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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Help, preschool people!

I just went back to work after almost four years at home. My girls turn four today! They started a preschool program at the university's children's center, where I teach (not at the children's center itself, I teach music). They go six or seven hours per day, five days per week. They seemed to be adjusting, but these days have been heck on wheels this week. Anni has been screaming, saying she doesn't want to go to school, yelling her head off for extended periods of time in school, freaking Ali out (Ali is ready to go off and play with other kiddoes now but won't while sister is so freaked). If Ali tries to go play Anni says "NO! We're not doing that!" And they both scream/cry... All this and more in mind-numbing detail from the preschool director.

This is the university's children's center. Fifteen children, two teachers, three to five college student assistants. Chosen for its NAEYC accreditation, teacher/student ratio, environment, proximity to my teaching location, etc etc etc. All seemed to be going well until this Monday.

Why? We're more than a month in! Why now, the whimpering, crying, the "I don't want to go to school" "I'm scared of school" etc in the afternoons, evenings, and mornings. Why screaming like being poked with knives for extended periods of time all day during school?

They are not both equally freaked out, Anni is the one here, and Ali, who is ready to go off and play with her friends, is freaked out by Anni's freaking out.

Oh - and - how do you concentrate on your work when you know your children are yelling their heads off in preschool?

Oh - and when do the body aches from missing them so much go away?

Oh - and what is going on here that the preschool director is telling me "never in my fifteen years have I seen anything like this"

I thought they were supposed to be adjusted by now. I didn't study up on this stuff, I was going to homeschool. What's going on? Why are my kids so unusual? What do I do? Comforting doesn't work. Leaving quickly doesn't work. Leaving slowly doesn't work. Consistency doesn't work. Inconsistency doesn't work. Getting pissy and saying to stop screaming doesn't work (not that I should admit to that one but heck, I really need some help here). Goddess help my babies! I feel like such a freak and failure as a mom - like my instincts are broken.

Breathing, breathing, but not too deeply - and thanks in advance...
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Thank you so much for all the views, so quickly! I need to go back to bed, I'm up in the middle of the night posting this... does anyone have any comments of any sort? I'd so much appreciate it!
 

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Our preschool teacher sent home a note saying that many kids freak out (not her words) after a few weeks in school because they realize that it's a permanent adjustment. That's a HUGE deal. She suggested always giving them something to look forward to. They take a picture from home with them every day and share with the class - half one day, half the next. Then sometimes they bring home pictures of something at school to share with us. My DD always brings home a picture of the paint.

You are not broken! It's just a huge adjustment for everyone and probably the biggest adjustment they've had to make so far. Give it a bit more time while trying to find things for them to look forward to.

Is there any way to keep them separate for the first hour or so? That worked for my best friend's younger set of twins. They had their own things to do then they were happy to see each other after about an hour. (The older set of twins are still inseparable.) That way maybe Ali could go off and play and maybe Anni can find something to like too. ...just a thought...

Also, have you discussed exactly how long they'll be there? Show them on the clock every day exactly what time you'll be back to get them. Get them watches and set the alarms if you need to.

I'll keep thinking.
 

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I hate hate hate hate it when directors say "I've never seen any kid act/react that way."
:

Yeah, what you're seeing is totally typical. The director doesn't observe your kids very much during the day. Can you talk to the lead teacher about how they are doing? Bring up your concerns, and see how the lead teacher responds. You describe a center nearly identical to our university child care program. The director doesn't know my kids, but the lead teacher does. Also, the lead can probably tell you if there is a particular person who your children have bonded to. You might want to work more closely with that person (even if he or she is a student) to make the process smoother.

I work hard to make the staff my allies in situations like this: "How can we work together to meet the needs of A?"

That being said, you might want to pop in early a few times to see if you can observe the day. I also will sometimes watch from outside the room for a few moments from a spot where the teachers and my kids might not notice me. Sometimes that's easier said than done.

It's a long adjustment process. Some kids take longer than others. Don't let a director tell you that "everyone" adjust in X amount of time. Hogwash.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks, everyone. Geofizz, thanks, I figured someone here would get the particular dynamic of a university children's center. They do have mirrors with one-way glass so I can observe any time, I just have to ask so they can open the curtains. CSI meets childcare, LOL.

It helped me so much just to type all this out, and I appreciate all the responses. I'm going to think them all over... keep 'em coming!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Quote:

Originally Posted by LittleRockstar View Post
Our preschool teacher sent home a note saying that many kids freak out (not her words) after a few weeks in school because they realize that it's a permanent adjustment. That's a HUGE deal. She suggested always giving them something to look forward to. They take a picture from home with them every day and share with the class - half one day, half the next. Then sometimes they bring home pictures of something at school to share with us. My DD always brings home a picture of the paint.

You are not broken! It's just a huge adjustment for everyone and probably the biggest adjustment they've had to make so far. Give it a bit more time while trying to find things for them to look forward to.

Is there any way to keep them separate for the first hour or so? That worked for my best friend's younger set of twins. They had their own things to do then they were happy to see each other after about an hour. (The older set of twins are still inseparable.) That way maybe Ali could go off and play and maybe Anni can find something to like too. ...just a thought...

Also, have you discussed exactly how long they'll be there? Show them on the clock every day exactly what time you'll be back to get them. Get them watches and set the alarms if you need to.

I'll keep thinking.
I really appreciate your insights here on the timing of the screaming. Seriously, I thought it was just my kids. LOL They have been keeping them separate for part of the a.m. and that does work well for them, though I hope it's a temporary thing and they will eventually feel free to be together or apart. But for now... They do know how long they'll be there and when I'll be there to pick them up, and we go over it in whimpering detail several times daily, sigh.
:
 

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I don't have the book here at work, but in Happiest Toddler on the Block, Harvey Karp talks some about ways of helping kids adjust. One of the things tickling my brain is the idea of putting a little checkmark (like with a pen) on the child's palm, with a kiss and a promise to come back at the end of the day--I think the idea is that it's a tangible reminder of the parent.
 

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We've gone through periods of "I don't want to go to school" with both kids off and on now over the years. It is very, very hard, especially when not sending them really isn't a realistic choice. I always conforted myself knowing that at least my crying screaming DD was being held by a teacher she really cared for (and vice versa) and not left to cry alone. Do you know how the teachers are handling her when she is crying?

We made a ritual with "The Kissing Hand". Its a book about a raccoon that doesn't want to go to school and how his mom gives him a special kiss to remind him of her love all night. ITs very, very cute. We would read it every morning, then do a "kissing hand" at goodbye time, along with a sticker for her hand (comes with the book). At least it was a comforting ritual, even if she still cried before or after it.

It does get better. They do adjust. Not that it makes it easier at the time! Now my little girl goes skipping off to the playground so fast she rarely gives me a goodbye kiss. Honestly, I'm not sure that I like that any better:)
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks for these ideas and book recommendations! We are big hand-kissers here.
I hadn't thought of doing a checkmark also, I think I might try that.

It really helps to know that my girls aren't the only ones who do this sort of thing. REALLY helps.
 

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I'm shocked that the director said "never in my fifteen years have I seen anything like this."

When I taught Sunday School/Pre-School, one of the first things I was taught was to not say things like that to parents! The line was to "never say a child cried all day, and it's true because they had to breathe at some point."
:

We weren't taught to withhold information from parents, but the bad stuff had to be talked about gently because they (the parents) would freak out otherwise.

Now, to your situation, I agree with a PP that they (or at least Anni) has realized this is permanent. It's like when DD1 seemed to realize DD2 was going to stay . . . She wasn't very happy about the baby anymore. . .
IMHO, the same thing is going on here. Anni may be thinking that she can't allow herself to have fun. She MUST miss you all the time! She needs to give herself permission to have fun without you. She needs to learn that she is not betraying you by enjoying herself independantly from you.

Do I have practical ideas? Not really. Perhaps you could verbally tell her "I want you to have fun without me today. When I come back, I want you to tell me what you did today." This may help her focus on her day.

Good Luck and

--LEE
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Quote:

Originally Posted by leewd View Post
I'm shocked that the director said "never in my fifteen years have I seen anything like this."

When I taught Sunday School/Pre-School, one of the first things I was taught was to not say things like that to parents! The line was to "never say a child cried all day, and it's true because they had to breathe at some point."
:

We weren't taught to withhold information from parents, but the bad stuff had to be talked about gently because they (the parents) would freak out otherwise.

Now, to your situation, I agree with a PP that they (or at least Anni) has realized this is permanent. It's like when DD1 seemed to realize DD2 was going to stay . . . She wasn't very happy about the baby anymore. . .
IMHO, the same thing is going on here. Anni may be thinking that she can't allow herself to have fun. She MUST miss you all the time! She needs to give herself permission to have fun without you. She needs to learn that she is not betraying you by enjoying herself independantly from you.

Do I have practical ideas? Not really. Perhaps you could verbally tell her "I want you to have fun without me today. When I come back, I want you to tell me what you did today." This may help her focus on her day.

Good Luck and

--LEE
Lee, good thoughts. Today when we dropped off, she was crying but not in a way that seemed like she was inconsolable.

On the director's comments, I have heard these types of things before in other situations, and as much as it disturbs my conformist upbringing
, it always always always means something about the speaker and nothing about me (or in this case, the girls). I forget this so easily (see above under conformist upbringing). I like the idea of encouraging her to have her own good day, so far that hasn't worked because she goes from calm to completely panicked in zero seconds flat. But I noticed today she seemed slightly more reachable emotionally. I'm hopeful that I can bring back the "you're going to be fine, have a fun day" sort of thing soon. For now, what seemed to work today anyway was to let her hang all over me for as long as possible. Sort of a physical presence bringing calm, ya know?

I keep wanting to call over there to see how things are going, but truly I feel that this would amplify the negativity/anxiety around the situation, so I am sending the girls (and their teachers, and their classmates, and all their ears
) lots and lots of positive vibes, love, light, and calm. (Sending some back to mommy too.)

Oh - and - today they turn four!!!!!!!!!
 

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what seems to work with my son is to ask him to do something for me - paint my husband a picture or draw something for grandma. By giving him a task to do AT preschool, it seems to focus him and give him a sense of what happens AFTER preschool.
 

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yeah. when i read your post about the director's "never in fifteen years..." all i can think is REALLY? i mean really really? thats a wierd comment. not sensetive to you, and it doesnt seem that it can possibly be accurate, if shes really been doing this job for fifteen years. maybe she meant something else? like perhaps shes never dealt with the dynamic of a sibling being effected in this way? that i could believe.

my son had a week of freak out at school after several good weeks, and in retrospect, he had a low grade stomach virus. when he felt better physically, the emotional stuff went away. could it be that your dd is just not feeling good? i also think the idea about a kid suddenly realizing this is long term sounds very valid. in any grade, ther is a honey moon period.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
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Originally Posted by sunbaby View Post
yeah. when i read your post about the director's "never in fifteen years..." all i can think is REALLY? i mean really really? thats a wierd comment. not sensetive to you, and it doesnt seem that it can possibly be accurate, if shes really been doing this job for fifteen years. maybe she meant something else? like perhaps shes never dealt with the dynamic of a sibling being effected in this way? that i could believe.

my son had a week of freak out at school after several good weeks, and in retrospect, he had a low grade stomach virus. when he felt better physically, the emotional stuff went away. could it be that your dd is just not feeling good? i also think the idea about a kid suddenly realizing this is long term sounds very valid. in any grade, ther is a honey moon period.
Yes, Anni has been coughing since yesterday, and as she coughs up the stuff (ick, LOL) she seems to be feeling better and easing into the school better. She still refuses to eat lunch, but sister is eating (I think they wait until Anni goes to lie down and then get Ali to eat - Ali is a vacuum cleaner and she refused to eat for three days while Anni didn't eat - not good! Bean poles with fast metabolisms NEED TO EAT!
).

Yesterday was their fourth birthday and I think everyone's making a fuss over that, plus they each got personalized crowns to wear and take home, helped them feel sort of coddled and happy. They seemed genuinely cheerful when we left yesterday.

I am hopeful this is that freak-out-because-it's-permanent thing. Frankly, I'm going through that myself, I went back to teaching THE VERY DAY they started preschool. After almost four years of us being home together, together 24/7. So I'm crying a lot too. All the changes are good, just emotional.

Thanks to everyone for your sane, wise words. I think the preschool director (who is also their lead teacher) was venting and using some hyperbole that day, yesterday when she talked to DH he said she was smiling and seemed relaxed about everything. I guess teachers who've been screamed at by twins for two days need to vent too, just like mamas.
 

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I hope things continue on a positive trajectory.

In addition to being sorta sick, remember that right around the birthday and half year is often really hard for kids. This is when cognitive spurts tend to happen. If you've got some of that happening on top of the transition to daycare, then it can be hard on them.

I'm not sure I understand what's up with the food? Kids gotta eat, and being hungry certainly affect behavior. (My daughter will act like that when she anticipates being presented with a meal she won't eat -- which is a whole 'nother thread...
)

Good on you for realizing that your lead teacher is a person, too, with good days and bad.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Quote:

Originally Posted by Geofizz View Post
I hope things continue on a positive trajectory.

In addition to being sorta sick, remember that right around the birthday and half year is often really hard for kids. This is when cognitive spurts tend to happen. If you've got some of that happening on top of the transition to daycare, then it can be hard on them.

I'm not sure I understand what's up with the food? Kids gotta eat, and being hungry certainly affect behavior. (My daughter will act like that when she anticipates being presented with a meal she won't eat -- which is a whole 'nother thread...
)

Good on you for realizing that your lead teacher is a person, too, with good days and bad.
Good point about the cognitive spurts. Anni is EXTREMELY verbal and notices EVERYTHING.

I dunno about the food. It's good food! Made by the culinary dept. students! I lurvs it myownself! They were wolfing it down until this week. I think it may be just a testing thing - I'll refuse it because I can, SO THERE. They don't force it, or anything, on the girls, but they do keep offering. I think it will settle down.
 

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Have you read "The Highly Sensitive Child"? I'm wondering if she's overstimulated. You said she notices everything.

Our highly sensitive son had a hard time with drop off until he was over 4 (he started a lovely, university daycare at 2 1/2). He's very easily overstimulated and it was hard for him to deal with the change. His sister adapted MUCH more easily.

If she's hungry, she's not going to have a good day. Can you bring food she'll eat? Or is she just not eating out of principle? One family in our center began bringing food for their son because he just hated the center food (which is really good, IMO). But he wouldn't eat it. So, they brought his from home. Kids with severe food allergies do that anyway, so the center was used to it.

Things that helped our son:
1. Developing a short, predictable routine at drop-off. Short is key here -- if it went on more than 5 minutes, it wasn't good.
2. Handing him over to a TEACHER, rather than trying to get him interested in something.
3. Having one teacher that was 'assigned' to him so that he developed a close relationship with them, and would feel more comfortable.
4. Arriving EARLIER -- I tried to arrive as late as possible so that he wouldn't have to spend so much time there. But, the later you get there, the more kids are there and the less individual time the teachers have for him. Find out from the teachers when the most kids arrive. At our center, it was 9 am. Arriving at 8:45 made a HUGE difference. It was less noisy, less chaotic and the teachers were more able to help him transition. For my sensory sensitive son, this made a big difference.

I never told him he'd be fine, because frankly, I didn't know. I did empathize with him, and tell him that I would miss him too. I would explain EXACTLY when I would pick him up, and we'd go through the day together. First you'll do this, then we'll do this.

Oh, and he actually also played 'school' at home with me. We'd go through the events of the day and he'd be the teacher and I'd be the student. Somehow that helped him work out what to expect and feel like he was in control. You might initiate that with your daughter. (Our ds initiated this, he's his own best therapist!
)
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Quote:

Originally Posted by LynnS6 View Post
Have you read "The Highly Sensitive Child"? I'm wondering if she's overstimulated. You said she notices everything.

Our highly sensitive son had a hard time with drop off until he was over 4 (he started a lovely, university daycare at 2 1/2). He's very easily overstimulated and it was hard for him to deal with the change. His sister adapted MUCH more easily.

If she's hungry, she's not going to have a good day. Can you bring food she'll eat? Or is she just not eating out of principle? One family in our center began bringing food for their son because he just hated the center food (which is really good, IMO). But he wouldn't eat it. So, they brought his from home. Kids with severe food allergies do that anyway, so the center was used to it.

Things that helped our son:
1. Developing a short, predictable routine at drop-off. Short is key here -- if it went on more than 5 minutes, it wasn't good.
2. Handing him over to a TEACHER, rather than trying to get him interested in something.
3. Having one teacher that was 'assigned' to him so that he developed a close relationship with them, and would feel more comfortable.
4. Arriving EARLIER -- I tried to arrive as late as possible so that he wouldn't have to spend so much time there. But, the later you get there, the more kids are there and the less individual time the teachers have for him. Find out from the teachers when the most kids arrive. At our center, it was 9 am. Arriving at 8:45 made a HUGE difference. It was less noisy, less chaotic and the teachers were more able to help him transition. For my sensory sensitive son, this made a big difference.

I never told him he'd be fine, because frankly, I didn't know. I did empathize with him, and tell him that I would miss him too. I would explain EXACTLY when I would pick him up, and we'd go through the day together. First you'll do this, then we'll do this.

Oh, and he actually also played 'school' at home with me. We'd go through the events of the day and he'd be the teacher and I'd be the student. Somehow that helped him work out what to expect and feel like he was in control. You might initiate that with your daughter. (Our ds initiated this, he's his own best therapist!
)
Thanks so much for this, for some reason this feels like you really get what's going on. I think I want to read that book. Love the routine ideas too. I think they fit her personality. Highly sensitive, eh? Might or might not take after her mama there...
:
 

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The author actually has a really good summary on her webpage.

Lynn also said something that reminded me of my daughter. She's an introvert, and group care is really stressful for her. A lot of what you describe actually sounds like how my daughter responds to too much stimulation. Raising your sprited child deals with introvertedness a tad, but IMO, not very effectively. This is another place to get one of the teachers as an ally. We strategize on ways to get my child some quiet alone time to recharge.
 
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