Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Preschool - ready or not?

KB started school last Wed. He is registered for MWF classes.

Wed - 45 min peaceful time in class. Then crying began till finish time.

Friday - Cried the entire time - 9 to 11.30 am. But teacher still felt he was much better since he did not cry loudly and he answered all her questions. And he was in a great mood all day after that and talked often about his teacher.

Weekend in between.

Monday - Was reluctant to go even when he was home. Tried to tell me that he only had school "Nalaki" (tomorrow) and that he doesn't have to go. I convinced him I would come and get him soon after story time (the last thing they do) and that he will have fun. The moment we reached school he started crying a lot. After I left him in class, he cried so much that he threw up three times and the teacher had to change his clothes twice.
She was very sweet about it - didn't complain even once. She said it was not surprising since he had had a weekend in between and Mondays are usually harder.

Today (Wednesday) - I decided I would drop him late around 9.30 am.
Until 8.30 am he kept telling me about school - how if he is good I will get him balloons etc - but suddenly when he realized it was really time to leave - he said - nalaki dhan (tomorrow) school. So we tried all tactics and finally I told him he has to go to school. But I asked him if he wanted to lie down for a bit (he was yawning - KG woke up at 6.00 am and so he woke up an hour earlier than normal) - he said yes and went to his nap bed and lay down - around 9.00 a.m., I changed KGs diaper and got ready to drop him at school. He was calm but not cheerful - he knew I was packing his back pack - he sat in the car seat - talked OK etc - when he got down he started the tears - though it didn't come easily at first. He managed to kick start the crying and then it flowed easily and the volume got louder. I took him to the bathroom and then sat him down in class and gave him a hug, told him to be good and left - the assistant teacher Ms.S whisked him off for some painting.

But he did nothing till 11.30 - he was quiet during story time - but that's it. Rest of the time he had been crying.

What made it really disappointing today was that even Ms.T (she has been teaching at this school for 23 years now - a really sweet person) seemed unsure if this would work out soon or not. She said to me, "He is not sad or upset - just mad that mom is not there with him...he is not having any fun and if there was some improvement then I would say OK. But he cried the entire time. And he is loud so I feel bad for the other kids since I have to think about them as well".

She suggested "mommy and me" classes, but that's not going to do any good. If he is not ready she said we can try again in January. I feared it shouldn't come to this - but it is what it is. I have to go with the flow now - at least thank God it is only age 3 class. Not a big deal. So many kids go straight to KG. Wait and see. As soon as I went he posed for a photo (the photographer said she waited till I came since he was crying) of the class kids...and asked the teacher if he could borrow a book (the second time he is borrowing from her) and brought some book from the shelf...he said bye to both the teachers very sweetly and told Ms.T that he will be good on Friday - she asked him if he will bring a smile - he said "yeah". Ms.T said to him "Leave your tears at home, just bring your smiles - because if you cry so much it hurts my ears and the other kids as well"...and she gave him a high five. He played for some time in the play ground on his own (which he can for even two hrs if I am somewhere in that building) while I talked to another parent and when he got into the car he told me how Ms.C (the director) was not there today and said "Phone panni kekalam (Let's call and ask) - Ms.Cindy please come to the W school". It is not any English language problem since he communicates well with the teachers in English. And he likes both the teachers. He loves the school. The only problem is my absence while he is at school.

I was feeling a little emotionally riled up thinking about what the teacher said - that he may not be ready for school yet. It is hard as a parent to just accept that especially when you see two other kids in class who are coming to school (others have been away from mom before this) for the first time and adjusting in a couple of days. It is hard not to project this on myself as some kind of failure on my part to have given him adequate exposure or time away from me.

KB is otherwise so confident when he talks to the teachers, is observant and aware of what is happening around him in school despite his crying - he tells me which book they read, which kid did what etc. I guess this is the beginning of my own growth in the process of parenting outside the warm confines and comforts of my own home. I can have expectations of things going a certain way but I have to accept things as it is and let him just be and come to terms with things at his own pace. I have to call the shots here - do I want to keep pushing it because it is generally accepted that children have a hard time initially or do I believe the teacher (I don't have a choice really - if she feels he is not ready - but I could at least request her to try for a little longer) when she says he is not ready and just wait a few months. I thought this whole process would be an emotional one for me. But I am glad that I feel a strange sense of calm despite the disappointment of such a difficult start - that if I have to wait a few more months I am OK with it. It is just age three and if he needs a slower transition into being away from me (which is clearly the only problem and not going to school itself), we will just work on it in the coming months. We are to blame too - B comes home past 8.00 pm on most days and on weekends we tend to go out as a family. So KB hardly has time away from me - I am an absolute constant in his life. So I can't expect this to be easy on him - although I guess I didn't expect it to come to this - where they may ask me to pull him out for now. Anyway - he has promised me he will be good on Friday - so there is always hope.

When KB was about 3 or 6m old (I don't remember clearly), his pediatrician wrote in his notes (which I saw a year later) "sensitive and opinionated". KB is very strong willed. While he is soft-natured in the sense of being concerned about other people, there are things he just will not budge on - no reward can make him change his mind. I had told him I would get him a new set of balloons if he was good at school today - but that clearly did not work - he knew he hadn't been good so he didn't even ask for it on our ride back from school. His doctor told me to watch for some of the infant personality traits to show up again in his adulthood - that he believes that some of those show up even later in life. I suppose this is a preview of what life at age 3, 13 or 30 will be like for me with KB!

21 comments:

S.Praveen said...

It was like revisiting my childhood, only difference being I was yelling for my dad.

He will be fine soon, he is just 3 after all. May be you could try spending your time in the school campus for a while, he might feel secure that you are around and gradually get over this.

Minka said...

ha ! you still have some hope since he said " nalaki". Mine said " nethikki".

noon said...

Hi Praveen - now B and I are planning to try a difft tactic - thinking of getting B to drop him instead of me - but who knows then he may start crying for both mom and dad! :) Yes, he is only three so am hoping when he is 3.5 at least he will be more able to be away from me...

Minka - that is funny! ;) I like her clever response! :)

ranjani.sathish said...

Dear Noon
Please don't feel disappointed or blame yourself, though I know that is the normal reaction any of us would go through.

I have always admired the fact that you manage two little kids all by yourself throughout the day. You have provided KB with a secure and loving home atmosphere for a really long time, instead of sending him off to a day care or play home when KG came along. Sometimes when I am at my wits end managing only a toddler for nearly half a day, I can imagine how much of energy would be required to keep two little ones engaged all day long. So I think you have/are doing a commendable job with both KB and KG. It might be just that KB needs a little more time to get adjusted to a pre school environment.

So don't worry, things will sort out by themselves soon !

noon said...

Ranj - thanks so much for that vote of confidence. B told me before going to bed - you are taking this better than I am - I feel more disappointed that KB is making it so hard on himself/us to go to school. Really though it is unfair to even remotely blame the poor child - he has had no opportunity to get used to being away from me - I am with him all weekdays 24/7 and weekends we all go out together or he goes out with B. NEver left with B alone at home while I go out. Somehow we didn't even think to do that more often. I feel bad about it - KG on the other hand gets so much exposure because of KB - she gets to play with him, who ever he plays with and also after we moved to this town (more central and the city offers a lot of fun classes) she comes to all the fun classes KB goes to (where the minimum age is 18m but they allow little siblings)...so she gets all that advantage. But what people see if that KB is so much more "Amma kondu" as they say while KG is so independent...makes me feel bad. He is so confident and bold in how he talks to the teachers and he is so happy at school - so it is not that he has a hard time adjusting to school environment - he doesn't know how to function w/out me in the vicinity yet...I am hopeful that with time he will get used to it..
Thanks so much though Ranj - I really really appreciate your kind comment here...

Maggie said...

Hang in there Noonie. Moppet was the same. Got used to it after 2 weeks and now loves going to school. KB will too. Just stay the course - it's hard, but it will be worth it.

RJ said...

Hi!

Honestly I am little surprised by your teachers response to wait for some time. It has been just a week. It takes an adult also longer to adjust in a new place. He is a 3yr old, never stayed without mom. But like you said she has 23yrs of experience, so I am kind of perplexed. I feel give him some more time to adjust. Talk about things he likes at school - like playground slides etc. Tell him you'll pick him up early (and do pick up earlier than the rest of the class)
I am sure he'll love going to school pretty soon.
Good Luck !!

the mad momma said...

i think what is amazing is watching the character form. you dont realise it until it hits you.....

awarded by the way.. please collect :)

Preethi said...

Noon.. some kids just have a hard time with separation.. Cheeky did too.. I think KB just needs more time and more attention from teachers. I started Cheeky with a day care first and only this year does he go to a regular school. He would cry too but the teachers gave him a lot of individual attention sometimes removing him from the classroom to help the other kids have fun.. In a few weeks Cheeky settled down . Now school is a fun thing for him! If you want to talk more about it, shoot me an email and we can talk!

Kodi's Mom said...

you've read the whole school saga from my end, so you know it took K at least a month before he stopped crying and another month before he stopped fussing and actually enjoyed going to school.the crying for that first month started from 2 hours straight and gradually improved to only 5-10 minutes.

it must be harder on KB because, he is older and he is not used to separation from you at all, he goes only 3 days a wk insetad of 5 straight days, so falling into routine will take longer. at least tahts the theory. you never know, he might completely take you by surprise by adapting to it next week.

am a little disappointed the teacher doesn'tw ant to give him more time...whatever decision you take, follow your gut, you know him best.

Anonymous said...

Hi,

I think first time comment.
I've been told that MWF schedules are the hardest on the kids...many montessoris schools prefer to have the kids come for all 5 days, with a shorter time in the beginning if needed. Takes them less time to get used to school.

I'm also surprised the teacher wants to call it quits so soon, but if the class is a mixed-age group including younger and older kids, it may truly be hard on the other kids to have one child cry - it was the case in my daughter's montessori - the pre-school class is 3-6 year olds, and most 3 year olds have only a day or two of crying before they're ready to go - one child seemed to need more time, and after a week, the other kids in class were getting affected by his constant crying and the teacher needing to pay attention to that child. I understand the parents moved the child to a day-care kind of setting instead.

Good Luck to you and the KB...it sounds like he's angry rather than afraid or sad at being away from you (and my son was/is a major amma kondu so I know *that* feeling :-) - he's 8 now!) in which case a 5 day week may actually help him come to terms with it sooner.

M

Neera said...

oh many hugs noonoo!! I hope ur husband dropping him makes a difference. Can you have one of ur friends babysit KG and u be there in KB's class just as an onlooker ..don't contribute in any way (to KB I mean) ..may be u cud help other kids ..just so he knows u r there, slip out of classroom intermittently for gradually increasing periods of time ..tell him u'll be back in 5 or 10 minutes because you have something to attend to. Tell him u shall remain in the same bldg though. And then explain to him how he did so well w/out u and u always come back. He might be just too sensitive for cold turkey?

About life for u with KB at 13, thank your stars that he'll think so much before treading on any path including the dreadful ones. Really!

K 3 said...

Hugs, noonie. I would also second Kodi's mom. KB is older and knows whats happening and so might show his displeasure for some more time, until he figures out that he has to/needs to go to school. I am sure as a parent its hard for you, but you gotta do whats best for yourself and your child.

Also, ask the teacher to keep an open mind for some more time and wait a few weeks before making a decision, abt pulling him out. It might mean another round of cries when you do put him back ...

Also, saw ur response abt ur husband trying the drop-off, might be a good idea.

keep us posted, & good luck!

Mamma mia! Me a mamma? said...

I have to share your feelings over what the teacer said. Lots of kids need more time than the '7 to 10' days slot that many people have in their heads as a limit. The thing is, once KB realises that this is to be part of his normal, daily routine from now on, the tears will stop. You hang in there noonie! And tell Mrs. T that you would still like to continue for a while. If KB is crying now, there may not be a guarantee that he'll stop by Jan.
The good thing here is that KB likes school and his teachers. Have you tried this line of logic with him :-
"KB, can you see any other mamma's there? That's because we are not allowed! This is a fun, special place only for you and your friends, and Mrs. T is there to make sure that you all have fun together!"

Good luck noonie! I am sure everything will work out smoothly!

DotThoughts said...

noon, I am surprised that the teacher said he is not ready within a weeks time. I mean this boy has never left his mom before. what did she expect? I would send him everyday instead of MWF. It made a huge difference with Chip (but he was also younger) because then we had a set routine every single day. Also try and put a picture of the teacher and the school on your fridge. I am sure you must be talking about the teacher and the school with him while he is home. Just my 2C.

noon said...

Mags - am totally willing to stay the course as long as they are willing to try it out...hoping it will settle.

Rj - I was surprised too. She is quite nice and patient actually - but I think KB is so loud and relentless that it disturbs the other kids in class as well...She said if she shows some improvement she is willing to give it time...

MM - So true...it is just such an interesting process - seeing the character form.
I should have commented in your post - but want to say - thanks so much for this award - feels really good - to be thought of as a forever friend! :)

Preethi - here they don't have any extra teacher who can take him out etc. It is a 1:6 ratio but still they don't seem to be able to take one child out of the class etc. He just has to put his mind to it himself! Thanks so much for your email...really appreciate it.

Kodi's mom - thanks for the links to those posts. Now it all depends on how reacts this coming week and how much the teacher is willing to give him his time to adapt...

M - thanks for commenting. I wish this school had a five day thing - they only have three or two day thing. So if I want five days, I have to register separately and he will have two difft teachers! Who knows - KB is just obstinate and he is so comfortable with the school - he just needs to make up his mind to not make a fuss.

Neera, K3:
Thanks for your comments...am trying the gradual process now - I was in the lounge in the next building w/in the school - he was fine for half an hour or so that way. So let's see...he has to eventually be OK with being away from me w/out any tears drop off to pick up time.

noon said...

Dottie - they don't have a five day schedule. This place only has half a day programs - no full day or extended care. Only 2.9 to 5 age groups. We have a couple of pics of his first day at school but none of the teacher. Hope to take one of his teacher too soon. It may help..

Mammamia - well - Ms.T says he is loud and the other kids are finding it hard. I am sure it is true but I thought preschools expect this in the first month or so...Anyways - am now trying a gradual process - that I wait in the parking lot and he should be calm...let's see!

Collection Of Stars said...

Noon, I think you got it absolutely right. KB has been with you 24/7 all the time and to expect him to get adjusted to being without you is going to be difficult for him. I think a week is far to less a time no? What I hear (from KT's friends moms who have just started sending their kids to play school) is that the kids take about 2 weeks to a month to get adjusted to play school.
Also, I am amazed by KB. He actually would not ask for the balloons on the way back from school?
I don't think it is a failure on any of you if KB takes time to adjust to school. You are doing an amazing job managing both the kids by yourself.

noon said...

CofS - thanks for making me feel good. I do feel bad - I should have trained him to be away from me - but at elast it is age three - so no big deal really. But his transition could have been easier.
In any case, yeah I think if he shows some improvement, his teacher will be kind enough to continue on and give it a month or two - just that he is soo loud while crying it is hard even on us, let alone the teacher.

Mama - Mia said...

awwww! hugs to you!

am sure with your support and understanding KB will do just fine!!

and like you say, he is just 3 years old! plenty of time to get used to being away from you and all that jazz!!

and no reason you should feel guilty about it!! :)

cheers!

abha

Girl Next Door (gnd) said...

I really don't think you should feel bad at all...T1 was not really clingy, but she still took about 2 weeks to get used to a home day-care...with a desi...
She cried and threw up the first day...and then slowly got better...
Of course, she was much younger... But still...every kid takes time to get used to this big change, and are sticklers to a routine... So please don't feel guilty!! And, ya the second ones have a huge advantage.
And you know what? Before long, you're going to have to wait 5 or 10 minutes before he is ready to go back home!! They can't get enof of it :)
In the meantime, hang in there... And do let us know if having B drop him off helped...