or say your teacher says that you do fine after a little bit of time to adjust. Also try to stay positive during drop-off (even if you have to fake it), kids can sometimes play off of our own conflicted emotions about saying goodbye to them. They told me to keep it short and sweet. Maybe talk to the teacher about having her or the class aide (I hope they have one) who can distract him while you make an exit. You also might minimize the focus on this issue at home (i.e. no charts or punishment), just do the drop-off, ask about his day and keep moving forward. I think sometimes kids feel pressure and fight any changes. He just may need some time to realize that this is part of life now and may need to change his attitude. I think he is doing pretty good if after 1/2 hour he is "doing fine" per the teacher. Good Luck and I hope some of this helps. Be strong and Be patient.

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