Preschool issues - Mothering Forums
Learning at School > Preschool issues
zipperump-a-zoomum's Avatar zipperump-a-zoomum 03:14 AM 01-21-2005
So tell me, why is it that everyone keeps telling me it is normal for kids to cry and protest at being left at preschool? Why is that considered normal? Why isn't that a sign that kids aren't ready for the situation they're being put in?

Let me give me you the background to my Q. DS will be 4 in March. I want to find a preschool for him. (3, 4 mornings a week, which is hard to find. They all want 5 mornings or more.)
I think he's ready, but I'm not totally sure. So I want somewhere that will allow me to enter him gradually, and will offer some small amount of the full tuition back if it turns out that he isn't ready. Why does it seem that this is impossible to find?

I will not leave my child crying. I won't do it. I don't think that this normal, or healthy. Why do we as a society seem to have accepted that as the norm???
None of these places seem willing to let me bring him to see the school or meet the teacher before hand. So they want me to leave my kid in a totally strange place, with people he's never met before, and they expect him to be ok with that? That's f-ed up if you ask me.

Argh. I'm totally frustrated with this whole thing. He is the last of his friends to enter school, and I really think he'd like it if he could do it on his own schedule and warm up to the teachers. I'm getting worried that there won't be anyone his age to play with if they are all in school next year, and he's a social kid.

Thanks for reading.

thoesly's Avatar thoesly 03:36 PM 01-21-2005
How do you feel when you start something new -- a new job, a new book group, a new club? I always feel apprehensive even though I'm excited -- the fear of the unfamiliar. If I were 3 or 4 years old and hadn't yet developed coping strategies or had a lot of other experiences with new things, I'd cry. For most kids, the anxiety tears only last a few minutes, and then they are on to new things and enjoying the experience. My mother was a preschool aide for many years. In all that time, she only saw one child who spent most of his days crying -- and the teacher let his parents know that he was struggling and wasn't ready for preschool.

As parents, we have the difficult job of deciding whether our child is ready or not. When my kids started school, there were a few tears, but they were over within minutes of my leaving (my presence fuels their tears -- much the same way in which they only cry over a minor bump if they know I am watching). If the tears had lasted longer than that, I would have reevaluated my plans-- but then, if I had expected the tears to last longer than that, I wouldn't have been trying preschool yet. But pulling them out of preschool because of a couple of minutes of anxiety tears would have deprived them of an enjoyable growth experience.

Good luck finding what you want -- here in Colorado, preschool is only 2 or 4 days a week, so you are in a more difficult situation than I was.
kaydee's Avatar kaydee 04:43 AM 01-22-2005
Originally Posted by zipperump-a-zoomum
None of these places seem willing to let me bring him to see the school or meet the teacher before hand. So they want me to leave my kid in a totally strange place, with people he's never met before, and they expect him to be ok with that? That's f-ed up if you ask me.
Whoa--that's strange. We are currently shopping around for preschools, and all of them said that if we enroll, they want us (dc and I) to come several times for several hour visits before he actually starts school. We are also bringing him for short visits to the 2-3 we are considering seriously before making up our minds. I think there is something very wrong with a place that won't allow you to transition your child into a new environment. I have not heard of that in any of the multiple schools we've visited.
lauren's Avatar lauren 10:03 AM 01-22-2005
Kaly, as others have said it does seem strange that many places have this rule that you can't visit and let him/you get used to it. This does not seem at all child-focused and would make me worry about the approach the school uses in general. I can see them not wanting to give tuition back, but maybe there is a 'pay by the month' plan for those who are unsure. See if you can find a preschool that is NAEYC accredited (nat'l assoc. for education of young children) This accredidation assures good standards for developmental practice in early ed. There are many people running 'preschools' without the developmental knowledge of what preschoolers need.

I think it is wrong to leave a child screaming and crying at preschool and accommodations should be made to make sure he/she is feeling safe by the time mom leaves. At the same time, it is the teacher's job to help this happen, by helping the child transition into an activity that is potentially just as desirable as clinging to mom. Good preschools will do this.

Three year olds often have more difficulty with separation than 4 year olds. The same 3 y.o. that had a rough time may be the 4 y.o. who lets mom leave without a glance. so there is a readiness component. At the same time when a child is ready, but just a little unsure, they can really grow by seeing they are able to "do it" without mom, if you know what I mean. They feel great. To use Thoesly's analogy, if you try something new that you are unfamiliar with and you succeed in sticking it out, you feel a sense of accomplishment. I think it is no different for our children.

Keep searching. I'm sure the right preschool is out there somewhere!
CarrieMF's Avatar CarrieMF 05:33 PM 01-22-2005
None of these places seem willing to let me bring him to see the school or meet the teacher before hand. So they want me to leave my kid in a totally strange place, with people he's never met before, and they expect him to be ok with that? That's f-ed up if you ask me.
I agree with you. This would send of warning bells to me and my child would not be left in a place like this.

when I sent my kids to playschool they had met the teacher before hand, twice. Tirza was more iffy about going. She did cry a little(stopped within minutes) but at the same time she was in ballet and she was having huge issues with one of the kids there. Once she got out of ballet she did alot better at playschool. Tirza has always been more shy. The 2nd year she left without saying anything to me, in fact she wanted to walk to school

With Asha she did what Tirza did the 2nd year, just took off no word to me. She was too young to remember the teacher and the teacher moved to a different school. Nadia goes in the fall and I know she will be fine.

When Tirza was in her first year there was a girl who's mom told her she was sitting in the truck outside waiting for her. As long as the girl thought the mom was outside she was fine. It took her a couple of months to get the point where thinking mom was outside that she was fine. She was always a very shy girl.
zipperump-a-zoomum's Avatar zipperump-a-zoomum 12:42 AM 01-25-2005
Thanks guys! I can't tell you how much your responses have helped me. I feel a lot more confident interviewing these places knowing that I'm not a total crazy for thinking that leaving kids crying and screaming isn't right.
I don't know if it is just the area, or the schools I'm visiting, but there really are some wacky places out there.
I'm going to keep looking, and if I don't find anything I like, I'm going to stick with our playgroup co-op.
Thanks again!
my2girlsmama's Avatar my2girlsmama 04:20 PM 01-25-2005
I think you are a wonderful perceptive mother to know he needs time in adjusting. I agree society is stupid and behind in believing we should send our kids off and forget their feelings. I refuse to do that ever.

My dd is SK, 5 yrs old. She has had bouts still of refusing to go, crying etc. On one occasion I had to bring her back home upon returning her to school from lunch..the lunch supervisor freaked out because I had the nerve : to grab her and bring her back to my van (had baby waiting inside!!) and home. She said she can't allow *just anyone*to take the kids and I said um..that is MY kid and you knew it was ME and MY van moron. Anyways, I also fought her teacher a few times saying I don't like or allow crying needing me..........they now know to shut up and let me do as I need to. It is a fight but you must advocate for your child no matter what or sadly the system will eat them alive.

Good luck!
mama2silas's Avatar mama2silas 08:39 PM 01-25-2005
It takes a while for a child to adjust. We started our ds in nursery school 3 days a week at the begining of the year. Even now, he usually doesn't like it when I leave him in the mornings. He doesn't cry, but holds onto my leg for dear life. The teachers are really great and gently take him from me. BUT, when we pick him up? We have a HARD time getting him to leave most days. He just wants to stay and play. I now pick him up 30 minutes later so he has more playtime and is more ready to come home.

We toured the place first (but it was where I went to preschool 30 years ago, so I was pretty sure it was a good place), and ds insisted on staying and playing on the playground with the rest of his "class" while I toured with the director. I knew it was a good sign!
Greaseball's Avatar Greaseball 06:43 PM 01-29-2005
I will not leave my child crying. I won't do it. I don't think that this normal, or healthy. Why do we as a society seem to have accepted that as the norm???
I think CIO with preschoolers is just as wrong as CIO with infants. I want to have a choice about whether I go to school or anywhere else, and I want my child to have a choice as well.

I would stay away from any school that did not allow my child to get used to it on her own terms. And if she did cry for any reason during the day, I'd want the teachers to pay attention and reassure her, not ignore her.

Maybe the school just doesn't want to charge tuition on a reduced rate for parents only bringing their kid 2 or 3 days a week. If they charged a flat fee, and a parent was willing to pay it even if their kid decided not to go at all one week and maybe 2 days the next, it shouldn't matter. They would still get their money and then the child could come whenever he wanted to.

I'd rather do no preschool at all than settle for one that didn't feel right.
Kirsten's Avatar Kirsten 09:21 PM 02-03-2005
Keep looking! You have somehow stumbled across a bunch of weird preschools. There must be some decent ones in your area somewhere?

Have you looked at any co-ops run through community colleges? My dd1 and dd2 went to a co-op preschool (at age 3 you go two half days a week and mom stays one of those days to work). My nearest community colleges are 30 minutes away but both run preschools in various areas - not just in those towns.

I second the idea of finding a preschool associated with NAEYC (pronounced n-eye-ack). Accreditation from them is a long process but many preschools follow DAP (developmentally appropriate practices) without the full accreditation. When I called preschools for info, one of my questions was if they sent their teacher(s) to the state NAEYC conferences. If they asked what NAEYC was, that was a check in the "no" column to me. Even if they were not accredited, they should know of NAEYC at least. They should follow developmentally appropriate practices.

Good luck finding something you love! It is out there somewhere... If you are willing to drive a bit, your options may open up some? I drove between 15 and 30 minutes (each way) to preschools that my dd1 and dd2 attended. I figured I'd rather drive and be deliriously happy than be near my house and only think it is so-so.
mamaliss's Avatar mamaliss 09:32 PM 02-03-2005
Also on the first few days of school I sat there until I thought it was cool to leave. There is no law against that,its YOUR child!!!!!!!! My kids were late four year old when they went two half days a week, five hours total.