3 Year Old Doesn't like Preschool

Updated on December 26, 2011
N.V. asks from Danvers, MA
14 answers

Sorry if this is long...

My son, born June 24, 2008 has been going to a lovely Catholic preschool, the school is pre-k-8th grade. The atmosphere at the school is warm and nurturing as well as having good academics. We also chose the school because we agreed to raise our children Catholic, even though I am not Catholic. We thought it would be easiest for everyone to have his religious education given right along with his regular schooling so it wouldn't have to be another activity to be scheduled in a hectic overscheduled world.

The class is large, 16 kids with 2 great, experienced teachers. The children are all a great bunch, there is only one boy who causes trouble and is mean and one girl who just doesn't listen so causes a little extra fuss.

The teacher thought my son had no abdominal muscles because he lays down all day. This is not the case and has been checked out, he is more the hyperactive type at home, climbing, jumping, riding tricycles, slides, trampoline, etc. I told her I thought he was overwhelmed and we agreed that he should repeat 3 year old preschool since he is a summer baby boy.

Now, he was home for a week with the flu and is recovered now and has another week off for Christmas break. He has been saying he doesn't want to go back to school and that he doesn't klike it. when asked may different questions about it he says he only likes the leggos and the cars.

what do I do? do I make him stay there til June? I have been having a coule of playdates with some othere kids to mae some friends, it hasn't seemed to help. How hard do I push him to stay and hope he likes it? I am open to changing schools if that's what is best for him I don't want him to be miserable for another almost 6 months and get a bad taste in his nouth about school.

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

So What Happened?

A little more info: I have observed the class twice, my son lays in the 'math' corner and slowly builds lego towers or a couple other games. At circle time he lays down while all other kids are sitting, he usually stares at the floor or the wall instead of the story book. He has known his alphabet since he was 2, he can count to 30 pretty regularly, he uses the potty completely independently (including wiping #2). This is a very play-based preschool, there are some 'requirements' like art or science activity, but all fun.

He does not interact with the other kids, he says there are a couple of kids he likes, but he does not talk or play with them, I am trying to have more play dates to help. He went to day care for about 6 months last years and LOVED it, this is why I sent him to preschool. He had an adjustment period, but always left me OK and then didn't want to leave the school at pick-up. There were only 6-8kids and they were very nurturing, held him, etc. I am considering going back there, he would be in a different room, but also small and 2 days 1/2 day. He can stay there til kindergarten and we can see how he does. The repeating is more for his social reasons than academic.. And as far as being with kids his age, there are so many summer babies being held back that he would either be 1 year younger or 1 year older than some of his classmatees, which would you want for your child?

Featured Answers



answers from Chicago on

my 3 yr old was having trouble too. big time (we switcjed) we talked to the teacher who are working hard at engaging her and including her and she is SO MUCH HAPPIER. and 16 is smaller end. her class is like 20 or so!

1 mom found this helpful

More Answers



answers from Tulsa on

Can he stay home and start again next year?
It won't hurt him a bit and you can find kids at the park, McDonalds, and your neighborhood.
Good luck.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

I would ask the teachers more about his behavior at school and more about what they see as his interaction with the other children. It is hard to guage a 3 year old's ability to make decisions for himself and harder still to judge his emotional state when he is just getting over being ill. I would hesitate to let him not go back at all you cannot tell what combination message he'd get in his head from being sick to never having to go back....

Talk to the school. Maybe he needs to repeat it, maybe he needs a smaller class for a year. Talk to his teachers. Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

Maybe he just wants to be home and be a little boy as long as he can. Some children like preschools and others aren't ready for it, in my opinion. There are many years of school ahead for him and I'd let him enjoy his time of freedom.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Austin on

At 3 most of his day should be playing. Individual play and group play. The rest comes along with activities.

He will learn his colors, learn to count, learn some songs, learn his manners, be potty trained, learn to share.. These are the main parts of what his day should be like.

If it is more academics with lots of sitting, that is too much for a typical 3 year old.

At our daughters preschool they spent at at least 2 hours of outside play in the morning and again in the afternoon. There was a craft time, a project time, inside play, lunch and nap with a story time. This was every day, weather permitting.

It was not till preschool that it had even a hint at any type of "paper work."

I am also going to guess he liked being home and being the single person to get a lot of attention. I do not think you are forcing him to go to daycare, I think instead he "gets to go and play with his friends and see his teachers."

Our daughter loved day care because she got to play. At home, she was stuck with boring mom that ran errands and did chores. All of the other kids in our neighborhood were in daycare also.

She could be clingy and a homebody after being ill, but once she got back to school, she adjusted again and loved it.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Louisville on

of course you make him go, if he can get away with that now he will do it over and over, stick with it. 3 is young tho is this a half day thing a few days a week if not look into that all day every day is too much for a kiddo taht young. in the mean time remind him every mornign about his friends and the fun things he does and of course be happy infront of him even tho its hard on him.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

all kids (at least mine and all kids i've known) "hate" school. my son fights EVERY morning to wake up and get dressed. you don't mention how he acts when you get there. is he playing with the kids contentedly? does he seem happy when you pick him up?

i feel like too much emphasis is being put on this. heck he might even feel pressure from you over it now that you're talking about making him "repeat" a year of preschool. but that is probably coming as much from the school as from you as parents.

i just don't get putting such pressure on preschool as a learning experience. he should be having fun and goofing off and shouldn't have to worry about whether he is "performing" up to standards.

our preschool is preschool/daycare and while for 2 hours a day they are doing "scholastic" things, for most of the day he is playing, learning social skills, how to take turns, etc. that is what preschool is about for me. my son is 5, late fall birthday so wasn't old enough to go to kindergarten.

i would not take him out of the school. if you trust the teachers and the atmosphere, why would changing schools make a difference? i think he will be fine. just keep taking him and be positive about it and play up the good points. if they have a show and tell day or special events (my son had about twenty the last couple weeks with the holidays) play those up. be positive and maybe it will rub off on him! :)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

I would say he should not repeat the 3 yr. old pre-school over. He is only 3 and once he turns 4 he still needs to be with kids his own age. He will continue to act like the age kids he is around. All his friends will move up and he will be devastated.

Then he can start kindergarten on time and be with kids his own age. He may not like these teachers, why put him through that another year?

I think that if you let him stay with his age group and he is far far far behind at the end of the pre-K class you might consider letting his do the pre-K class over. But I wouldn't even do that. I would put him in the right classes for the right age kids. It does not matter that his birthday is in June. I know one boy that had June birthdays that were reading in pre-school, right before entering the pre-k program. He just had that skill down.

Let him develop at his own rate and let him stay with his friends and in the same class as them. Give him a chance to catch up developmentally over the next 2 years. If he doesn't then he'll need some evaluations done to see if there are underlying issues. Sometimes there are processing issues that are fixed by seeing a developmental eye doc. They do exercises and use glasses that look like the ones from "National Treasure" with Nicholas Cage. It could also be some other issues like Dyslexia that may be causing some issues.

But holding him back and not seeing if time fixes it is not what I would do in any case. Keep him in school, just take him every day. He is remembering what it's like to stay at home all day and play with no sitting at the table focusing on school work, no circle time, no structure like the school. Keeping him home won't do anything for him academically. He'll even be more behind.



answers from Minneapolis on

If you can, I would send him back to the smaller, more part time preschool until kindergarten if he was thriving there. Is this current school full day, 5 days/week? That would be WAY too much preschool time, in my opinion. It sounds more suited to families that need full time daycare, rather than a good length of time many 3 year olds should be in "school." 3 can be a tough year. My oldest DD had a rough 3 year old preschool year. We did stick it out and her 4 year old year was outstanding. I credit an extra year of maturity and a very, very talented, dynamic, fun and loving 4 year old teacher. (Her preschool class was about 20 children with one main teacher and 2-3 assistants). A lot of 3 year olds aren't ready for the class participation yet. There is always the child who won't come to circle time. Some just aren't ready. Too shy, too busy, apprehensive about transitions. He is only 3. If he isn't joining class time at 5 or 6, that is one thing, but at 3, I would hope his teachers understand, gently invite and encourage, but don't have unrealistic expectations for him. That seems strange for them to comment on a concern about abdominal muscles. At this age, it should be very normal and just fine for him to just like the legos and the cars. He should be made to feel safe, secure and loved by his teachers, and at some point he will branch out to become more participatory and more social. I think it is normal for kids a little on the reluctant side to not want to go back to preschool after a long break, but I wouldn't let him drop preschool altogether. I would question if THIS school program is the right fit if it is too many days or hours in the week and/or if the teachers expectations for him are too high and you don't think the teachers have a loving, embracing attitude towards him.



answers from Boston on

There are actually kids who go to school for the first time in Kindergarten. The whole preschool experience is because mom needs some free time and kids can benefit from learning some social skills, but it is not required by law in any state. I almost burst out laughing when one preschool I toured talked about their "curriculum" but came to understand that they meant what would be in the dry and wet tactile tables (they hide things in sand or elbow macaroni etc, as well as things in a water table or even jello to play with but it teaches kids manipulation and predicting what they think they will find from touch), as well as 1 structured project per day (where everyone had to do the same thing but it was fun stuff like painting or gluing) as well as story time with a theme per week that also ran through the free play and art activities that were available. But it was heavily play oriented and filled with hugs from the teachers if they felt homesick or just tired, and lots of kids piled around the teachers lap on big pillows at story time. It was also just 2 half days a week. Only in pre-K (3 half days a week) did they start with tracing their name upon arrival and the last half of the year no more tracing but writing, and each week there was a "letter of the week" which was a big poster the teacher made and kids could help find words with that letter. My kids could not wait for the week with the letter of their name to be able to add it. The posters went up around the top edge of the room so by the end of the year the whole alphabet was up with pictures and words of things the kids chose so they could sound out the letters. I would indeed talk to the teacher more about what goes on in class and if it is too rigid for him, then move him. I also spent time in the class with each of my kids not just to help out but to help them transition. So before you switch, find out more. And let him know that this is supposed to be fun since mom will be cleaning house and cooking food and grocery shopping (or whatever he dislikes, taking long boring drives to loud uninteresting things) because he may just be worried about what he is "missing". But if all the talking and visiting school and helping out does not make him happier, he does not HAVE to go to preschool. Then there is the possibility that there is some kind of learning disability that is not evident but that he "feels", like my daughter's dyslexia which includes having a hard time writing anything, and she has told us since preschool that she hates "the work" which we never really understood until she was diagnosed with dyslexia (not until 3rd grade) so keep that in the back of your mind.



answers from New York on

16 kids is huge! He probably feel overwhelmed and therefore keeps to himself. Sounds like it is best to either change schools or keep him back. It's really important to have a good foundation at this age. My son's preschool has 7 kids and he loves it.



answers from Chicago on

We were having issues with my son in school. It got to the point that I requested he be moved to another class/teacher and it made such a difference (my son is an early summer baby so he's on the younger side too). It could be he doesn't mesh with the teachers or the other kids very well and at 3 it's more important that he has a good experience at school as opposed to sticking it out. If you can't' do a trial move to the other class then I'd pull him out if you don't think it's working. Also, my son only plays with a few of the things in the classroom so I wouldn't worry about him only liking the legos and cars. There's a lot to choose from and maybe he's just not ready to try the other stuff.



answers from Los Angeles on

Well, your post leaves out a few things that make it kind of hard to answer.

First, does he really just lie there all day not doing anything? Or is he lying down but playing with cars and legos while he does?

What does he do during group times (stories, singing, etc)? Is he attentive and listening? Does he sing along? Is he off to the side and not paying any attention or participating at all?

Does he ever bring home artwork or projects?

Is the classroom structured, so that he has to be doing certain things at certain times, or is he free to do whatever activity he wants at any time? What does he do during outside play time?

I think you should have a conference with the teacher and find out more about what he's doing on a daily basis. If possible, observe the class and see how he's interacting with others and what he does while he's at school.

I don't think having him repeat the same class next year is the right move. Either move him up to the 4 year old room or switch schools to find a better fit for him. I saw many of the boys in my son's class mature significantly from last year to this year (they are 4 now).

Finally, what is his mood like when you drop him off in the morning and when you pick him up after school? What does he say?



answers from Chicago on

Why would you have him repeat something he obviously doesn't like?

There is no need for preschool. It is a silly concept, if you ask me. Let kids play, and play without direction. It's good for developing the imagination, curiosity and interest. All these things are the corner of learning.

Take him out of school till next year, and then go back to the other place. Or skip it all together, find a playgroup, and play.

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions