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<p>My DD will be 3 in February, and all the preschools around here are beginning to register in January for the fall of 2011.  I'm a SAHM and she's never been out of the care of either myself, DH or her grandma's.</p>
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<p>She's very shy and anxious in unfamiliar situations.  She takes a long time to talk to other people, and just started directly talking to the kids in her playgroup that she's known since she was 6 mo.  She's in gymnastics and does great in terms of trying things out, bravery, etc., but never talks to other kids.</p>
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<p>Anyway, I'm really torn on preschool for next year.  I don't know if I should put her in a traditional one where I drop her off and hope that she overcomes some of her fears and gains confidence in herself, or do I do a parent attended co-op where she can be with me and hope that she feels more comfortable, or just keep her home and decide what to do when she's 4? </p>
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<p>I've been mentioning preschool to her lately and every time I do she almost starts crying and says not to leave her (I really don't even know where she knows what it is).  If we didn't do preschool next year I would enroll her in another class or two just to be around other kids and have some outside experiences.  I really don't even think preschool is necessary, but I'm just concerned about her shyness and want to ease her in slowly before it's time for school.</p>
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<p>So, will she learn the social skills better with me (by either a co-op or doing other classes), or without me??</p>
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<p>Thanks so much for reading and taking time for any advise!</p>
 

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<p>I have the same situation, my daughter will be 4 however (dec 17th is her birthday) we're going to send her, and I am sad to think of her being sad for the first few days or weeks. I feel terrible about it, but I think it will be good for her. She's an only child and loves playing with other kids, but as she kids older more kids are going to preschool/pmo and it's hard to find kids...the parks are empty, mcdonalds is empty... plus I'm hoping it will help her be ready to start Kindergarten and be okay with that.... I just think it will be good for her. The school I am thinking of is from 9 till about 1:30 too which is nice, and it's only four days I plan to send her.</p>
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<p>I guess you could say we both are anxious about it :( I actually just ordered two books about school to give her for her birthday.</p>
 

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<p>Sounds very very very similar to my daughter who is now 5 but at age 3 was MUCH shyer and cautious around new situations.  We ended up keeping her home and I put her in some fun classes that she was able to choose.  She was actually 4 in Sept when we did this- at 3 she did library class and at 4 she did classes at the Y- she picked out pottery which she loved, gymnastics, swimming, and music and movement.  We didn't do them all at once, they ran for a 13 week session or something like that so it wasn't that bad but we were out there and she was trying new things she picked.  Much more relaxed and less structured but still getting used to being away from me.  Then this year she turned 5 in Sept and I was going to send her to PreK at school but we learned that she was past the date for the Universal PreK so my principal worked with us and had us put her in K a year before I wanted to- I wanted to keep her out for the extra year because of how cautious she was to new experiences and socially shy she is.  But he assured us that it would be up to us if we want to send her to K again next year or if this year we wanted to send her just half days or the full days.  He was really great to work with.  Well now 3 months into the year- she is doing FABULOUS!!!!!!!!  Actually AHEAD of where her 2 older sisters were in K at this point.  She has adjusted BEAUTIFULLY and is completely flourishing.  It definitely took a lot of anxiety issues to work through- who's going to walk her to her classroom, when she should buy her dessert in the Caf- LOL  those are the things she thinks about... But I'm happy we made the decisions with her we did.  And, I love that she stayed home right up until K. :)  Each child is different so it's good to look at the child when making these choices. :)  Good Luck Mama.</p>
 

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<p>I kept my ds home at three and will likely do the same at 4. I just don't see the benefit.</p>
 

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<p>Co-op preschool for sure!  She gets all the benefits of preschool, exploring, friends, etc and you are still there too:)</p>
 

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<p>She sounds very similar to my dd, who started preschool a couple weeks before she turned 3. I was really, really nervous about the transition. We had looked at co-ops, but hadn't gotten into any (through a lottery), so we were "stuck" with a small, nurturing play-based school that wasn't a co-op. We signed her up in February before she started in September, and I was so nervous. She has never, not once, had a problem at drop-off. She is so much more outgoing and social at school then she is around me.</p>
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<p>In retrospect, I think a coop would have been a bad idea. Sure, she would have liked to see me in the classroom at whatever intervals I would be there. But it takes her so long to warm up to people she doesn't know, it would have been very confusing to her to have an ever-changing roster of other adults in the room (the other parents). I much prefer her current set-up, where it's the same 2 teachers (and 12 kids) every day.</p>
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<p>Based on our experience, I would say find the warmest, most nurturing preschool you can find, even if it's not a coop. </p>
 

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You might try joining a homeschool co-op and offering to teach or assist in your daughter's class. My homeschool co-op runs classes for ages 3-18 and meets once per week. Multiple "activities" like gymnastics and ballet are also great experiences if you can afford them.<br><br>
Personally, I think 3 y.o. preschool is valuable as a mommy respite but not a necessity for any child. The developmental issues that are making her fearful of separation and hesitant to engage with other children are going to resolve in their own time, no matter what you guys decide to do this coming year. <img alt="thumb.gif" class="bbcode_smiley" src="http://files.mothering.com/images/smilies/thumb.gif">
 

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<p>We have had great experiences with a play-based co-op.  DD was very shy and nervous at first and I stayed for about 2 months--was the last parent in the class to go.  Since then, she's grown to love it and now looks forward to school days (she goes 3 mornings a week).  The school and teacher were very kind and patient with us as she adjusted and I can't say enough good stuff about it all.   </p>
 

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<p>I'm glad this post resurfaced - for some reason I couldn't find it.  I wanted to share my own experience with my dd, who sounds very much like your dd.  She was a VERY reserved child - didn't talk to anyone, took forever to warm up even to familiar people (like grandmas), did not interact with other children at all, and suffers from severe seperation anxiety.  So the preschool question was a biggie.  At that time, our only real activity was library hour, which she loved, but which really gave her no social outlet. </p>
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<p>For my dd, we really had to get everything right for preschool to work - the right environment, the right time of day, the right activities, and especially the right teacher. I looked at nearly a dozen schools before I found a play-based co-op.  It was absolutely the right place for my sweet, quiet child.   The teacher was so understanding, so intuitive, so caring!  She was amazing.</p>
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<p>Like another poster, I also attended with my dd for about 2 months before we were at the "drop-off-and-leave" stage.  For 3 weeks, I stayed full time.  Then the next few times, I had to leave to "take a phone call outside" for 5-10 minutes.  Then I had to return something to the library (20 min).  Then I had a quick errand to run (30 min) - you get the picture.  It was a very gentle seperation, and the teacher was 100% available to my dd while I was gone (there were also an assistant and a parent helper).</p>
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<p>Some things that helped:</p>
<p>1 - Being in the room allowed me to facilitate my dd's exploration of the available materials.  I'm sure she would have found them all eventually, but there were a lot of really fun activities tucked into the shelves that dd loved, and others overlooked.  Most of the kids liked the play kitchen area or the blocks.  DD gravitated toward puzzles and games.  On her own, she may not have had the confidence to grab a puzzle and spread out on the floor.  And she couldn't tell the teacher what she wanted to do, due to anxiety and selective mutism (poor kid).  The cool thing was, once she had found something she wanted to do, there was ALWAYS another child who wanted to do it with her. </p>
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<p>2 - Being in the room for a few weeks also allowed me to help dd with all the transitions.  Transitions are so hard for anxious kids, but once they know the drill, the routine can be very comforting.  Staying until your dd is comfortable with the day's routine can make a lot of the anxiety go away.</p>
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<p>3 - I had to be a parent helper in the class about once a month.  That time showed me which kids my dd gravitated to, and it helped me come up with conversation topics about school once I was no longer in the classroom. </p>
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<p>4 - The school had a great outdoor play policy - at the end of every day (only 2 days/week for 3yos), the kids played outside for about 15 minutes before pick-up time.  But parents were encouraged to let the kids stay a little longer and play.  Many parents would stay an extra 15-30 minutes for the "easy play date".  The kids loved it, and it gave the parents time to get to know one another.  It was also a great time to talk to the teacher if I had any questions or concerns.  Imagine - a conference twice a week if I wanted/needed it!</p>
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<p>5 - The outdoor play time also gave me a chance to set up one-on-one playdates.  Once dd was more comfortable with 2-3 of the kids, it was much easier to engage her at drop-off. </p>
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<p>I'll admit, dd didn't race to the door when it was time to leave for school.  But she also never cried at drop-off, and she genuinely enjoyed her time at school that year.  At the end of the day (well, 2 1/2 hours), she BEGGED to stay longer.  It was a fun place to be.</p>
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<p>But the big payoff came NEXT year, when dd suddenly blossomed into Miss Social Butterfly, with confidence and assurance I was sure she would never have.  Her ability to make friends astounds me to this day (1st grade now).  She is still the same reserved child, she still takes forever to warm up - BUT she makes friends easily, and I have seen her manage conflict beautifully.  I'm also seeing the selective mutism fade away, partly due to some of the coping strategies that dd's preschool teacher worked on (and the kindy teacher continued with).  I attribute dd's social growth almost completely to our fantastic preschool co-op, and especially the teacher who loved my dd enough to let her grow at her own pace.  I hope you find something like this for your child too!</p>
 

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<p>My DD was/is much like yours, even to the fact that she's never stayed with anyone but us or our parents, and even that has never been for more then a few hours. We started taking her to regular classes (started between a year & 18 mo - she just turned three a few weeks ago). We did the Little Gym, but I've also see parent/child music, yoga, and swim lessons. For over a year she was one of the more reserved children in the class. There would be kids who came in on their first/second visit and were more comfortable then she was, even after a year. But I was patient about it & never forced her beyond her comfort level, and she slowly has become so much more open and confident. For the next semester she had the option to stay at the parent/child level or move up to a class w/o me, and she absolutely 100% wants to do it alone. She is asking to go to school, and is upset that she won't be able to start until next year. Now, she's still one of the more quiet/observing types, she just doesn't get so anxious about being around other people.</p>
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<p>As far as preschool, I wouldn't worry from your DD's perspective about needing to go to school. In your position, I might try getting her accustomed to regularly being around other people (not in a pushing her sense, just putting her in controlled situations with other kids), and then think about preschool for the next year if she feels better about it. Honestly, before DD started wanting to go to school, for us we mostly were thinking preschool at four just because we didn't want her to have to go from being home all the time to full time 5 day/wk kindergarten. We figured a year of half day school would help ease her into it. Now we are planning to find a school for her for next year, a year ahead of what we had thought. And if DD had been showing this much independence last spring, we may even have tried to get her in somewhere for this year, though that probably would have been just 2 or 3 days a week.</p>
 

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Discussion Starter #11
<p>Thank you so much for the replies!  Definitely gives me a lot to think about.  It sounds like success that others have had is due to the right environment/teacher.  I'm going to consider that in my search. </p>
<p>I really appreciate the time everyone took with your stories, it's great to hear about other shy children who are blossoming now in school.</p>
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<p>Thank you!</p>
 
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