"Shy" 4 yr old and preschool - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 5 Old 06-03-2014, 06:50 PM - Thread Starter
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Question "Shy" 4 yr old and preschool

Our 4 yr old (Jan birthday) is extremely hesitant and retiring around groups of other kids - she has a lot of fear around rambunctious kids especially, and is just generally shy. She is fairly comfortable in one-on-one situations with new kids, but still takes about 15 minutes to observe and get her bearings. I see her carefulness and observing nature as a positive thing, but I really worry about her seeming inability to stick up for herself - even as a one-yr-old she would never protest or resist when other kids took her toys.

So my Mom thinks that she needs to go to preschool for the socialization. It's not like she has no exposure to other kids, but Kindergarten will be very overwhelming to her as things are now. I'm torn about it... there are no local options for anything like Waldorf or Montessori, and I am not to keen on conventional education for real little kids. She certainly does not need preschool for the educational component - she's very bright and has been self-motivated to learn most of what she would get in preschool already. It could really be helpful for her if she would get accustomed to being around groups of kids, but I'm afraid it could backfire and cause more anxiety. And I'm concerned about messing up her natural drive to learn by starting with school too early. We've considered keeping her out of kindergarten anyway, and sort of un-schooling for that year. But I am really torn about the socialization aspect. Any thoughts from those of you with "shy" kids?

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#2 of 5 Old 06-03-2014, 08:22 PM
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My dd was outgoing after age 3.5 but as a preschool teacher I have seen how much a child can blossom when placed in a classroom where social skills are taught in a hands on way. As a teacher and mom I have seen places that do nothing to encourage social skills also and the shy kids stay shy while the children who behave in unkind ways towards other children move towards becoming bullies. I think if you find the right setting it will be a wonderful experience and she will gain useful skills for kindergarten and if not you should keep her home and save your money.

I don't think going straight into first grade is a good idea. Kindergarten is a time when many kids are nervous and finding their way at school and with friends but after that the social scene is much harder to navigate plus it will have to be done while learning the structure of school. I'm biased though because I still remember how awful it was to be the shy first grader away from home for the first time and not having even one friend all year. IME, socializing at church and the park and getting along socially while going to school are not the same, not even a little.
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#3 of 5 Old 06-04-2014, 05:46 AM - Thread Starter
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One_Girl - Thanks - that's helpful. What questions would you suggest asking the preschool staff to get an idea about their approach toward social skills?
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#4 of 5 Old 06-09-2014, 02:09 AM
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My (just turned) four year old son is the same way. He's an observer and hesitant to jump into groups of kids. Does great one-on-one though. He also gets easily pushed around on the playground, for example, by older boys, which worries me. He's been in a Waldorf preschool for over a year now and does great there. They fully respect the way he is and never force him to participate. They tell me he's really come out of his shell this year, his second year there. But he needs a lot of time to observe before he feels comfortable enough to join in.

I agree that children like ours have a hard time socially and in big groups and it may be hard and overwhelming for your DD to start school full-time when first grade rolls around. The advantage of preschool/kindergarten is they can go just a few mornings a week so ease their way into it. It's a pity you have no alternative options because for us the Waldorf approach has made all the difference, not to mention I fully agree that early childhood should not be about traditional education and desk-style learning.

Are there any classes you could bring your daughter to either together or as a drop-off, like dancing, swimming, music, etc. Could you organize a playgroup of 3-4 kids and alternate which parent has them over each week just for more socializing and group experience for her? Maybe there's some playgroup or other group you could find on meetup.com and go to with her to meet other kids?

Still, if I were you I would look at every preschool / kindergarten around and see if any would suffice. Maybe there's a viable option. However you manage it, gradual socialization and getting used to groups could help ease the transition into school so it's not a totally overwhelming shock in 1st grade. Best of luck!

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#5 of 5 Old 06-09-2014, 06:54 PM
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I agree with ONe Girl in many ways, and I'm a big fan of preschool. For someone that plans to use public schooling, preschool can be a very big 'plus.' There are many many shy kids in preschool and public school. Children learn how to adapt so much more easily than we think they will, given Most NAEYC (Nat'l Assoc. for the Education of Young Children) accredited preschools will have a very positive, play based approach which works very well for most kids.

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