My DS, who turned three earlier this month, began a TTh a.m. preschool program last week. We both got off to a rocky start--largely due to a mistake on the part of the school--and I am trying to figure out where to go from here.
To make a long story short, DS was fine when I dropped him off, reportedly happy (though quiet) when I called the director to check on him mid-morning, but crying hard when I returned after lunch. His teacher told me he was "having trouble with transitions." Later she phoned to tell me that I needed to remind DS to stay with the group because he hadn't followed the other kids out of the bathroom. Well, it was only later that I figured out from what DS told me, that the teachers had actually left him behind by himself in an upstairs bathroom while they went downstairs!!! Fortunately, another teacher saw him come out of the bathroom a few minutes later and notified the director, who reunited him with his class en route to the playground. When I questioned her directly on Th, the director confirmed what DS had told me.
I hope you all will understand how very upset and angry I was that this had happened and that I had not been given the full story when I called to check on DS or when I picked him up. If my child were not so verbal, I still would not know the truth. Didn't his teachers realize that a three year old on his first day of school *ever, being asked to move from one strange place to another, might get a little confused about what was going on? There were six students with each teacher in the bathroom--can't they count to *six? And why say that DS was "having trouble with transitions?" I'm sorry, but if a child is left behind in a bathroom on the first day of school, it is the *teachers who are having trouble with transitions! No wonder he was anxious every time they moved somewhere else after that.
And to continue my rant, why did I have to hear about this from my three year old? How am I to trust the school with my child if they don't tell me what happens to him while in their care? The director, to her credit, did apologize to me and say she had made a mistake in not telling me. She also said, "That (hiding the truth) is not the way we do things here," and "I have never not been honest with a parent before." (Well, thank you for choosing me as your test case!
Anyway, my dilemma is this: Do I pull DS out of the school or try to recover trust (his and mine both) and keep him there? DS cried when I dropped him off on Th, and I felt terrible leaving him. I only went down the hall to talk to the director, and I didn't leave till I was able to peek in the classroom window and see DS talking and laughing as he built a block tower. So he did recover, but his teacher told me he cried again during every transition, and also occasionally when he would think of me. She said he cried only "a few minutes," but I don't know if she is minimizing that the way she minimized the bathroom incident.
The director has given me several options, including withdrawing DS entirely, starting him again in a month or so when the other two new students have made their adjustment (right now I think their crying is reminding DS of his sadness and vice-versa), and going ahead but with fewer hours and working up to a full morning gradually. The school policy is not to allow parents to stay in the classroom, but I know the mother of one of the other tearful students did return to be with her daughter on Th. (Again, I learned this from DS. We ran into the family later in the store and the mother confirmed what he said.)
I am having a difficult time deciding what to do. In addition to talking about crying and being separated from the group, DS has said a lot of positive things about his school and has already mentioned several classmates by name. (The main reason I sent him to school was to be with other kids.) He has a few times been a little fearful of being separated from me at home, but is generally his normal, happy self. And he is obviously verbal enough to talk over with me what is bothering him and even to comfort himself when I'm not there. (When I asked him what he was thinking while he was crying at school, he said, "There was a quiet voice in my head saying, "Mama will pick me up."
There are a lot of things I *do like about his school (NAEYC accredited, with a play-oriented program, and the option of coming only two a.m.s/wk at 3 and 4 both). *But I am having trouble trusting the teacher and even the director at this point. And I really, really, really, do not want to leave DS screaming and crying and reaching for me. It just feels wrong, even if he does adjust after I am gone. He has been with a babysitter in the past, but only after a long period of adjustment, with me there as long as he needed. My DS is so loving and friendly, and I am afraid of damaging his trust in me and in adults in general by leaving him too abruptly and too long in a situation he is finding difficult.
If anyone is still reading, what would you do? I am leaning towards trying again next week, but bringing DS to school later, so he'll have fewer transitions to deal with and a shorter day. But I don't know if I can leave again while he is screaming for me. This is so hard. I really need some perspective. I have been in such turmoil, and am coming down with a cold now, and am sensitive to begin with (in case you couldn't tell from this post
). I hope someone out there has some words of wisdom for me, or at least a