Kindergarten Having a Very Hard Time

Updated on August 25, 2010
C.S. asks from Gilbert, AZ
19 answers

Hi Mamas:
I really need some help/advice. My son is 5, he started full-day kinder on the 11th. He went to preschool last school season. He went 3hrs/4dys a week. He loved it. Since the 1st day of kinder he has told us how much he dislikes school, and he has said this everyday since. He states it's to long. We agree, but 2 1/2 hr of school isn't going to make going 1st grade any easier. He also states he gets scared, he's not making any friends. Then the big kicker was yesterday he told us the kids make fun of him because he crys for me at school. Today he refused to get on the bus with his sister, so he stayed home from school. We only talk about school in a positive manner, you'll have fun, make new friends & learn lots of cool stuff. We have even rewarded with toys everynight after the 1st 5 days of school. My son is very outgoing, smart, funny, etc.... But, he's just having such a hard time with adjusting to kinder. I know he's barely been in school a week, but it's been a LONG week!!!! If you have any storys, commets, suggestions--Please let me hear them. I would be so grateful.
Thanks, C.

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So What Happened?

Thank you to all that responded. Your advice was great!!!! It really helped ME relax! He is still complaining about going to school, but he goes. Yesterday, when he came home he was in a much better mood! Oh, I left the teacher an voice message and I also sent a note in his backpack. She did respond. She stated she would keep a closer eye on him & help him make more friends. If he still has problems after 6wks or so I think you will try another approach. Maybe 1/2 day, new teacher, etc..... Thank you all so much! ---C.

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answers from Phoenix on

Are you able to volunteer in his classroom at all? My son had a hard time with similar issues. When I started volunteering in his classroom, it really helped him a lot and the other kids seem to have more respect for him. I was also able to observe what was going on firsthand.

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answers from Phoenix on

All day school is a big transition. My daughter had a hard time with it. She was in 1/2 day kindergarten, so 1st grade was difficult because it was all-day. Making friends was difficult for them until 2nd grade. By then they recognized more kids and were more familiar with them. You may need to give him ideas on how to make friends when at recess, what to say. Tell him it's ok to walk up to a group of kids and play with them. Talk to the teacher to let her know what's going on. If kids are teasing him, the teacher need to know about that too. Let him know that other kids are in the same boat as him, but missing school is not an option. He can't make friends if he's not there. Maybe start a sticker chart. For everyday he doesn't cry at school, he gets a sticker.... Maybe pick him up from school if you can and see if other Kindergarten parents are there to meet to arrange a playdate. Good luck!

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answers from Austin on

This is normal. Do not freak out.

First of all you need to speak with the teacher.. Email and ask to meet with her privately.

Also remember that children internalize a lot. Saying kids laugh at him, may not be exactly what is happening. Not making ANY friends..

I also doubt that. I think I would have calmed him down and then driven him to school if he could not get on the bus. Keeping him home send him a signal that he can cry and refuse the bus and you will cave in. You need to let him know he is really a strong child and can be a little nervous about school, but we do not skip school.

Explain to him even the teachers and other kids are a little nervous each year when school starts, but they still go to school and find friends.

Maybe you could organize a kindergarten play date one Saturday morning or afternoon. Invite all of the kinder kids and offer to have water and lemonade for a 2 hour playdate on the school playground or a park. This is a good way for parents to meet each other and the kids to also get to know each other and play.

Our daughters kinder teacher told us a great thing.
She said "you believe 50% of what your child tells you about school and I will believe 50% of what they tell me about what goes on at home".

Our daughter had a hard time the first 2 weeks in 1st grade. When I asked the teacher she said our daughter was doing great at school. That she did have some friends and seemed fine..

Our daughter was just shy and there were not any children she knew in that classroom. It ended up being a great year for her.

I am sending you strength.

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answers from Honolulu on

1) This is common for this age and just starting Kinder.
My daughter was similar...
2) Is this a public or private school? My daughter's school is public for example, and for the Kinder kids they do this: at the beginning of school, ALL the Teachers' are extra observant for any Kinder kid that is having transition problems. IF a child is... then, there is a Counselor that will work with the child. My daughter had this. All it is, is a 1/2 hour session with the Counselor, for 1 month... they do "play" type counseling, letting the kid vent, to say their feelings, to feel 'safe' that the Counselor or SOMEONE is there to help them and that the child can go to this Counselor ANY time, for times like this. AND the child then has a "Buddy" to go to, for any reason/help. This approach, per my daughter's school, helps IMMENSELY.

2) Do not admonish him for his feelings. It is normal. A kid, NEEDS a place to 'vent' about his day for good or bad. That will form a LIFE LONG communication/relationship with your child as he gets older. Invaluable.

3) And any time a child is teased... TELL THE TEACHER. This is unacceptable. My daughter's Teachers, all of them, ALWAYS talks to their kids about proper behavior and "bullying." AND they will not/should not single out your kid.

4) Next, what the heck, does his Teacher DO when your child is crying/crying for you???? Because, THIS will impact how the other kids act toward him. If he is being teased on the bus... I would tell the Teacher. This is bullying.... and some kids even commit suicide over "teasing" and bullying. It is very real... and deeply affects a child. You as a parent, need to advocate/help your child.... in these times. Always.

He is already having a very negative experience at Kinder. That is sad. You need to address it with the Teacher.. ..and see what her attitude on it is. If you feel it is not appropriate, then well, that is unfortunate...
Does your son like his Teacher?

Sure it is transition issues, which is common in kids starting Kinder. But also, really 'hear' his concerns and see if his Teacher is good or not? Helpful/nurturing or not? Not all Teachers are Mary Poppins.

Sometimes it is just a maturity thing too.... is he really ready for Kinder?
And yes, it is a long day. But that is how elementary school is.
It is a mental and emotional adjustment... thus, toys or rewards or punishments will not work.

all the best,

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answers from Portland on

Quick, quick, quick, get yourself a copy of by Faber and Mazlish's book, How to Talk So Kids Will Listen, and Listen So Kids Will Talk. The methods they teach help tremendously with exactly this kind of problem. They'll teach you how to empathize with your son, let him talk through his emotional reactions, and leave lots of space for him to work on his own solutions.

One idea: after listening to him and asking him questions, pick out one aspect of his troubles and brainstorm a list of ideas about how to handle them. Write it all down, even the silliest and most unlikely solutions. Get your son involved in some of the ideas. (Giggle over the goofiest ones – in my experience this helps "loosen up" the process.) Then go through your list and pick out one or two ideas that meet everybody's needs and seems most workable. Once your son "owns" his own capacity to cope, he's more likely to make any plan work.

There are many, many expert ideas in this book; this is only one possible approach. Something else to keep in mind is that an additional year for a five-year-old is another 20% of his entire life. A great deal of maturation will happen during that time, and what seems like too much for him now, may not be a big deal to him next year. So requiring him to go a full day now may have no logical connection to making first grade easier, especially when viewed from a child's perspective.

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answers from Hartford on

:( I felt sad just reading this because I know how much this must hurt your heart for your little guy. I think most kids start a year like this, be it kindergarten or 1st grade. I am sure it has something to do with adjusting to the long day. Contact the teacher and share your concerns, I'm sure you won't be the only parent she hears from about the same thing. See if she can give you the names of any of the other shy boys in class and try to set up some play dates so your son can make a bond with a couple other kids. It will all work out. It is much harder on us then them.

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answers from San Francisco on

Is he a young five or an older five? Meaning emotionally, physically etc is he equal with the others? Did he just turn five or has he been five for awhile? What are his skills like? Does he recognize the alphabet, lower case and upper case out of order? Can he read some words or books? How high can he count?

It sounds like he is a young five.

Schools are very academic these days. Kindergarten is generally looking like first grade did many years ago.

There is also a six to eight week window of adjustment where children are exhausted and emotionally about school. He does sound extreme. If he is a young five both developmentally and by the calendar year, consider starting him again next year in K.

School is suppose to enjoyable. Children learn best when they are happy and feel comfortable.

Good luck...listen to your son and then decide what is best for him which of course will be completely different from what you needed to do with his sister.:)

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answers from Chicago on

The same thing happened to my daughter last year. She went from part-time preschool to full-time kindergarten and she was a young five when she started (July bday). For the first month she did not handle it well. She was acting out, having accidents at school, etc. I felt terrible for her, and wanted to pull her out so many times. But I didn't and am so glad we stuck with it. After about six weeks things clicked and she never looked back. Be encouraging and remember kids have a way of doing things on their own time. Set short-term goals for your son and celebrate at the end of each week. It's just a huge adjustment and it takes time. Good luck!

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answers from New York on

it will get better. my daughter cried a lot in kindergarten. well not every day but little things would set her off, and she didn't cry for me but just in general, about anything.
it wasn't easy for her to make friends, so i immediately started organizing playdates with kids form her class. now the entire summer when off school she got to hang out with her kinder friends. made a world of difference. her crying subdued towards the end. but i knew she was emotionally immature.
so my suggestion, is, wait. things will change, in meantime try to meet some of the moms so you can have them over with their kids to help your son develop friendships. having friends will be so much fun
also kindergarten in the beginning is very confusing. they go from being able to take a nap or rest time in pre-k to an all day thing with kindergarten. by october teacher will have so much fun things organized, parties, jammie days, then come t-giving, shows, plays etc. so hang in there.
i used to put a drawing each day on her lunch box. she knew how to read simple words so i would draw two girls and write mom loves YOU. she looked forward to opening her lunch box every time. the one day i forgot to do so, the teacher told me how sad she got.
so just do little things with/for him.
also if possible, you could go volunteer one day a week or every other week for recess. he will look forward to seeing you.
good luck

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answers from Flagstaff on

I'd befriend his teachers and see whats happening from their perspective. sometimes kids tend to exaggerate their emotions and how people are treating them. as parents we get into our mama bear roles when we hear our kids feeling sad and we want to solve their problems....ask the teachers for their suggestions on the matter, and i definitely wouldn't make it a habit of staying home from school because he doesn't want to go...
we all want our kids to be happy and its hard to watch them go through tough situations-yet it will help them grow and be able to deal with life as the same situation will most likely face them again in the future...

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answers from Saginaw on

I second trying to get him to meet friends/schedule playdates. My daughter was just like this for Preschool. It finally took one dad and his daughter to come up to her and say they would love it if she would come to their house for a playdate. (They didn't even ask for a specific date, just asked if someday she would like to) My daughter took this as an immediate friend and from that point on she was ok with school and even made more friends.
Thankfully, she is going to the same school with most of the same students and this girl that we ended up planning playdates with and have hung out with her and her family all summer is going to be in the same class as my daughter. I'm hoping this will make Kindergarten a smoother transition. But I am too worrying that all day Kindergarten might be too much on her...we shall see.

Good luck to you!

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answers from Philadelphia on

At the school district where my two older kids attend there is a no bully policy. Check with your school maybe they have a no bully policy at his school also.
That makes me so sad. I got picked on at school for years. Kids can be so mean.
Teach him quick comebacks. Teach him not to cry in public unless he is physically hurt. So the kids wont pick on him.
If you lived closer I would invite you guys over so he could play with my kids.
I will say a pray for you and your son.

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answers from Dallas on

Well, that was me. I did not want to go to Kindergarten, and I either missed or checked out early for almost 60 days of that year. However, I was extremely bright, and there was no reason to hold me back, and I am glad that they didn't! I ended up loving school by the end of the year and never stopped loving school!
The suggestion about classroom volunteering is a great idea! My daughters' school encourages parent involvement and parents eating lunch with their kids. If he knows you'll be coming at lunch time, then perhaps he will have less anxiety.
Also, set up a meeting with the teacher. Let her know what is going on and get her involved! I'm sure she has lots of experience with this.

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answers from Goldsboro on

I was not a Kindergarten fan either, and my mom worked at the school where I attended. I didn't see her much because she worked in the math lab with older kids.
I missed her and my dad terribly.
She taped a picture of the two of them inside my lunch box. That helped a bunch.
She also talked to the teacher and the teacher's aide, who would talk me through a "bad spell" and remind me that I was going to see my mom in just a few hours and wouldn't I like to play in the sand and water center?

I ended up LOVING school so much that I became a teacher and am now going to school to become a principal.

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answers from Washington DC on


Have you talked to his teacher? I would definitely use her as a resource - explain what he is expressing to you at home, and your concerns and see what she has to say about his behavior during the day. You might also see if she has noticed his relationship with other kids, or if there are other little boys who have similar interests/personalities, and then see if you can set up a playdate with one of those boys. Maybe if he has a go-to buddy, he'll feel more comfortable at school.

I'm sorry you are having this problem - I can imagine it must be very stressful to know that your child is unhappy, or worry that he is not adjusting, or is being teased. And about teasing - I would definitely mention that to the teacher so they can watch for it and correct it. I'm sure you've done lots of talking about the teasing - my daughter has come home a few times saying someone teased her, but it never really bothers her. I think part of that is from us teaching her to ignore teasers, and some is from a book we read called "Never Tease a Weasel." It doesn't deal directly with teasing in school or bullying, which is why I think it was so effective - it didn't hit so close to home, but had a good message.

I don't think one can ever come up with a good comeback line for every situation (believe me, I've tried a lot!), but if he has the sense that you've got his back, that you love him no matter what, and that you think he's the smartest, most wonderful kid on the planet - then he'll hopefully develop enough self confidence to deal with the many many bullies and teasers he encounters in life. Sadly, the world does not have a no-bullying policy!

As a last resort, especially if you don't get the response you hope for from the teacher, perhaps he could switch classes to a warmer teacher who will look out for him a little more.

Best of luck to you and your little guy.

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answers from Colorado Springs on

Can you homeschool him? Even if it is just for this year, it will give him time to mature a bit. He will thrive under your care. There is no reason you can't teach him what he needs to know. Homeschooled children often will have more confidence because they have been nurtured and loved all that time in a one-on-one situation. You would only need to spend a couple of hours at most each day actually doing school stuff because much of the time at school is wasted time (getting in line, walking somewhere as a group, waiting for everyone to catch up/get out their papers/books/pencils, etc. etc.) For my K students, we concentrate on learning to read, write neatly, and math. Basic skills that are necessary to go on from there. And, we read a lot together. Fun! And we play. :) Anyway, it's an idea.

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answers from Atlanta on

I have 3 boys oldest born in Aug 17, second born May 16, third born Sept 7.
My oldest did go to kindergarten on time as scheduled birthday a few weeks before cut off date on age. It was a nightmare his teacher needed to retire she was past her prime, he really wasn't ready for a full day and honestly boys mature a bit behind girls being smart has nothing to do with being mature.
To get to it, I went to two doctors with all the problems we started having him not wanting to talk, eat, crying, not wanting to go, his teacher not helping matters by yelling at him (yes I caught her) telling him he was a little dog and dogs sit by people's feet. The doctors said this in Ga by law at 6 yrs old either home school or some kind of school but pull him out let him get a bit more mature and be the big fish it's way easier to handle. So I did it it was December and after break i pulled him out. Oh, the school didn't want me to and didn't want to hear what I had to say about what I heard with a witness and saw.

He was never more happy he went back to prek 4 days a week the following year he went to a different school and he did just great. At his new school he had no memory of his bad on a daily basis of the old school, had a great loving, kind teacher. He is now because of leaving and we should have earlier (didn't trust my instict) in a target program in 4th grade reading way above average and able to handle situations way better for his age. All because I did what I did and should have sent him at 6 not 5 and then back tracked and did it.

My May baby was fine mature enough and can handle it. Except he's having some problems with reading but is getting help.

My Sept baby well I tried to get him into school early because of his birthday being 6 days past the cut off. No can do it didn't happen and it was best for him. He's mature for first grade and getting ready to turn 7. He's dealing with a bully situation right now and has handled it great because of his maturity level of almost being 7.

Trust me if he's unhappy now he will be next week, he may need to wait until he's 6. Harvard will still take him after High School (my doctor told me this) and he will be fine it doesn't mean you are not a good parent or he has a means like some children he may need to wait until next year and he will be fine. Rather then struggle since he has the rest of his life to have difficult situations to deal with maybe his start would be better if he was a bit more able to handle it.

My personal experience with my first child has helped the others but going to a doctor 2 of them mind you and their personal opinion after only being doctors for kids....was so greatly appreciated, they made what could have been a bad situation for years better by giving me their honest opinion and telling me it was ok to do so. I'm passing it on to you it's ok to pull him out doesn't mean he's a baby or whatever anyone wants to say it means you want him to have a better start next year so he can be the big fish and not get ate up by the entire system. Allow him to get strong and ready for it as age does this to all of us. Hopefully he will after his return if you take him out he will next year love school my son now does.

Sorry so long hope this helps and which ever you decide I wish you and him the best.

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answers from Phoenix on

Boys aren't ready as early, and full-day kindergarten can be a bit much. With our son, we are deliberately holding him back a year, so that he'll start when he's 6, and every teacher we've talked to applauds that idea. We'll also specifically be looking for a half-day program, not a full-day. Good luck!!!

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answers from Phoenix on

I'd try half-day. I was a young kindergartener, but I did fine in half day. The next year in first grade I cried every single day because it was so hard for me to be gone all day from my mom, so my mom put me back in kindergarten and I thrived (I ended up skipping a grade in junior high, so it all worked out). It is the best thing she ever did for me! He just may be too young for being gone all day. My son started half-day kinder this year and being gone only half day is a very good transition between preschool and being gone all day next year. Good luck!

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