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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey everybody, I feel like I need advice from both sides of the spectrum (well, from both sides of the MDC spectrum, maybe not the WHOLE cry-it-out-included parenting spectrum that we know IRL.) :laugh: DH and I decided years ago to homeschool our almost 4 yo DS and 1.5 yo DD, but this school year we just started DS in a once a week, 4.5 hour long mother's day out program (so, technically NOT preschool) because I want him to have SOME formal classroom experience. (My biggest issue with public school is just how plain EXHAUSTED and a part of the rat race kids tend to be these days. DS is definitely the type of personality/learning style that WOULD do very well in school, I just want my kids to have more flexibility in their lives/education/schedules.) So, DS seems to like the teachers, activities, etc at "school" but has gotten progressively more teary-eyed each week when it's time to get dropped off, until this week he was sobbing hysterically when I tried to leave. From what he says, he just doesn't want to be away from me. I know 'regular' school parents believe in a more 'cry-it-out' approach in situations like this since in a year or two their kid has to go to kindergarten. I also figure homeschooling parents would say, "Why bother if you're going to homeschool him anyway? Why torture the kid, just let him stay at home!" I feel like I'm kind of stuck in the middle because I see some validity in both ideas, but don't want to go to either extreme. I don't want him to be forced into anything at not quite 4 yo, but do want him to push the boundaries of his comfort zone just a little. WWYD, wait til next school year (when he'll still be preschool age) to try a once a week class like this, or keep trying right now? Middle ground I'm not thinking of? TIA!
 

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I think I would wait a year and spend it preparing him. Talking about how cool school is, reading books about school, maybe putting him in a class that you go with him to that has a teacher like swim lessons or something.
My dd is only 2, but we're starting her in classes in a few months so she gets used to taking direction from someone other than me.
I am also a big believer in getting kids to decide for themselves, so after months of making school seem super awesome, maybe ask him if he wants to go? He might be more likely to want to stay if it was his idea.
 

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Public school mama here, who never had to leave a crying child at school! (nor would I advocate for doing so!)

I think one of the challenges here is that this program is once a week. A week is a really long time in the mind of a preschooler, so it is almost like starting over each week, in comparison to a program that runs a few days a week or 5 days a week.

If this is important to you, why don't you try staying until he feels comfortable each day? If he is typical, he will eventually build peer relationships that become very important to him, and you will start to recede as being important to the experience (which is normal!) If the program does not allow parents to stay, that is a bit of a problem, but most developmentally solid programs would allow a parent to stay as long as it takes until their child is comfortable.
 

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Homeschooling mom. What options are available for you to stay for decreasing amounts of time each week? "Trust" in other people can be contingent on many factors:

This sounded fun until I realized you would be leaving. I'm ready for the activities, ready to be led by other people, but not ready to give you up, even for a day.

The teachers turned out to be not as supportive as I thought.

Something "little" happened that turned out to be big, and I can't quite figure out what it was or how to tell the teachers.

I prefer a higher ratio of adults to kids to feel safe. Kids are unpredictable, and added all up over a few hours is too much for me.

It just turns out I'm not quite ready for this, and I'd like a chance to think about it for a while.


After trying a little more of an ease-in approach (I know, you thought 4.5 hrs one day a week was "easing in", but it turns out not to be true here) I would drop this. There are plenty of homeschoolers who would agree with your rationale who would still argue "There are other ways to achieve what you are hoping to achieve."

If preschool doesn't work out, try a mother's helper until your son builds full trust, and then take your time out, which I'm sure you are desperate for and deserve. It might not happen the way you want it to.

Which leads to this:

The greatest advantage of homeschooling is the flexibility your family has to work *with* your kids by changing what isn't working. Consider this homeschooling practice by trying a couple other solutions to ease him into what you want, but then (if that doesn't work) conceding that it's not what is right for your son.
 

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I had that teary eyed, progessing to sobbing hysterically kid. I have done preschool, skipped preschool, homeschooled and public schooled. My son was that preschooler who cried at every drop off. It was so difficult. But here's the thing.. he didn't cry all day. Only at separation. At preschool, we were at a Waldorf school and the teacher would guide him away and engage him in an activity. Sometimes I would arrive early for pickup and he was always having fun and would tell me so. However.. the crying at separation for a voluntary school option felt to me unnecessary. So he didn't go back to preschool.

School was compulsory, however, and when he cried we got the school counselor involved and we worked with them and his teacher. It wasn't going to school that was an issue. It was separating from me. Once he got involved in class he had a fine time and had friends. That said, we have evaluated his options every year and some years I have homeschooled him (1st grade, 7th grade, 8th grade). He's in high school now and I can tell you that he does not cling to me and cry every day when he goes to school (he actually left without saying goodbye to me the other day and got a lecture from me about being important to say goodbye to your mom! lol).

So I was one of those moms who did have to leave a crying child at school. But the school was small and welcoming. The teachers were warm and friendly with me AND with the kids. I love the kids' elementary school. The school counselor has helped my kids through some tough times. So I think when you work closely with other adults in the situation, then it can work out for the best. I also worked with my son to help him better seperate from me. He's always been a little slow to warm up to new situations. He still is.

Oh, and for school- what helped a bit was to connect with other moms. We arranged playdates with my son and their kids so he would know more kids in the classroom. It helps when separation comes that I know he is walking into a class with his friends he plays with outside of school.
 

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Homeschooler here-I'd drop it, it sounds like he is not ready. My son at 4 would have flipped if I tried to drop him off at anything or with anybody but his grandparents/aunts (and sometimes even with them!), but now happily runs into dance class, speech therapy, etc. with no problem. He still likes to know that I'm nearby though (i.e. in the waiting room)-he's 5-1/2. My daughter was similar.

I'd wait a year and see how he is doing. Maybe try some shorter activities for now, like a drop-off library story time, dance/sports class at the Y, etc.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thank you all so much for such awesome responses! What a great help to make me feel better about what we were choosing. Last week I tried going with DS, and he started to have a little fun if I was rigĥt there with him. When he didn't see me for a split second, though, he completely lost it. The couple other moms.at the school having the same problem seemed to think "pushing through" was the right decision, but to me, it just felt like the preschool equivalent of sleep training a newborn. Yesterday we tried a new gymnastics class (with me and DD in a waiting room) and he had the time of his life and is looking forward to going back next week. Hooray! Thanks again, it was a relief to hear from other moms that I'm not a pushover!
 

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There are times to push a little, and times not to. I am not the pushing type, either, but once in a blue moon I do give a nudge or a push. But usually those are times where there is *hesitancy*, not so much fear, and my kids were old enough to tell me afterward if I called the situation right. "Pushing through" might be the right decision for other kids, but I tend to agree somewhat with the comparison with sleep training.

This is about trust, and kids have different criteria than adults. I've had difficulty in the past even with close family at that age. Trust needs to be built. You can't rationalize it in advance. In fact, though as a society we seem to praise our kids when they are open and trusting without any "trouble", I tend to think of it as strange, honestly. It doesn't make as much evolutionary sense as a child who is more particular. Hm. Something worth thinking about.

I loved my girls' gymnastics classes. It gave my anxious older daughter a very brief, very controlled environment to interact with other kids, and a limited role for another adult to bond with her. We've stuck with it for years. She's become comfortable being left for a time with scout leaders, a wonderful woman and grandmother a few houses down, her closest family and a small handful of others. She has a high need for deep trust in others.

Your son seems to be at this point acting like a normal "preschooler". For my daughter it ran deeper than age-appropriateness, but she knows herself now, she knows her limits and her challenges and she knows her strength. I think that pushing through in her case would have short-circuited that trust in herself, and I have spent my lifetime undoing my own self-doubt that I am grateful to see such self-awareness at her age.

It begins by listening, trusting, and valuing the message that your kids send you. That is also, by the way, the best foundation for homeschooling as well. The lessons that might be learned in preschool are trivial compared to this.
 

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"to me, it just felt like the preschool equivalent of sleep training a newborn."

I completely agree. Based on my dds personality we are leaning towards hs. I think the seperation fear is normal for some kids.Especially those who havent routinely attended daycare from a young age. They each have such different personalities and needs.

I despise sleep training and know Id despise making my lo go into school crying. Its so unique to each child but as a parent, I dont feel like a pushover for not sleep training (much to the pediatrician's dismay) just like i wouldnt feel like a pushover for pulling dd from preschool if it was causing her such stress.
 
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