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My 4 Year Old Having Problems Adjusting to Preschool

My son started preschool in September, right before his 4th birthday. He turned 4 in October. The first day of school he cried so much that the school called me and told me to come down to stay with him. For the past 2 months I have had to stay with him in school. 2 weeks ago I left him for the first time. He cried when I left but the teacher said he was ok. Now this week he cried when I dropped him off again. Only this week the teacher said he wouldnt eat and he sat on the floor by himself in the gym while the other kids played. I am a stay at home mom and my husband and I dont go out much. So really all he knows is us. He is fine academically but socially hes very immature. We dont know many people in our neighborhood so he doesnt have any friends that we can have playdates with. He goes on Tuesdays from ###-###-####. I know he should go more than 1 day but it was all we could afford. I dont know what to do. Should I pull him out of pre-k? Should I keep him in and just make him repeat it next year or push him through to Kindergarten? I dont want him making himself sick but at the same time he eventually has to be away from mommy. Does anyone have any suggestions?

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I agree that the teachers should have let him cry it out from day 1. He might have adjusted better. The probem is they're not certified teachers. They're volunteers. So they probably dont want to be bothered. The main teacher told me to have him tested and maybe home school him. She really doesn't want to be bothered. I have signed him up for some programs at the local library. I would stay with him but at least he would interact with other children. We also made a playdate for him. I told my husband we need to leave him with our parents for awhile wihtout us also. I love the fact that my son loves me so much he doesn't want to be without me but I also know its a must for his social development. The school doesn't even push him to interact. They ask him once and if he doesn't answer they just leave him. I understand there are other children but something has to be done. I will update you guys on his progress. Thanks you so much for all your responses. As you can see I'm at the end of my rope so thank you so much.

You know what I also dont agree with. Before he goes to school I try talking to him about the other kids and explain whats going to happen at school. I also tell him I have to leave but I will always be there for him when he gets out. The teachers told me not to tell him just to sneak out when he's not looking. I dont agree with this. He's really never gonna let me out of his sight becaushe's gonna feel as soon as he looks the other way Im going to run away.Its just hard to make playdates bc all thekids knwo each other and any of my frineds that have kids they are all infants. My daughter is 20 months old and she cant wait to be by herself. The first day we took my son to school she was crying because she wanted to stay and color. But also you learn with the second child. We didnt baby her as much and we left her with people right from the beginning. Everyone says give it time. I just hope it does get better.

I have asked him why he doesnt like school. He said hes scared and misses mommy. Then his eyes well up. I dont think the teachers are really doing enough because they dont want to be botheres. They really dont even talk to me after school. They just say he had a bad day didnt eat or play with kids. Then they walk away. This is all coming from the teachers helper. The teahcer hasnt said 1 word to me about it. I think we're going to let him stick it out and if need be let him repeat prek next year.

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I work in a preschool and have seen every child have a tough time in the early stages. Eventually they all come around, some just take longer than others. I have seen a child cry almost the entire first week he started. Now he cries when he has days off.

I can sympathize with how trying this situation is for you. My instinct (as an educator) is to give him more time to get in the swing of things on his own. After all, he needs to socialize. What are his teachers recommending? If nothing changes in a few more weeks, why not look for a really good child psychologist.

Hi K.
My 3 year old had trouble adjusting to his first year of preschool too. THe teachers at my school always want the parent to leave--I have never been called back in or told to stay with him, and I think that is a good idea. The more you go in and stay with him, he won't get used to you being gone (and realize you'll be back to get him at the same time each time). I would try to get him in 2 days a week even if you have to cut back on something else to afford it--he'll get used to it quicker. And drop him off with a cheerful smile and goodbye even if he is crying, and tell him you will see him a little later. Then go and don't look back. After a few weeks of this routine he will hopefully be much better. Good luck!

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Poor little guy! This whole process must be so overwhelming for him.

Did you say for the past 2 MONTHS you had to stay with him in school?? Oh no. Please tell me that is a typo. Something is very wrong. When he sat on the floor alone, was he invited to play by the staff? Did they do anything at all? Frankly, I am not happy with the fact that they asked you to come in to stay with him. What if you cannot not come in? What would they do? It almost sounds like your son is being treated like a hopeless case - we can't handle him, he needs his mother! I am very, very suspicous of this place. A day care/school is supposed to help your child adjust to its environment without you.

As a mom who has been through some less than pleasant experiences with day care, I say, first, scrutinize this school. Not all places are able to accomodate children with different personalities and needs. Some kids adjust fine, others are slow to warm up, like my son is, and your day care needs to recognize and respect such differences. In my experience, I encountered some providers who applied a one-size-fits-all approach, just letting the slow to warm up kids deal with their stress alone rather than providing gentle encouragement and a few extra hugs and kisses. So, that said, I would discuss your concerns with the staff and ask specifically what THEY are doing to handle this situation with your son. Does the staff have concrete ideas on how to handle your son's upset behavior? What have they done in the past with other children who were like your son? Ask lots of questions. I would also drop in, unexpectedly, and see what's going on. Finally, I would spend several hours with your son at the school, at a time when you are usually not there, and see how your son's upset behavior is being handled.

If you find nothing of concern (I doubt this), then I would pull him and have him attend next year. There's a good possibility that he may mature a lot in a year, and therefore be better able to handle the school environment.

I see where you are going with the socialization thing. He does not seem to be around other children much. But that does not justify, IMO, this school behavior. Because you say he is normal academically, right? So I am assuming he is bright and developmentally normal in every way. He should be able to adjust to a new environment just fine. He may be a little slower than others to do it, but 2 MONTHS? Sorry, but no.

My mom had always told me that the right place for your child is one where he happily separates from you at the start of the day. She was right. After three centers, I finally found a place where he is truly content, and I see it in his attitude daily. His old day care repeatedly told me that he just didn't like to play with anyone - he was a "loner." That just wasn't true. Now that he is in the right environment, he is blossoming, and now I am told he is funny and bright, and sings shamelessly out of tune during music time. This is the same child I see at home. This is how it should be when you separate from your child.

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Hi K.,

As an owner of a preschool I can tell you that going one day a week is going to make the adjustment period much more difficult. I can understand that financially you can not afford more but I can almost guarantee you that is a part of the problem. Is there any other schools in your area that are more reasonable so he can go more often. I also do not think that having you remain in the class is a good idea. I usually have children visit my center for a half hour a day for about a week so they can adjust and most times I have to encourage parents to just observe them but leave the room. When parents stay children will not interact they will just cling to their parents more. I worry about you taking him out at this point and leaving him home unless you get him involved in other activities which expose him to children. I know the local library will usually do story time that is of no cost to you. I also think you are right on target to worry about him adjusting to Kindergarten if he is this attached. If there is any way you can afford to add more days and for a few weeks just have him stay for a half hour and then come back eventually he should adjust and like school. I must be honest I have had children who cry but I have never asked a parent to stay or come and pick up their child. I am concerned about how comfortable the staff is trying to make your son, and also how much effort they are putting into helping him adjust. I will personally shadow a child who is crying to help out my staff and give the child one on one attention. It really breaks my heart that a teacher would tell a mom that her son sat alone and played with no one. It is her job to at least try and help him to engage and make him feel safe. It really disturbs me when I hear things like this. I am always honest with parents and tell them if their children cry, however I will always try to give them support and reassure them that my staff and I will do all we can to help their child transition as easy as possible. I am wondering if it is just because he only attends one day that there isn't enough interest on their part. I think I would look for another center and this time take him with you make him a part of the decision. Basically you know your child best and if he seems traumatized by preschool then do what your heart tells you. I would however try to socialize him as much as you can so he will be less shy when he is away from you in the future. Good luck!

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Hi K.
What a sad scenario!!! I am so sorry, and wish you had written sooner. Some kids are not ready for preschool at 4 years old. I will say out front that I don't think kids need preschool. His lack of adjustment has probably made you more sad as the year has gone on and that always shows on Mom's faces. Just a guess, but he is probably picking up on that emotion as well as not being ready for whatever reason. No friends there can be a big reason. Some parents think their children will make friends in preschool, but if the group is kids who know each other it is hard for the new kid on the block. Did the teacher ever tell you to bring him in early so that the group descends on him as opposed to him descending on the group? Sometimes that helps because the group forms around him. It is too late for that now.
The teacher did you no favor by having you come and stay. As a preschool teacher for many years, she would have been better to say to you--- leave and come back in 5 minutes tell him his school was over for the day. The next week when you bring him tell him you will be doing something he hates doing(grocery shopping, cleaning house whatever) then pick him up within the hour. Building to the two hour stay. Then make sure that the teacher is saying "Mommy be right back, Mommy loves you" You saying Mommy loves you and Mommy thinks you will have more fun with the kids than going grocery shopping. Pick him up at the end of shopping and have him help you bring the groceries in the house always making this hard work and saying how much more fun he would have at school. I have told parents to use this tactic before with 3 year olds, sometimes it works; but some 3's just are not emotionally ready to leave, and some mom's are not emotionally ready to leave them. Since we are so far into the year, it is my suggestion that you pull him out and wait til fall, if that means holding him back a year because of when your school district cut off date is, I am guessing that would be the best for his emotional well being. Does that mean you cannot do preschool? absolutely not! Try setting up a preschool time at home, which you may already be doing, but call it preschool and color, puzzles, playdough or anything else that you saw they were doing at preschool, so he sees he can do it. Of course saying what a big boy he is getting to be able to do whatever he did.
Just some thoughts
God bless your decision
K. SAHM married 39 years --- adult children 38,coach; 33,lawyer; and twins 19 in college after homeschooling.

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Dear K.,
I briefly scrolled through some of the responses you received and, frankly, I couldn't believe some of them. Usually, I find the responses in general to be more attentive to how the child is feeling than I believe a majority of these ones were. I don't normally reply, but in this case I thought you may be interested in my experience.
First, I am a Grandmother who has custody of my just turned 6 (11/11 birthday)Grandson. I have had custody of him since he was just two years old. I had been sending him to a sitter since he was about 1 and a half as his parents were not taking care of him and they all lived at my house -I have a full time job. He loved the sitter and liked being there. Then I started sending him in Sept. (two years ago) to 3yr. old prescool at a local church when he was actually going to be turning 4 in Nov. He went there 2 hrs. a day, 2 days a week and then to the sitters till I would get out of work. The next year (last year) he was old enough in New York to attend kindergarten. The bus would pick him up in front of the house at 7:25 am and he would be in school every day of the week all day (dismissal at 2:40)and he would get dropped back off about 3:15. That would work very well for me as I wouldn't have to pay for school or the the sitter and I wouldn't have to leave work and drive him to and from preschool. Regardless, I didn't feel he was ready to spend a whole day 5 days a week in the kindergarten setting with no nap, etc.
Since I was questioning his readiness, I began to ask many different people who had experience on this what they felt or thought. I asked teachers, the daycare provider, co-workers, friends, and the mother of my niece (who sent her to kindergarten early because she was academically very bright). 100% said they felt it was better to hold a child back if they weren't quite ready and especially with boys. I was told that boys mature later than girls (which I knew) and that it would make the difference between the little guy struggling to keep up or not.
Needless to say, I kept him back and sent him to 4 yr. old preschool 3 days a week (M,W,F) instead. As a bonus there, they started offering extended day care so I didn't have to leave work in the middle of the day to pick him up and deliver him to the sitters.
My point is, why make your child overly upset? Start doing some of the things mentioned to get him used to having extended family and non-family interface and don't push the "he has to do it sometime" scenario. He's only going to be this small a little bit longer and before you know it he'll want to be off with his friends and you'll be missing the closeness. Who knows what kind of underlying problems he might have as a result of being scared and traumatized when you leave him. Try to imagine if you were taken by the person you trust the most to somewhere you didn't know and left with people you didn't know who want you to do things that are strange to you - How would you feel??
My Grandson is attending kindergarten this year and is having no social or apptitude problems and so I believe I made the right choice for him. Please consider easing your son in to the school situation after he has learned to feel more secure without you. Thanks for reading.

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I agree with what Diane said, as a preschool owner, I think there are several things that have gone wrong. One day is tough. I always tell parents I'm not in it to make a million dollars...I love what I do...that said, one day a week is tough because by the time the next week rolls around, they've forgotten the routine, the kids, the atmosphere etc and it makes it almost like the first day all over again. Have you checked for UPK in the area. I know Deer Park, Babylon and Dix Hills have some so they may in your area.

While I realize parents don't want to leave their kids crying, it is heartbreaking, it is often the best thing you can do in the long run. When a parent is there the child doesn't want to interact with the other children because he has the comfort of having mommy. We've had some really tough cases...some crying all 3 hrs (2 yr olds) and tried different approaches and in the end the mom reassuring them, spending a couple of extra minutes making sure they are settled and then leaving was the best. We have some moms who will come back early and spend about 10-15 minutes there so the child will see they came back and mommy likes school too, but then we take it down to 10 mins, 5 mins and coming regular time. It's tough on staff having a child crying all the time too. It's heartbreaking for them too and makes it hard to help other children, especially in bigger classes. I think having you there may have made it easier for them but not easier for your son.

You are no doubt the center of his world and he finds it difficult to be away from you.
It's a new place, with new kids. A new routine and expectations.

I would not pull him out. I would try sending him and leaving him there. Yes, he will cry. Spend lots of time on the way reassuring him and telling him how much fun he will have. Talk positively and try not to get upset as he will sense it. Try this for a few weeks and see how it goes. It's like starting new because you have been there all this time with him and he is expecting school to be school with mommy. If this doesn't work then pulling him may be the answer but I would leave it as a last resort.

NY state has a Dec cut off but most other states have a Sept cut off. I firmly believe a child should be 5 before entering kindy. I do it with my own children. The differences in a 4 and 5 year old are amazing. I would hold him back next year if it were me and try adding a day or two if possible so he can have more time in the center.

Good luck! I hope it works out for you guys!

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I agree with all the previous posters that two months was too long for you to be there with him, one day a week at school is probably not helping, and the preschool does not seem to be doing enough and therefore this place may not be right for your son. I just want to urge you (as an elementary school teacher) to observe how his social development and separation issues evolve this year because you DO NOT have to send him to kindergarten when he is 4 turning 5. You can wait until he is 5 turning 6. I would be starting to think along these lines if it was my child. I would research my options for getting him involved in a (preferably daily or 4-day a week) pre-K next year and if he blossoms in the spring, you could abandon the idea and send him to K. However being one of the oldest, most mature children in his grade level is a gift that parents so often do not choose to give their children.

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He'll adjust when he's in K because it will be every day and longer than 2 hours.

So right now, do what feels right to you. I think if he was in pre-k 3 or more days, or for one full day, he would adjust fine (it might take awhile), he's not adjusting now because he's barely there long enough to get over the newness when he gets dropped off.

Since he is only there 2 hours, it's barely enough time to even give you a break, I would probably pull him out since having him go more days is not an option. I don't think you need to worry about keeping him out of K next year, I think he will adjust to the routine, it will be a longer day and every day, so while it may take a few days to a week to adjust, he should be fine. In the meantime, maybe there is a Gymboree or other program near you that has "mommy & me" classes, something where he can play with other kids, but you are present, I'm not sure what age these classes go up to, you want something where he can play with other kids, not just parallel play, or take him regularly to a playground, maybe you'll meet another mom willing to have a play date. Good luck!

Hi K.: try this website. Its a group for stay at home moms. They may have a group near you.

My dau cried every day in preschool but you have to keep leaving him and let him cry its for his own good i know it tears your heart out. In NY cert pre K is free at certain places where do you live?

Hi K.,

Two months is too long of an adjustment. If he can't handle one day a week of school now, I seriously doubt he'll be able to manage kindergarten next year. Sending him one day a week is probably doing more harm than good. Find something cheaper. One day a week of preschool isn't doing anything for him. He is never adjusting to the routine because he goes once and then has six days off. My daughter did preschool only the one year, but I sent her 5 afternoons a week, my son went 2 a.m's a week at 3 years old, and 3 a.m.'s a week at 4. A child who is still crying 3 months later and if 4 years old has me concerned.
I think you need to work on the independence and finding time where he can be away from mom and dad. If he has tremendous anxiety over this, I would discuss with the pediatrician.
Even if he is "fine" academically, if he cannot be away from you, kindergarten will not go well. I will tell you that I work in a public elementary school and teachers have NO time to comfort crying kids, they cry alone.
Is this your only child? If so, it's worth it to get a part time job in order to just pay for more days of preschool this year.
Also, look into free activities in your community, story and craft times, etc at your library and community center. Did I mention FREE?
Good luck

Hi K..
My hear broke for your little boy. My son is turning 4 this week. He doesn't go to pre-school because I am currently homeschooling, but he was very clingy at the beginning of this year. I agree with a lot of the postings that it probably is just not enough time for him to get adjusted so instead of it helping him by going to school such a short time, it's just torturing him. Poor little guy.
Since you are a stay at home mom, I would suggest pulling him out this year. There are so many activities you could do with him. You mentioned that you and your husband don't get out much, but does that mean that your son doesn't have many friends either? Even play dates with you around?? Others have mentioned the library and that is a great place. There are so many opportunities at a library. I really urge you to check them out because THEY ARE FREE!!! Our library has story time, and craft time and music time. And at that age there are quite a few kids that go and are pretty consistent at going there.
Another thing is even if you wanted to, for this year, you could get involved in a homeschool group. My kids go to a "co-op" where all the parents help in some way. I am not with my kids that day, they are in their own classes, but they have stuff for pre-K and the cost is SO MINIMAL...just for supplies. I was really worried about my little guy because I thought he'd freak out, but he really loves it. He has a show and tell class, then one called Discovery zone where he does crafts, play-doh, etc...then he has a movie time. He's with the same kids every week and just loves it. If you want more info, send me a message...I don't know where you live, but I could introduce you to that if you'd like.
All that to say, maybe you should focus the rest of this school year on getting him more confident through socializing with other kids with you around and then hopefully he'll be ready for kindergarten by Sept.

I think the school made a mistake by having you come stay with him. With the holidays coming up, I assume there will be a break of a week or so without school. Maybe you could meet with one of his classmates for something to eat, a playdate, or even just a walk in the mall during the break. I'd let him know daily that he's going to see this other child again in Jnuary at school. It's tough when the other kids know each other, but if he makes that connection with even one other child, it will ease the anxiety. Then, in January, I'd drop him off for one hour the first day, and let him know that in advance. Then, the next week, drop him off and even if he cries, leave the building immediately. You can all after an hour and check to see how he's doing. Not giving in to the crying is very hard on the parent, it was hard on me, too, and almost all kids cry in that scenario, but the sooner you get past it, the better. Hope the ideas help.

Hi K.! I can sympathize with you!! As far as financially, I'd say k eep him in the one day. But get out in your neighborhood and introduce him to other kids to play with! go to your local playgrounds! Your local library should offer lots of preschool storytimes and craft times (they're free!!) and your local community center and recreation center should offer the same thing for a minimal fee!!! The more you expose him to kids his own age, the more you'll help him overcome his shyness!! Good luck!!!

Hi- it's so hard when they don't want to go. We held my daughter for social reasons with a November birthday and I have never regretted it, last year she would still cry and not know how to respond to kids but this year she marched on the bus confident and talks to everyone, best decision we ever made for her. My son is not so much a school lover but we will not be holding with a July birthday- he is not sensitive or shy just doesn't want to be there. You know your kids the best and you will get through it.

Sounds like you need to get out with your son. How
about the parks? Does he play with other children.
At 4 years old, he needs more than just you and Dad.
I would definitely try to find playgroups or just other
Moms who have children around his age. Socialization
is very important. Sometimes I think more important
than academics. You can be the smartest person in the
world, but if you cannot connect and interact with others
it does not mean a thing.

I think that one day a week is not enough and it's very confusing why, once a week, you drop him off and go away. There is no continuity. I'm surprised that they would even allow one day a week. Most programs have a two day minimum. I also think that it was a mistake to have you stay with him for two months!! One day, yes, but two months was way too long. Now that you've left, he's back to square 1.

Look into other schools to see if any are cheaper or will let you slide a bit - enrollment is down due to the economy. Perhaps a church-affiliated pre-school would be affordable.

I do think that you need to get out more and socialize your son. I agree that all libraries have wonderful programs. Start there. Also, go to Yahoo groups and see if there are mommy meet ups in your area. They are free to attend (maybe $5 to join the group).

And don’t pull him out. He obviously needs to be pushed a bit and you don’t want to be dealing with this when he goes to Kindergarten.

Good luck.

While my son is very socially used to be around a lot of children, we too kept him out of any daycare since we didn't need it. We decided to started him in preschool 3 days a week 8:30-3:00 a few months before he turned 4-which also coincided with us having a new baby and me having to return to work after maternity leave. While he cried daily, he was okay shortly after I left. This went on for months and only got better toward the end of the school year. Since he is a January birthday, we kept him in preschool this year again instead of going to kindergarten and repeating that. He is now the oldest in the class, takes pride in being the "smartest" in the class (according to him) and only gives me problems on the first day of his week-he goes Tues, Wed, Thurs.

I think the one day is very difficult for him to get used to at this point. But if it is the only thing you can afford, then there is no point in discussing going more. Maybe instead of preschool one day a week or possibly in addition to it, you could find an activity for him to do. Besides my regular job, my husband and I own a gymnastics school and we hear all the time how great the classes have been for the kids self-esteem, confidence and I can't tell you how many times a group of kids stay after class to play with each other. If gymnastics is not an option, maybe a music class or a day at the library once a week when they have group things going on.

I would also say since his birthday is in the later part of the year, unless he has a huge increase in his adjustment to preschool, I would definitely consider having him do preschool next year. This was a huge concern of mine. My son academically is very advanced and we were considering petitioning the public schools to let him in first grade a year early since he misses the cutoff by 5 days. But after talking to many parents who kept their children back one year and those who didn't but wished they had, we decided to not push him and so far it is definitely working in his favor.

I can sympathize with how trying this situation is for you. My instinct (as an educator) is to give him more time to get in the swing of things on his own. After all, he needs to socialize. What are his teachers recommending? If nothing changes in a few more weeks, why not look for a really good child psychologist.

The good news is that you are home and don't go out often so your son gets a lot of parent time... always a good thing. BUT, that may be what the problem is. You spend so much time with him that he isn't used to being with other kids. And going one day a week for 2 hours isn't really going to do the trick. It's not consistent enough. The other kids probably go every day or full days so they all know each other and then your son shows up for 2 hours a week, so your son might find it really hard to socialize with the other kids who all probably know each other well.

It's a catch-22. You should try to keep him in and get him used to being without you. BUT, you don't want to make school an upsetting thing for him because then he might be anxious to move onto kindergarten.

I would suggest putting him in for more days a week, but sounds like it's not financially feasible. Don't beat yourself up about that, though. Talk to the teacher and ask what he/she recommends. If you can't get him to preschool more often, could you find some friends for him where you could leave him for an hour playdate a few times a week (or at least let him play while you're in another area of the house)? You want to get him used to being in social settings without you.

It seem to me like you son will have to adjust to school sooner or later (pre-K or Kindergarten). I just read all the previous posts and I am still leaning toward my first instinct, that he needs some kind of preschool experience although possibly not at his current program. I have concerns that this program he is not getting encouragement from the teachers and he is not there often.

I was a shy, quiet child and never got to go to preschool (we moved mid year) so I had a rough year in Kindergarten (I sat in the corner a lot). I was the youngest, smallest kid in the class and the teacher didn't really get my personality. My sister was also born the same week I started school. I muddled through Kindergarten and first grade, though the first grade teacher was terrific, and then we moved. The new school really pressured my parents to put me back in first grade a second time. It turned out to be a good call. I always had friends and good grades after that. So repeating an early grade can be an unexpected advantage.

My son is close to your son's age (turning 4 in Feb)and we started him in preschool 3 half days a week in May. I also have an 11 month old so I wanted to wait a few months after the baby was born so he could adjust. It wasn't a smooth start and he cried some at first and complained about school for about 3 months. Then in September he moved up a class and got a great teacher (lots of experience and a very positive attitude). Now he likes school much better and we added an extra day. Not that things are perfect though--he is a bit wild and sometimes has trouble with disruptive behavior and fighting with the other kids.
What I am saying is that your son will eventually adjust to school but this program may not be a great fit for him. Maybe you can find a different preschool or at least other activities. In NJ many districts have public school pre-K. I take my kids to library story hour and playgroup and the YMCA has a lot of classes that are less expensive than the Gymboree type places. In the summer I took the kids to the park almost every day but that is harder in the winter.

HI K.,
Do I feel your pain! I also have a 4 year old who is having problems in pre-school. My daughter was excited to go to school and willingly went in for the first 6 weeks. Then it started...she didn't want to go she cried in the car, she cried on the way in, she cried in school. I kept making her go until she woke up crying that she didn't want to go. The funny thing is that I had her enrolled in a 3 year program, at a different school, only for the end of last year and she loved it. I had to switch schools and didn't think anything of it since she had such a great experience at the old school. Now, I pulled her out of the program she's currently in because in my gut I had to think that something wasn't right. I don't think that they were doing anything inappropriate at the new school I think it was a combination of things that just didn't work for my daughter. I think the program was boring, they worked out of workbooks alot, they didn't go outside. The class size was too big. Also, the parents were never made to feel welcome. There was always a lottery to choose what parents got to attend events instead of just inviting all the parents. So, now I'm in the midst of interviewing alot of schools to see what the right fit will be for my daughter and I can say that it doesn't surprise me that your son doesn't want to go to school. He feels safe and comfortable and happy at home. Pre-Schools seem to try to portray an image of a homey, fun atmosphere but they are still schools with rules and strangers. Also, they don't really do any academics in pre-school, unless you are in a really competitive private prep school. Also, it's not a requirement that you send your child to pre-school. It really isn't necessary. The kids also don't really have that much of a chance to socialize as their day is really structured. They may have a little free play, but you could take your child to a local park for that. The more I see of pre-schools the more I feel kids can get what they need at home and it really isn't a necessity. I wish you luck and hope that helps.
P.S. I also have an older son and have been down the pre-school road before and wish I knew then what I know now. I probably wouldn't have sent him either.
P.P.S. After all this I don't think I'm going to send my daughter to pre-school after all.

Its a tough one, that first separation. YES, keep him there if he is interacting with other kids and adults - that is what he needs. One trick is to offer a reward when you pick him up if he's had a good day. Let him know you'll have his favorite candy or you'll take him to his favorite playground so he has a reason to want to make it work. Rewards work well at this age and for boys.
As hard as it may be, do everything you can to get him at least one play date a week from now until he starts kindergarten. It may be the best thing you'll ever do for him. Kids aren't born knowing how to make friends and like us, they learn from trial and error! Friends are such and important social step; and the first relationship one outside the family. My own experience with my small son showed me that I was remiss in not working harder on the playdates. Kids don't just go outside and play with the neighbors anymore anywhere, not even here in suburban heaven where we live! Without play dates a child does not have the opportunity to learn how to make friends. And we all know it takes some time to get these skills, which will give him the confidence he needs to be successful in kindergarten which will in turn set the tone for most of his academic life!
As tough as it may seem for you, the mom, my suggestion is to get creative and work as hard as you can on this issue with your son. Ask at the preschool if there are any playgroups you can join with other mothers, start one yourself, or go to the next town if you have to! Take him to activities at the library, hang at the playground and cultivate friendships where ever you go as an example for him to follow! You will probably have to supply verbage for him: "Ask what his name is," or "Ask him if he wants to play with you on the swings" things like that are very helpful for these little guys. While you're at the library, ask about kid programs and find the parent book section to see if there's anything there that might give you some ideas!

I work in a preschool and have seen every child have a tough time in the early stages. Eventually they all come around, some just take longer than others. I have seen a child cry almost the entire first week he started. Now he cries when he has days off.

he needs playdates for socialization purposes as well as preschool. playdates where you leave him at the person's house and vice versa

He's going to have to get used to it sooner or later. If he's only going once a week, maybe that's the best way to gradually get him used to being without mommy and daddy. When you drop him off, talk about how much fun he's going to have playing and learning, and when you pick him up ask him what he did today (and if nothing, then ask what the other kids did) and exclaim over how much fun that sounds! Explain to him that he does have to go to school and that you will always be there for him when he comes home, so he doesn't feel like he's being abandoned. You could also do something special, just the two of you, after school, to make him look forward to Tuesdays. Maybe he could bring a special toy with him if it's allowed at school. That might make him feel a little more secure. In the end, it's just something that he'll have to get used to. Good luck.


Where are you located? I'm a stay at home mom with four year old twins. Our family is in the same boat as yours. Maybe be could get the kids together. I think you should keep him in, even if it the one day a week. I'm sort of in a panic that mine won't be adjusted for kindergarten next year. Anyway, we are in Morristown.

Good luck, I know it is hard.



Find a better preschool or some other "regular" activity that he can attend. You would be better-off with three activities that occur each week then something that is once a week and where they are definitely not prepared for a reaction that is very very normal.

If you can afford a three day a week preschool next year, then I would suggest holding him out of Kindergarten and getting him into a regular program. If you can't, please send him to school. The longer he stays home, the harder it will be to separate from you.

Will the preschool let you ease him into it by sending him for an hour for a week(or what ever you feel is right) and then gradually increasing the time? It would probably be best for him socially to stick it out. I know it must be hard as a mom but it's better to ease him in now than in Kindergarten. Does he tell you why he doesnt like it? Does he not feel comfortable, or does he miss you? Maybe it's not the right place for him. Do they try to encourage him to play with others or create opportunites for peer interaction? I would maybe ask how they have tried to get him involved nad maybe you can offer them some suggestions based on what has worked for you other times. Are there other kids who share the same interests? If so then the staff can say to your son or another child, "did you know Mike likes drawing just like you do? you both have that in common..." They should be helping you figure this out and CREATING opportunities for you son to feel comfortable. I would just talk to them and if you dont think he is adjusting b/c he doesnt have the opportunity to then try somewhere else. Good luck

Have you tried other outings like mommy and me? Many libraries also have programs where there is reading time in a group of children your son's age and they are free. I don't know where you live so I can't make any suggestions on free activities you can do. Perhaps if he has more interaction with children his age while he is with you, it won't be so traumatic for him when he is without you.

It may be he needs more than one day a week in pre-k to get used to it. When they are so entrenched in a particular routine and schedule, the one day a week shake up can be unnerving for him. Is there any financial assistance you can get or perhaps a lower cost program you can look into? I don't know if pulling him out would be the right thing to do because he needs to get used to the idea before kindergarten starts and I don't think they would let you stay with him then.

Hi K.
My 3 year old had trouble adjusting to his first year of preschool too. THe teachers at my school always want the parent to leave--I have never been called back in or told to stay with him, and I think that is a good idea. The more you go in and stay with him, he won't get used to you being gone (and realize you'll be back to get him at the same time each time). I would try to get him in 2 days a week even if you have to cut back on something else to afford it--he'll get used to it quicker. And drop him off with a cheerful smile and goodbye even if he is crying, and tell him you will see him a little later. Then go and don't look back. After a few weeks of this routine he will hopefully be much better. Good luck!

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