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Almost 3 year old having problems starting at Montessori

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

Please help! My son will be three in January, and we are having our second child in early January. The discussion of preschool has come up many times, but I was resistant to the idea for a long time. I've always stayed home with him, and we are embracing natural parenting. We still cosleep, and we have a great attached relationship. In September my husband's parents really started pushing the idea of preschool. Everyone agreed it was better to start him a few months before three so that he wouldn't feel pushed away because of the new baby. He was excited to visit the school, and I thought he must be ready. He was happy to meet the teachers and other kids. The school is a Montessori school by the way. The teachers are excellent, and I agree with much of their philosophies. However, once my son realized he was going to be left at the school, he quickly changed his mind. He hates going. He hasn't made friends. He scream-cries every time I leave him. We're only at the end of his first month, but it's been a horrible month. He only goes three mornings a week. MWF from 8:30-11:30 but he's crying when I leave and a lot of times he's crying when I pick him up. The teachers say he's doing better and engages in the lessons and even plays, but he knows when it's time for me to pick him up and starts to cry again.

 

This is all so stressful for me. I've never let him cry about anything. Everyone keeps saying he just has to get used to it, but those words strongly remind me of people who say that about letting babies cry themselves to sleep. I didn't do it then, and I'm having a hard time letting him cry about stuff now. He's my baby. Please offer kind words if you have them. Did I start him in school too soon? Are all transitions this hard? I cry most days after leaving him there, and I feel like the separation anxiety can't be good for either of us.

 

In need of a hug,

 

J

post #2 of 11
Big hugs mama. That's got to be stressful. I can't help but think that once the newborn comes you will appreciate him being in preschool. I know you love him very much and want the best for him. It does sound like he is adjusting, he just isn't done adjusting. I think there is a big difference in a toddler being dropped off to a warm and welcoming environment with adults and other kids while being sad that mommy is leaving and an infant being left alone in a cold crib. By all means follow your instincts but I would stick it out a bit longer to see if he continues to adjust. I just think those 9 hours a week will come in very handy once the baby is born. In the meantime maybe you can do something special after preschool that he can look forward to. Nurture him when you're together, do lots of things he likes but I would try to stick with it.
post #3 of 11

I'm sorry you and your little guy are having a tough time, oneearthmama. I know that when I drop my son (almost 16 months) off at a sitter's or at daycare, he cries as I leave but is off and running with the other kids within 5 minutes of my departure. I've seen photographic evidence! That actually really helped me, having the daycare lady send me a picture when DS was happy again. Seriously, it never takes longer than 15 minutes. Are your Montessori teachers willing to do that for you? It must be really hard to leave him somewhere you've never seen him do anything but cry!

 

What are your departures like? Do you linger or are you quick and matter-of-fact about it? For me, the more emotional I get, the more emotional DS gets. The first time, I cried a little bit, myself, but I did it in the car. What works best for us is me leaving quickly, not sneaking off but saying "Bye, see you at 3!", and his caregiver immediately leading him into an activity.

 

So that's what has worked for me. I agree with skycheattraffic, those few hours a week may be a real sanity saver for you when the new baby arrives, and this is probably a much easier time to transition your DS than after s/he's born. Hang in there!

post #4 of 11

I would take him out and give it a year and then try again! no need for him to be so sad like that- can you just take him out and keep him home with you right away?

post #5 of 11

I own a Montessori school, and we do take pictures so that families know they are working peacefully in class. What we typically see in separation anxiety cases is that a full-time student (M-F) takes about 30 day (give or take) to adjust and that a part-time student (3 days a week or less) takes about twice that long. As Katie8681 said the parent drop-off makes a big difference. They can sense when you are upset about the drop off and will reflect that back. Also, the drop quickly and say good-bye and then leave works best. If the crying makes you linger, then they are being rewarded for the crying by more time with mom. Therefore, it will take more time for the crying to stop. What almost 3 yr old doesn't want more mommy time? I have seen that beginning a child right before a new baby comes into the family is much preferred over after the baby arrives. Then the student does not then feel "pushed out" by the new baby. What we tell parents is to be on the lookout if your child complains about specific things in the classroom that would be an indicator of something possibly going on in the classroom. Good luck! 

post #6 of 11

My DD will be 3 in January too, and started a homeschool-enrichment program one morning a week in early September. We are pretty attached as well and this was her first experience ever being away from mama. The first month was very, very difficult - she cried every time I left and was in tears already before I came back to pick her up.

 

However, this month she has been SO much better! We hung in there and now she jumps out of the car when she gets to school and can't wait to go play with the other kids. Her behavior overall has been so much better and we've noticed a huge increase in her independence - she is still pretty shy, but she is getting over her fear of doing things by herself and always wanting mama to do things for her. It is so nice to pick her up from school and hear her happily chatter on about what she did that morning :)

 

One thing that worked for us, is that my DH takes her to school now instead of me. She is much more attached to me than him and has a much easier time if he takes her to school. If your LO is more attached to you, could someone else take him to school? Also, maybe 3 days a week is too much right now.....maybe you could try 2 days and work up to 3? Hope this helps you somewhat, hang in there mama!! hug.gif

post #7 of 11
Thread Starter 

Thank you so much for the comments everyone! The support and advice have been more helpful than you can imagine. It's great to have a community of like-minded mamas I can turn to. This week we tried taking him three days in a row (W, TH, F) instead of the usual MWF, and my husband took him today and yesterday. The improvement was amazing. He only cried twice yesterday, and he didn't cry at ALL today! I can't express how happy this makes me. Wednesday was horrible, and I cried after dropping him off and then again just thinking about taking him the next day. That was when my husband offered to take him. I think he's probably much better at the drop and run, and they aren't attached in the same way as we are. Hopefully, things will continue to improve. Again, thank you all so much for your helpful feedback. It really encouraged me over the past few days.

post #8 of 11
Quote:
This week we tried taking him three days in a row (W, TH, F) instead of the usual MWF

 

 

This may really help him get into a routine of school.  My Montessori school only has 4 or 5 day options because they feel the routine is so important to the kids.  My oldest son had a very difficult transition to school and cried at least a couple of times/week for 2 years.  However, every single time I went in to observe him on the video monitor--and it was a lot!-- he was happy and involved with different works and playing with other kids.  His teachers were awesome working with him and me to make it easier on him.  I think he would have had a much more difficult time with a MWF schedule.  By the time he was in Kindergarten, it was much, much easier.

 

To this day, he has a very hard time with transitions and it was the transition was the problem--not the fact that he was going to school.  

post #9 of 11

As a staff member at a Montessori school (but not a teacher), please know this adjustment period is normal.  Before I read all the posts my first thought was the every other day schedule is too confusing.  Our school (AMI certified) is five days only for consistency.  Your Tues-Thurs is a great modification and will help.  As stated, drop off is so important.  You are so vulnerable being pregnant, so have your husband do it as much as possible to keep it quick and tear-free.  Many mornings I have seen children walk into the classroom after a tearful good-bye and in five minutes they are busy with the materials or friends.  Keep communicating with the teacher to understand how he does, but don't fret.  Hang in there!

post #10 of 11

Just wanted to say that I put my daughter in day care 3 days a week when she was 2.5 and it was unpleasant in many of the ways you are describing.  I did it for a couple of months and then quit.  She is home with me all the time now.  I have used the money to hire a babysitter/nanny to come 2 afternoons a week so I can take a nap now that we have a new baby.  Good luck. 
 

post #11 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by saralm View Post

Just wanted to say that I put my daughter in day care 3 days a week when she was 2.5 and it was unpleasant in many of the ways you are describing.  I did it for a couple of months and then quit.  She is home with me all the time now.  I have used the money to hire a babysitter/nanny to come 2 afternoons a week so I can take a nap now that we have a new baby.  Good luck. 
 

This sounds like a good alternative Saralm.  A friend of mine started her three year old at Waldorf and after a couple of tearful drop offs decided it was not the right decision and that her daughter was too young, They too, are waiting a year and will try again and see if she is truly ready. She is very in tune with her daughter and I commend her for following her instincts.

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