My Boy Hates Kindergarten :(

Updated on September 12, 2012
A.S. asks from Verona, PA
10 answers

Hi...I need help! My son hates kindergarten and I am clueless what to do! This is the 3rd week and he's still crying when we drop him off each day. He says he hates school, it's too long, too much work, he hates eating lunch there, he misses daddy, etc. It is full day (8:30 - 3:05). He did preschool for 2 years, 2 days a week the first year and 3 days a week the second year, 2.5 hours each day with no problems and was home with my husband the rest of the time. I realize this is an enormous adjustment for him but shouldn't we be seeing some progress by now? At times he's been very anxious/upset even in the evenings and in the mornings about having to go to school, usually about some activity that was supposed to happen that day that he didn't quite seem to understand.

Initially he said he'd made some friends but now he says he has no friends. When I ask why he says it's not because the other kids exclude him, it's because he chooses not to play with them. Now...I've had several conversations with his teacher and the side and they paint a little different story. They say he does play with his friends and that he actively participates in class. They said he's very smart and has easily passed all the testing they've given him thus far. I just worry that he's not emotionally ready for full day. He's an only child. Just turned 5 at the end of June. I don't want to set a bad tone for school and have him hating it forever, but at the same time I don't want to pull him out and have him think that just because you don't like something and it's hard you get to leave.

We do have an option of putting him in a half day kindergarten at a private school (if it's not full) but my only concern thee is that he will be behind everyone else academically in first grade. Plus we'll be back to square one when first grade starts and he has to go full day. My last correspondence with his teacher had her telling me that she understood how hard it was for us to see him struggle like this but he's just taking a little longer to adjust. And that we may not think he's ready but he is. She said her daughter cried every day for the first half of the year in K. I've had many other parents and educators tell me to keep him in and he will come around.

I just don't know what to do. It's do heartbreaking hearing your 5 year old tell you he hates school and has no friends. Any advice????? (btw...homeschooling is not an option)

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So What Happened?

Wow, thanks everyone for all the responses and great advice! I'll be going over everything with my husband this evening. I knew Kinder would be a big change but I have to admit I didn't see this coming. Even though he's a tad on the shy, reticent side, he usually warms up to new situations fairly quickly and preschool was a breeze for him. We did make bedtime a bit earlier and I admit the past two mornings were better and he's been happier overall with a less negative attitude about school. Maybe he was just exhausted? His school does not do naps. Anyway...thanks again. You have all been very helpful and I greatly appreciate it!

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answers from San Francisco on

I personally think full day kindergarten is too much for most kids. I would not have wanted mine in full day. I think they need time to adjust to being in school and that's what kindergarten does in baby steps.

If it were me, I would look into the half-day private school. He will not be behind the rest of the kids when he goes to first grade, especially since the teacher has told you how bright he is and how is has passed all of their testing.

If you're really worried about it, you can ask dad to do some educational/kindergarten type of stuff with him in the afternoons.

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answers from Dallas on

I have taught over 10 yrs as a sub in the K-5 level.

This is a tough adjustment period and a lot of children go through it. It is a huge change for them. They are learning the ropes of being in school, on a schedule, new faces with children and teachers, and a lot of change.

Continue to send him and don't change anything. He will get adjusted and be just fine. Reassure him that you will be there after school, you love him and you are excited to hear about what he does today.

There are some parents who just cannot walk their children to the room due to the separation anxiety OR volunteer and help at lunch or in the K area due to the anxiety.

Don't specifically ask "how was your day" because you get some typical answers, such as "fine". Ask about the friends in the classroom, the teacher, the books they read, the library trip, music class, art and PE classes.

You should be aware of the curriculum so use that as a guide for questions to ask.

In 1st grade, where I am the most, On Mondays, we staple a sheet to the daily folder which has what we will be doing all week, including the Wednesday homework, spelling pattern for the week for prep on Friday spelling tests, and a spot for a parent signature (they are "rewarded" for being responsible to bring in the signed folder daily), and a spot for any quick teacher notes to parents. At the end of the day, we go around and stamp the specific day with a fun stamp or sticker so they show mom and dad the folder and get the signature.

Try to make it fun and adventure. He will adjust, just give it some time. You already know he is participating in class and doing well with testing.

Best wishes to you.

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answers from Charlotte on

You mentioned how smart he is. If that is so, I don't think I'd worry about him being behind in first grade just because of half-day kinder. One of my kids was in half-day and one was in full-day (we moved between the two). They both learned the same things. (We were lucky because the child who needed full day academically, got full day.)

Given a year of maturity, perhaps he wouldn't be going through the same thing in starting first grade. My bigger worry is that he won't have friends moving into first grade, and he would have to get to know all new friends

If you choose to leave him where he is, I would stop asking him about school so much and giving him attention for the crying. As hard as it is to watch it, pretend that it doesn't bother you. If you aren't paying attention to it, he'll eventually quit.

Take to heart from your teacher that he actually is playing with other kids and has friends. Because you ask him about this stuff, when he says no, that he doesn't have friends, you are giving him a reason to say it because he gets a lot of attention for it. So don't give him that attention.

I think also that if your husband could step back a little and get some playdates for him from his class so that it's not just him and his dad after school, it might also help.

Good luck!

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answers from Los Angeles on

I wish kindergarten were half day here. It is a very long day. If I were you, I probably would try to get him in to a half day kindergarten. A June birthday makes for a very young 5. At least he'll get used to being away from his dad every day. And then you might consider lengthening the time he's there by adding after school enrichment or whatever as the year goes on so that the transition to full day the next year won't be so difficult.

I doubt that he will be behind academically in first grade if he goes to a private kindergarten, and I don't think it's setting a bad example. He will still be going to kindergarten, just hopefully one that is a better fit. And he shouldn't be back to square one in first grade. He will be a year older, and hopefully more mature and emotionally equipped to deal with a full day of school. Also, you as the parents know that this is a potential issue, so you can lay a foundation to address it prior to his starting first grade.

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answers from Lansing on

My daughter is currently in 2nd grade and has never been a fan of school. She would tell me lots of the same things your son is telling you but when I went to the teacher they said she was doing great. I've also been able to secretly watch her at school and notice that she was interacting with other students. She was also coming home with good papers and I was also told great things at parent/teacher conferences.

She still comes home telling me how hard school is and how much work you have to do and all the rules you have to follow but she goes every day. Last night I asked what her favorite part about the day was and she said lunch. When I asked her least favorite part, she first said everything...but when I made her say something more specific she said "all the work". LOL

My other daughter (who is also in Kindergarten)...complete opposite. She gets excited about school, can't wait for weekends to end and loves homework. Tells me how much fun she has playing with everyone and so on.

I just personally feel there are some kids that enjoy school and some that don't.

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answers from Columbus on

Well, my first advice would be homeschooling, but since you said that's not an option, I would go for the half day Kindergarten. The extra year will give him time to mature and since he's so bright anyways, he'll be fine and won't be behind at all - the afternoons usually have naptime built in and snack anyways, so most K teachers I've talked to say the extra hours are more for parent's convenience than anything. Seriously, though, does crying every day for a half a year sound like a positive experience? Full day Kindergarten is ridiculous. Learning should be about curiosity, adventure, excitement, and play. They should come away from school with a great desire to know more and explore and with a happy heart that's eager to learn. If it's anything less than that, then you have an undesirable situation. Not that the class/teacher is bad - just not for him. I remember an education teacher in college telling me that kids - especially boys - shouldn't start school until the age of 7. They just learn more through play at that age and that's what they should be doing all day. Look at the country of Finland. There is NO formal schooling there until age 7 and they consistently score in the top 1-3% worldwide in high school international test scores while we linger in the bottom middle. There's something to be learned there, but we just can't see to catch on as we push everything earlier and earlier.

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answers from Oklahoma City on

He needs to stay going and he will settle down. I think probably sometime this month you'll see him start feeling better. He is testing the waters I think.

To me pulling him out only tells him that if he doesn't like something all he has to do is get upset and he doesn't have to do it.

On the other hand if he's a lot immature maybe he needs to start next year.

The only difference right now in full day kindergarten and half day kindergarten is that they eat lunch then take a nap in full day classes. Once winter break is over they'll wean the kids off naps completely during their day in school. They will start adding in more work after the break since the kids will all be awake during that time. It's won't all be sitting at a table having class, they add in an extra recess and it's more like an extended half hour of learning.



answers from Charleston on

Don't change a thing. This adjustment period can take several months for some kids. Trust your child's teacher. Ask her if he remains calm and focused throughout the day. Maybe you're seeing the tears because he misses you. That's normal. I think sometimes kids cry and get upset to go to school, because in their little heads, they think we're lonely and sad that they're gone all day. Keep positive, and don't dwell on this conversation with him. If fact, don't even bring it up! Don't ask him so many questions. Just go about your regular routine, get his homework done (if there is any), put out his clothes for the next day, etc... Keep him in a routine and keep him busy.

It's hard on the kids and the parents in kindergarten whether they transition well or not. My son just started kindergarten too, and the first two weeks, he popped out of bed every morning, just rearing to go. Now he's dragging and saying he wishes he could just go later. (this coming after 11 hours of sleep) It's hard going all day for them because they have to be "on" for a longer period of time.

Don't second guess yourself yet. Wait a little longer. If he's struggling in school with grasping the concepts he needs to master, then rethink your decision.

Good luck!



answers from Minneapolis on

I just want to say my heart breaks for him! and for you! poor momma. My daughter tells me that a little girl in her class still cries every morning and every day at rest time. I just told her to be extra nice to the little girl, and to remember that 'its alright to cry, crying gets the sad out of you' (great song to have him listen to, by the way - )

It is interesting that they see him doing well, making friends, playing, and passing tests. One time I was warned that, when starting Kindergarten, the child could act really bad (or worried, or sad, or...) at home, and it doesn't mean he is acting up at school. It's because ALL DAY LONG he has to work so hard at being 'good' and fitting in, and playing nice... that he is exhausted by the end of the day. And home is SAFE. where it is ok to complain, and cry, and act up.

My daughter is doing well at school, and when she gets home she tells me all good stories and is in a great mood, but right before bed, when she's trying to fall asleep, she starts to focus only on her fears (the bus ride) and I can tell she is just REALLY TIRED. I try to just get her to sleep as soon as possible when she starts that.

I would help him to hang in there for another couple of months and see how things are progressing. Make sure he is getting enough sleep!! that can make all the difference in the world. push bedtime up to 6:30 a few nights and see if that helps.

We also have created a 'mantra' for my daughter to repeat in her mind when she is feeling anxious. ours is "I am BRAVE. I am SAFE. I am LOVED". I have her say it out loud a couple of times and then to repeat it in her head.

A couple of kids books that deal with worries and fears are

Wemberly Worried by bill peet
Ready for Anything! by Keiko Kasza

The Kissing Hand



answers from Los Angeles on

I think you should stay where you are. He will adjust, though it's going to take longer for him than you would have hoped. The teacher feels that he is ready for the class, which is a great sign. She also said he's participating and does well while he's there.

It is very common for kids to cry at dropoff for a long time, but to be fine 5 minutes later. unfortunately, you only ever get to see the tears!

A couple of suggestions:
1. Can you or your husband volunteer in the classroom once a week? it will give you a chance to see how well he's doing and give him a chance to have a familiar face.

2. Ask the teacher which kids he seems to interact with most and start setting up playdates. Talk to the other moms, tell them he's having a hard time adjusting and invite their kids over to play (include the moms if they aren't comfortable doing a dropoff playdate with someone they don't know). Maybe once he's had the chance to get to know a couple of kids in a 1-1 setting, he'll feel better about playing with them at school.

3. Play school at home. Get a good sense of how the day goes and see if there are any specific parts that are upsetting him.

I know the trend these days is to hold back any child who seems like they might not be ready, for whatever reason, but most research proves that it doesn't make a difference in the long run. Your son turned 5 in June and is meant to be in kindergarten. He is age appropriate and academcially ready. With a little more time, he will adjust and you will see that he is also emotionally ready.

sorry he's having such a hard time. My son started kinder last week and I know it's a big adjustment!

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