19 answers

Kindergarten Blues

My little girl just started Kindergarten and is having a really hard time adjusting. Her first week of school was great. She was excited to go, no problems what.so.ever... and then all of the sudden she started having breakdowns at school. She has to be pulled away from me in the morning and she cries off and on throughout the day at school. (She is only there 1/2 day.) I've had phone calls during the day from her teacher and have even had to go pick her up once because they were unable to get her calmed down. I don't know what to do. I've tried getting her to draw me pictures of what she does/ doesn't like about school. I've tried talking with her. I've tried giving her something from home to keep with her, I'm keeping goodbye's short and sweet, tried incentives... I hate to leave her at school knowing that she is going through this!! She is sooo academically ready for Kindergarten. She went through 2 years of preschool with no problems like this at all.
If anyone has any suggestions at all I would love to hear them! This breaks my heart. I'm dreading taking her to school tomorrow morning, but I need to get her to understand that this is something that she has to do.

What can I do next?

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I agree with the others that there might be a problem with the teacher or possibley the kids at school since she did well in preschool. Getting her in another class if things don't change soon sounds like a good idea.

3 moms found this helpful

If she went through 2 years of preschool with no problem I'd wonder if something isn't going on at school. Are there any kids in her class that were with her in preschool? Maybe you can ask their parents how their kids are doing. You never know there may be a bully in her class. Kids are very hesitant even in KDG to tell parents or teachers about bullies (you know the whole rules of the playground thing)

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I agree with the others that there might be a problem with the teacher or possibley the kids at school since she did well in preschool. Getting her in another class if things don't change soon sounds like a good idea.

3 moms found this helpful

I'm not a elementary school teacher, but I do teach pre-school and I have never had to send a child home due to crying. Maybe it is the teacher. If she hasn't adjusted in the next week or so, I would try to get her switched to another class and see it that helps. If a child is not able to adjust and was in pre-school for two years with no problem, the only explanation I can think of is that her and her teacher are not clicking. I'm not saying the teacher is mean, but maybe not the right teacher for your daughter. That's just my opinion!

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The Principal at my daughter's school (she's also a kindergartner) gave the parents a good idea: If your child is missing you or having a difficult time adjusting, send a picture of yourself with them. Tell her that nobody has to know about the "Special picture" and to hide it inside her pencil box (tape to the inside lid) and whenever she misses you she can peek inside the box and see you! Then show her a picture of herself that you are going to "Tape" inside your purse or somewhere else she knows you'll see. That way you'll be able to see her too! The principal said that the photos work better than "items" from home, because they actually get to see you. And feel closer to you.
I wish you and your daughter the best of luck. Ask your principal if he/she has any creative ideas that have worked in the past. Or your PTO president, they are always full of great stories!

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M. -

What about contact a childs parent that is in her class & schedule after school play day or weekend play. This way she'll have a buddy in & outside of school.

L.

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M.,
Fist of all, I feel your pain. It's so hard to send our children off knowing that they may have a hard time while away. It sounds to me, though, like your daughter is experiencing a "low" period following the excitement and anticipation of the beginning of Kdg. This is similar to the "birthday party breakdown". So often, a new or special experience is talked about in advance, everyone gets excited, all sorts of plans are made, and out-of-the-ordinary shopping trips happen with lots of purchases made (clothes, school supplies/party supplies, presents). This is followed by the excitement of the actual event itself (first day/week of school). Then.........reality sets in. School is no longer a party or special event, gifts and surprises are no longer being purchased. At this point, kids often have 2nd thoughts about this new routine. It's confusing for them -- they've looked so forward to this experience, everyone said it was going to be wonderful, but it's really kind of scary -- and they miss the safety, security and warmth of home and mom.

It's very normal. Just because you don't see other children exhibiting the same behaviors doesn't mean your child's reactions are alarming -- each child copes in his/her own way.

I like the previously-mentioned idea about sending a picture of you (family photo). Also, sending a "love note" in the lunch box is a nice little pick-me-up in the middle of the day. Have you read the story, "The Kissing Hand"? It is a sweet, appropriate story, and offers another idea for bonding and security for kids.

Also, I strongly suggest developing a special routine for her after school. Maybe you could snuggle up in a chair together and she can show you all the "surprises" in her backpack, or share a glass of juice and let her tell you about her day.

Perhaps you can appoint your Kdg daughter as the "teacher" of your 3-year-old. Explain that the younger sibling loves the her so much, that he/she wants to pretend to be at Kdg, but you don't know what she's doing all day. Let the Kdg child set up a "Kdg room" in your house, and she can be the "teacher" for her sibling (if the sibling, of course, will cooperate....) It could be really fun for all. Sometimes kids think they are missing "fun" stuff at home. If you make her think she is the one having the "fun", she may want to share with the rest of you.

Even though your daughter attended preschool for two years, this new school situation can bring out concerns typically expected of kids first experiencing school. Remember, this is a new and different experience from preschool. She had become comfortable at her preschool -- she knew her way around; she knew where the bathroom was; she knew all the teachers; she was one of the "big" kids. Now, she's in a different building (probably), with different teachers -- all of whom have different expectations, with a different schedule, and different classmates. She's no longer one of the leaders of the school, but is instead surrounded by hundreds of people WAY bigger than her. Because she is just one of 15-20 "new kids" to her teacher, she may not currently be getting the personal recognition and attention she'd grown accustomed to in her preschool environment. There is SO much new stuff, it outweighs the fact that she's been to school before.

It may take some time for her to feel comfortable, then confident, in her new situation. While this can be a very difficult time for everyone (your child, you, teachers, other students), it is really important for you to continue what you are already doing: keep good-byes short, but heartfelt. Don't let her see that you are worried about how she'll handle herself. Show confidence in her abilities to cope. Let her know how much you love her. Acknowledge that new situations are scary -- share an example of a time when you felt worried or apprehensive. Let her know that everyone gets nervous, or lonely, or scared....it makes us know how strong and brave we are when we overcome these feelings.

This may sound random and corny, but here's an example of something you can do to bond with your daughter, and help strengthen her confidence in herself. Find a fairly steep hill near your house and take your daughter there. Talk to her at the bottom of the hill about how sometimes things seem so hard, we don't want to try to accomplish them. Then, spend time together climbing the hill -- hold hands and help each other along the way. Talk about how accomplishing hard things is sometimes easier when you have someone you trust to help you along. When you get to the top, take a deep breath and look down along the path you've just travelled. Talk about how hard it was to climb all the way to the top, but how good you feel to know you can accomplish things without giving up. Then, do a special "celebration dance" and give each other a hug, celebrating how strong your "team" is. Use this experience the next school morning to explain that every person faces hills each day. Some days there are big hills, sometimes there are only little bumps along the way. No matter what, you will always be ready to make the journey with her. Reassure her that her teacher will take your place at school -- if she needs help climbing a "hill" at school, let her teacher (or a friend) know she needs a hand. This can be the foundation for a daily good-bye ritual -- each morning you can hold her hand, give her a hug, and comment on how big and strong she seems today. Then, bend and straighten your legs, saying "I'm ready to climb my hills today.....how 'bout you?" Then when she gets out of school in the afternoon, you can do your special "celebration dance" together, to commemorate another hill climbed.

I hope this has helped. Don't fret too much -- your daughter just needs time to get used to the new situation, and regain the confidence she had acquired with her past school experiences. All will be fine, in time.

Wishing you well,
S.

1 mom found this helpful

You might have to just tough it out. She might be picking up on some of your anxiety. I am suprised the teachers had you come get her. That shows them (child)that the tantrums and crying pays off. I would explain to her that you love her and you're excited for her to go to school and will pick her up after school is over, but will not get her before that, so there is not need to get upset. Explain that it's not fair to the other kids because the teacher has to spend extra time with her. Which might be another reason she is doing that. Kindergarden gets more structured and they aren't as babied as pre-school kids are so she might be missing the contant hugs and kisses that the pre-school teachers showered her with. It starts being a little more work. I would definately sit down with the teachers and come up with a game plan. You know your child best!
Good Luck!

1 mom found this helpful

since you are a stay at home mother, why don't you volunteer at her school. every school welcomes parents to become more involved in their childrens lives......... i'm sure they have something for you to do. then she won't feel like she does. you will be there at her school and it will also let her know that its okay to be there cause you are there as well.

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Have you considered homeschooling her for a year or two? I'm homeschooling my 6 year old and it's wonderful. I also homeschooled my 3 oldest daughters for many years. It's not as difficult as you think and it absolutely does not make them backward children. All my girls were popular in school when they went, but not so popular that they ran with a snobby crowd either. They each have received good marks in school and 2 have graduated from highschool with honors. My oldest 2 are in college now and working full-time to get through.

Your little girl isn't ready. There is nothing wrong with that and you are a stay at home mom. Can you think of any reason not to do this?

S.

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HI M., since she has been to preschool 2 yrs, I don't think its the issue of being away from you. School is more structured, even kindergarten. remind her that her other siblings are going to school and everything will be ok. could there be an issue with the other children in her class or her teacher? something is bothering her and until she is at ease with the situation, she will probably feel anxious.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi M.!

I too have a son in Kindergarten. He had the same issue in Preschool. The teacher and I almost decided to pull him out thinking he just wasn't ready. But, I just couldn't give up on him because I knew he was ready. I gave him a special pin to wear everyday. He loves our German Shepherd dogs, so I bought him a pin of a German Shepherd, he opened it like a gift and I told him that it was something very special for a big boy to wear. I kissed the pin and said, "wear this everyday to school and when you start feeling sad, rub it and think of the special kiss I gave to you." I said, "That kiss will make you strong because nobody has a special pin like this!"

It worked! He wore that pin every single day and I told the teacher about it so she could remind him what to do when he started to feel sad. He eventually felt comfortable putting the pen on his book bag instead of on his shirt. Now he is in kindergarten all day and hasn't had any problems. He wore his pin the first day...after that...he put it in his drawer.

Good luck...
T. :O)

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A friend of mine had a problem similar. She pulled her daughter out for the year and started again the next year. Went much better and her daughter is now in second grade and loves school. She just wasn't ready.

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All you have to do is look her in the eye and say, "Mommy loves you very very much. Everybody goes to kindergarten sometime, I did! Now you are getting to be a big girl and you loved preschool, remember? I have to go to work, you know that, and this is what you have to do. It is going to be just fine. " And then give her a big mommy hug and forget it, drop her off kiss her good bye, remind her you will be back to pick her up later and that's it. Ignore the tantrums and the crying and it will pass with your support.

1 mom found this helpful

If you are a SAHM and your daughter doesn't want to leave you because she loves her mommy, then why are you forcing her to go? Legally she can stay at home until she is 6 or 7 in the state of Missouri. Better yet, you could home school like I am and enjoy all of your children while being at home. No one will ever care for them as much as you. And when they are all grown up and have families of their own, you will be glad you made the right decisions. I have a 9yr old son, 6,2, and 7 week old daughters! Next time you send her to school and she is crying out for you, I hope you remember that their ARE other options! Good luck and bless you and your family!
S. in Independence

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Hi M.,

Many of us know how you feel. I had the same problem with one of my son's when he started his first year of preschool. Unfortunately, you just have to let this run its course. Your daughter is having some transition problems, but it will change. Maybe she is sensing your discomfort and thinks she can possibly win you over in letting her stay home.

Sometimes I tend to think that some of us parents do so much with our children that they'd prefer to stay home with us to do more fun things instead of needing to stay on a regimine at school. This can be good and bad. Good because we are being attentive parents, but bad because children need to be bored at home sometimes. It makes them more imaginative, and it gives them something to look forward to by going to school. I wish there were an easy way to have a good balance that children understand.

My son is in full-day Kindergarten (because that's what's in our school district), and there are many times he doesn't want to go to school the next day. He'd rather stay home to be with me, watch cartoons, and play with his toys, etc... I have explained to him that he goes to school to learn and become smart, and that he also gets to do a lot of fun things at school too. I also tell him that many kids around the world don't get to go to school and they want to, so he's a very lucky boy...BUT, none of this phases him. He still wants to stay home. The only option I have is to explain to him that once children turn five years old it's the law that they go to school, and that we could get in trouble if he doesn't. He's still not happy with this answer, but at least he stops asking me, "why he can't stay home?"

Just hang in there, because you know your daughter has to go, and showing any hesitation and sad feelings towards taking her there will prolong the suffering for you both. Continue to take her to school on a positive note.

Good luck to you!

1 mom found this helpful

This reminds me a little of my situation when my now 12 year old started kindergarten. He was in daycare always and had no problems. He was excited about kindergarten because he wanted to ride the bus and loved the first couple days until he realized that it was "hard work". (i.e. not all play time)After that for a couple weeks (it's hard to remember plus we had a 4 week old baby at the time)he cried every day before we had to "push" him on the bus. I would suggest a meeting with the teacher without your daughter to discuss the situation. Maybe also a brief meeting with the teacher and your daughter would be helpful so that your daughter can see you both as "team" both caring about her and loving her and only wanting the best for her. I remember my sons teacher telling me later that sometimes during the day she would just find him crying and she would just hug him. She'd just ask him if he needed a hug. I hope that a loving touch from the teacher will help with her transition. You've gotten some great responses. I hope you find something that works for you.

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Since your daughter was in Pre-K and fine, I would ask if she could be moved to another teacher's room. Is the teacher kind and cooperative when she calls for you to pick your daughter up? Maybe it is another child bullying your child-yes, it happens even in Kindergarten. What's the name of your daughters school? Maybe the school councelor would talk to her and see if she can figure out what is wrong.

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M., I have had the same problem this year. I am a SAHM also. My son didn't ever go to preschool because we moved alot the first few years of my son's life due to my husband's job. Anyway, I thought he would have a hard time with Kindergarten, fortunately he did fantastic.
Then we moved back to the Tulsa area for good. The first week of first grade was great. Then he came home one day and started saying he missed me so much and the day after he said that crying commenced every night and every morning. That was last friday.
He had a number of reasons why he doesn't like his new school. All of them valid but not bad. It is just different here. So when he went to the office sobbing uncontrollably they called me, I heard my voice and was much better.
I had him talk to the school counselor and that helped to pinpoint the different concerns he had that were causing him some stress.
I have a 22 month old also and my husband works alot so I don't always have time to spend with just him. But we made time. That helped alot. Also, I gave him a picture of us and we do the kissing hand every morning. I don't know if you're aware of this book, but it is fabulous. Ask your child's teacher about it if you don't know.
The bottom line for his anxiety is it just the feelings he is having right now and I know he work through it. He is already doing better. I know there may be set backs for a little while longer but he knows he has to go to school and we will all get through this together.
Children are often insecure just like adults are and I know it is not abnormal behavior. Just a little bump in the road, as emotionally exhausting as it may be.
I would just give it time with your little one and if continues then you may have to dig a little deeper to find the problem, but you will find it. It could be anything, from just the way she feels to she just doesn't click with the teacher.
I hope it get's better. I know how hard it is to send them to school with them hurting.

1 mom found this helpful

If she went through 2 years of preschool with no problem I'd wonder if something isn't going on at school. Are there any kids in her class that were with her in preschool? Maybe you can ask their parents how their kids are doing. You never know there may be a bully in her class. Kids are very hesitant even in KDG to tell parents or teachers about bullies (you know the whole rules of the playground thing)

1 mom found this helpful

I am kind of going through the same thing my daughter just turned 3 and is starting school next year. I am preparing her by getting her a bookbag and all the school supplies and everyday we play school. I act like the teacher and we play games we go through the abc and 123. It seems to help ease her into school because at first she didnt want to and then i enrolled her into a play group at the school so she gets the feel of the school rooms. I hope that i have helped

sky

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