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#1 of 6 Old 09-11-2012, 09:44 AM - Thread Starter
 
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DS is 4.5 and recently started preschool. He has hypotonia, fine and gross motor delays, speech delays, etc. No other diagnosis even though he's seen a neurologist, geneticist, developmental pediatrician, etc.

He is having a *very* difficult time transitioning to school. The school is the best one I could find, I've heard nothing but good reviews, etc. It's a small class of 3 and 4 year olds...15 kids, two teachers and one parent helper (it's a co-op) each day. It's totally play based and the only thing they want children to learn is that "school is a fun and safe place.". Okay great. I will say I'm not terribly impressed but I'm very picky.

There are two huge issues going on. First is that he's having a horrible time separating from me. He was okay he first day for almost two hours, second day 20 minutes, third day 5 minutes and so on all followed by massive meltdowns. I've hung out at school and come in and stayed in the room with him when he's gotten so upset. Teachers have asked me not to "helicopter parent" and to let them settle him. That didn't work. They eventually came to get me. So that is problem A. He keeps saying he likes school but misses me and wants me to stay. He's having numerous meltdowns throughout the day if for instance I'm not standing in line with him holding hands. Teachers are majorly discouraging that. Regardless I'm 10 feet away from him but it isn't "close enough."

Problem B is I'm seeing how different he is from other kids. This is no surprise. I worked in a preschool during college. I guess I just expected the differences to be less stark. I'm not sure what I'm seeing... Sensory? Attention? Auditory processing? ASD? He seems so totally zoned out. He is normally very talkative. Here when anyone says anything, he seems totally oblivious. He's having a hard time "conforming.". Circle time, line up to go outside, everyone go wash hands.... He's just totally in his own world. He's like this a bit at home, but not nearly to this extent. It's like he's totally paralyzed by being overwhelmed. Completely unengaged. He can get busy doing something for a bit but doesn't like to be pulled from free play.

I don't know what to do. Besides cry. Which is all I want to do. So I'm posting in special needs because I know a lot of you have been through this and I'm hoping y'all will have some wisdom to share with me. I don't know if I should just keep coming every day, pull him out, homeschool? I feel like if we don't do this he's not going to be ready to start school next year. He can't be that sobbing kindergartener. I feel like if we don't make this work I'm going to be stuck homeschooling til he's 18 and I am not ready to sign up for that. I hate seeing him struggle so much though and am not totally thrilled with school.

Help....!
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#2 of 6 Old 09-11-2012, 11:47 AM
 
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Originally Posted by APToddlerMama View Post


He is having a *very* difficult time transitioning to school. The school is the best one I could find, I've heard nothing but good reviews, etc. It's a small class of 3 and 4 year olds...15 kids, two teachers and one parent helper (it's a co-op) each day. It's totally play based and the only thing they want children to learn is that "school is a fun and safe place.". Okay great. I will say I'm not terribly impressed but I'm very picky.
It may be a good school, but it may not be right for your particular situation.
 
 15 kid and two teachers is a lot for 3/4 yr olds. Yes, it is probably within state limits. But I taught 3 yr old preschool and we had a MAX of 12 with two teachers and they bumped it down to 10 the next year. 
 

There are two huge issues going on. First is that he's having a horrible time separating from me. He was okay he first day for almost two hours, second day 20 minutes, third day 5 minutes and so on all followed by massive meltdowns. I've hung out at school and come in and stayed in the room with him when he's gotten so upset. Teachers have asked me not to "helicopter parent" and to let them settle him. That didn't work. They eventually came to get me. So that is problem A. He keeps saying he likes school but misses me and wants me to stay. He's having numerous meltdowns throughout the day if for instance I'm not standing in line with him holding hands. Teachers are majorly discouraging that. Regardless I'm 10 feet away from him but it isn't "close enough."
As a preschool teacher, the schools approach would bother me. Some kids , especially nervous or anxious ones, need more time to adjust and forcing the seperation makes it 10x worse!
 

Problem B is I'm seeing how different he is from other kids. This is no surprise. I worked in a preschool during college. I guess I just expected the differences to be less stark. I'm not sure what I'm seeing... Sensory? Attention? Auditory processing? ASD? He seems so totally zoned out. He is normally very talkative. Here when anyone says anything, he seems totally oblivious. He's having a hard time "conforming.". Circle time, line up to go outside, everyone go wash hands.... He's just totally in his own world. He's like this a bit at home, but not nearly to this extent. It's like he's totally paralyzed by being overwhelmed. Completely unengaged. He can get busy doing something for a bit but doesn't like to be pulled from free play.
Could he be having some sensory concerns? Overstimulated/overwhelmend? Is he simply unable to handle the noise/organized chaos of that many little kids? Have you checked his hearing?
Is he simply 'blocking out' the activities/direction as a comfort activity (vs purposeful disobedience)? Is he struggling with the activitites (fine motor for fingerplays, singing for speech,etc)
 
Most kiddos are different at home than at preschool. Even kids act differently in groups vs one on one or with adults vs kids. 
 
 I feel like if we don't do this he's not going to be ready to start school next year.
A year is HUGE at this age. I would try to take it one month at a time.
He can't be that sobbing kindergartener. I feel like if we don't make this work I'm going to be stuck homeschooling til he's 18 and I am not ready to sign up for that. I hate seeing him struggle so much though and am not totally thrilled with school.
Help....!
A lot of kids sob in K, not that is is OK- but it is not unusual when emotions are high during big transitions. When you get to next year, deal with it then-- and be proactive if you are worried the months before K do a lot of things to help. Talk to the teacher, visit with her beforehand so your DS has a familiar face, make a playdate with a peer in class, etc.
 
Does your DS get therapies? I would see if somehow you can get involved in a different preschool and/or some support. I only ask about the therapies since you stated that you see a stark difference in skill between him and his peers. Speech/OT/PT/social skill classes may help.
Meanwhile look for a preschool that is more supportive of a gradual gentle transition to preschool and/or one that is not so overwhelming for your DS. Maybe a Mommy and Me preschool and/or maybe do shorter times at preschool. 
 
A preschool that is not willing to work with you on easing the transition is one that may not  support a kiddo that is anxious, stressed, and/or struggling.  
 
FWIW- one of my DDs at 4 is so much different than the same DD at 6.75. Yes, she struggles with many of the same things- but she really loves school and has made friends (besides her twin). At 4, I worried about that so much since she rarely even looked at or played with other children.
 
*HUGS* maybe pick a date and see if things improve- if not, move on to try something else. THere is nothing wrong with trying a different setting/teacher/philosophy.
 
 
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#3 of 6 Old 09-14-2012, 07:11 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you so much KC! I was hoping to reply from my computer so I could quote and answer your questions but I never seem to have time to use anything but my phone.

Anyhow, thanks for talking me down. That's great to hear about the change in your child between four and six! I think you're right about the ratios too. It does seem to be a bit much. He is receiving OT, PT, and speech services and definitely part of this is probably sensory. Oddly, he is a real sensory seeker, but I think his motor planning issues are also impacting worrying about the extra movement and activity in the classroom. He's not struggling from a fine or gross motor or speech skills standpoint...he can do all the things asked and we do them at home. I think he's maybe just worried about others in his space, overwhelmed, etc.

These teachers are not nurturing or warm and that is what he really needs. I just don't know of a program here that would meet his needs and I've looked. It's aggravating that the teachers seem to think his difficulty separating is so odd. I feel like we're on a real short leash with them and don't think they are going to tolerate me in the room much longer. I'm not even sure I feel comfortable leaving him with them when they seem to really be lacking in empathy. It's odd that my assessment of this school has been so much more negative than everyone else I've talked to. I don't know if mys expectations are too high or what.
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#4 of 6 Old 09-15-2012, 01:31 PM
 
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I am sorry to read that your little guy is struggling with this transition.  I agree that the ratio of adults to children is too low.  My daughter's program has 1 adult for every 5 children plus a parent helper every day in our coop.

 

If you take him out of this school, you may want to consider choosing a school for a mid year opening or you may have luck finding a program with an opening now that will allow you to transition your child and have a willingness to work with your child's professionals to make the environment less confusing for him.  If you keep him there, itt may help him if an OT/speech therapist  took a look at the environment to see how it could be structured better and make recommendations for his successful transition.  Also, you could try to find a preschool that already consults or works with speech and ot, maybe one that is run by your school district.

 

To contrast, my children's school which is a waldorf style play based environment, has successfully transitioned many children who have faced mild to severe separation anxiety at the start.  One parent, actually joined their child for a month, until they settled in.  He did not have any sensory, language or learning issues, just a new baby sibling at home and was overwhelmed by the demands of school and worried about his mother's love.  He did beautifully after the 1st month.  The school was brilliant, easing the mother out of the day, slowly, and with a structured pace, where the child was told what to expect.  This boy is now 11 by the way....(he went to school with my eldest) and he doesn't have separation anxiety any more!) 

 

My point is, with the right school teachers, this transition could be so much easier for all of you, and certainly much less judgmental.  It is NOT unusual at all for a child to experience anxiety, even high anxiety when they first begin school, (especially a child with special needs).

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#5 of 6 Old 09-15-2012, 03:50 PM
 
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My DD is having the exact same issues are your problem B. She is 3, in a Montessori class of 2-3 year olds, school her brother went through beautifully. She is super excited to go to school, very chatty on the ride there, once she gets there she just clams up. Any question asked of her she answers with a blank stare. She really just watches them. She has been there 3 months and they don't think she talks much. At home she never shuts up. She has mild CP, and all the same issues your son has. I too watch the other kids running around and feel a little sad for how much she stands out. The only reason I have not pulled her out- is that she seems to enjoy being there. She may not talk to them, but she bring so much that she has learned home. Sings songs they taught her, phrases we never use etc. My son is finishing his last year there. Next year I may put her somewhere new. I was just very attached to her not going to a developmental preschool and being with her peers. She is the only SN child in the school that I know of. 

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#6 of 6 Old 09-21-2012, 11:43 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you liinglife and askew. It's funny because I hear of all these schools with much lower ratios and smaller classes but I've spent hours searching for one here and have come up empty handed. I don't think they exist here.

Im stuck trying to make this work for now but I'm probably going to pull him out if things don't improve soon.
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