Monday, September 29, 2008

Preschool update

KB joined preschool on Sep 10 for the MWF morning session. Last Wednesday was the first day he went in totally cheerful and played and was happy throughout. But unfortunately, I had to go to the room at the back of his classroom for some volunteer work. I told the administrator to shut the doors so he would not hear me. But the meeting took much longer than I thought it would and KG was getting upset to be bound to her stroller. I had to let her out and keep running behind her so she wouldn't trip in that place full of things. But when some woman came asking us how to go to the main office, the door was opened and KG tried to escape out. When I held her back, she let out this loud scream and threw herself on the floor crying loudly. And almost immediately, I could hear KB crying in his class room adjacent to the room we were in. That might have been the turning point towards a positive outcome and I botched it up thanks to that meeting.

Last Friday he looked sleepy when he went in. And we went to the store to get flowers for his teacher for her birthday. So somehow there was some change in schedule that morning when he went in. Also he wanted to get bagels when we were at the store - I think he went into school with the thought that he wanted to have bagel and cream cheese. After a promising day on Wednesday, we thought he would do even better on Friday. B waited for a few minutes so KB could sing a birthday song for his teacher and then KB gave her the flowers and then left for work. But KB started his tears just as B was leaving. Again, I called the office to check with them if I need to pick up KB early and they told me to please come and get him as he was crying.

Monday - Sep 29 - B dropped him as usual. Again KB started crying. B called me from work and told me it was pointless since they will anyway be calling me to tell me to pick up KB early and that I should just leave right away and get him. So I just abruptly left w/out taking a diaper bag or milk for KG. When I got there, I asked the admin staff who happened to be outside to check with the teacher if I need to get KB. She came back and told me that he was doing better and that I could just wait in the back building. I was going into the back building when KB's teacher came out of her class just to see me and tell me that he was doing much better and that he still made some noises (crying) but he was playing with puzzles with the assistant teacher etc. I was not prepared to stay on for two hours and it became difficult for me to contain KG since she was sleepy and also I didn't have her milk bottle with me. So I called the teacher after half an hour and she sent word that KB was still crying on and off but that I could come at 11.30 am and get him. I assumed that meant things were going better and I left.

I came back at 11.30 am to get KB. The director told me to wait and meet her in her office. I knew then that they were going to tell me to pull out KB from school for a month or two. I then went into class and the moment KB saw me he stopped his tears - well, not even tears - just loud noises and just went about playing with stuff in the playground. But the teacher Ms.T said to me, "I just think it's better he sort out the seperation issue at home first and then try again a month later or in January. I don't want this to be a traumatic experience for him.". The director later told me, "His crying is beginning to affect the confidence level of couple of other kids who were initially comfortable. Today two other children were crying a lot. I think it would work well for every one if he just took a break, sorted out the seperation issue at home and then came back. He has a very strong sense of self and I just think his crying is just more of an obstinate sort not so much sad crying. He just knows what he wants and he doesn't want to budge on it. It can work well in some things but work in the wrong way as well as in this case. But for now, it is best he tries to sort this out at home - to be away from mom. It' just that his crying is loud. If not, we would just let him cry it out and get used to it". (On a lighter note, when the director and me were seriously discussing this, KB went behind her chair near the window and spotted a little spider. His fascination. He immediately told her, "Ms.C, there is a spider here". She said to him "That's OK. He just likes to live there". KB says, "Can you give me a tissue, I want to get the spider". She hands him a tissue and he spots yet another one. He gets one and then turns to her and says, " I don't know where the spider ran away").

I am not in agreement with this. I feel it is not even a month since school started, they don't have a five day option, so he only goes three days a week. The problem is not so much that he is not ready for school but that the school does not have the bandwidth to engage him and distract him or even just let him cry it out the entire time for a few days until he gets used to being in school without mom around. KB has not had much opportunity to be away from me at home - when he is home with B and I go out. That probably is the root cause of all this trouble. Now we do this deliberately - every morning I go out for a walk leaving KB at home. And almost every other evening, I go out for an hour or so leaving KB with B at home. Each time, KB cries the entire time. B thinks it is all related and that the school is right in saying he needs to sort this out at home. I feel that the two can happen simultaneously and that KB was on the verge of getting used to school. Either way the choice now is not mine. The director has told me to pull him out of school for a month and come back again in Nov. I want to believe that they are sincere in doing the best for him. But I also think they are not giving him a fair chance now.

My concern with this whole thing is that if we were to go back in Jan, he would have been with us all during the holidays and there is no guarantee he won't cry again. If they cannot let him just cry it out for 5 or 6 classes in a row without my having to pick him up early, then how is he going to get used to it? When he knows mom will come if he cries? I like this school, he likes the school but if they again come back and tell me that he is loud and that I need to pick him up early, how will this sort out? It is hard to find good preschools that just feels right when you go tour them. This was one of the few where I felt the children looked really happy - it was noisy, cheerful, happy and lively. Not that the silent/calm atmosphere in a Montessori setting is bad. I in fact always felt KB would fit really well in a Montessori setting. Even now, I wonder if I made the right decision in going with a developmental preschool rather than a Montessori. He loves the Montessori materials - even last week when I went to tour a Montessori, he was like a fish in water - just pulled out the little chair, took a tray of beads and spooned them into other cups and put it back and then went on to some scooping activity, then on to checking out the live rabbit, then on to checking out the planet models they had on display. He sat in on their story time and listened eagerly. So may be a more structured environment in a Montessori would have engaged him better. I am not sure. But at this point in my local area, none of the Montessori schools have an opening. So it is not really an option until he turns four. I am just going with the hope that when he goes back to his current school either in Nov or in Jan, he will mentally make up his mind to not cry and just adapt easily.

I am not worried even if he doesn't go to school until age four. He enjoys his time with his little sister, he meets other kids every now and then and I can take him to other fun classes offered by the city. But I just feel bad that he likes this school and the teacher and he is not being given the time he needs to get used to being away from me at school. But it is what it is and we move on from here! In my old age, I am sure I will wistfully think of these days when KB needed me so badly! :)

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi

I wanted to comment in the earlier post as well about KB preschool scenario about a similar experience that i had but pulled back since i put my son in pre-school at 1.5 years and thought it may not be similar.

I wanted to chip in that my son also had a lot of separation anxiety from me (still is reluctant to part at 8 years although he will not cry much) when he started school. He started in a 5 day montessori at 1.5 years and we were given suggestion after 3 weeks to pull him out as he cried. We requested to try out for one more week and miraculously he started engaging in the class activity and eventually settled down. Again, when he moved from his toddler to the 3 year olds classroom was the same time that i went back to work after my second child. He had quite a bit of trouble adjusting which ended up in us moving to a different school. At 3 years, he had separation anxiety but eventually settled down as he had a very close friend of his in the same class which helped him settle down . His next school transition at 4.5/5 years was smooth.

The main point of me writing this comment is to let you know that there are kids who go through this and one of the main causes could be the situation of him not having had the opportunity to be away from you as you pointed out correctly. When he has so much lively interaction with you and learns a lot being with you, it kind of creates a very strong bond and trust and needs time to get used to things outside and the level of adult interaction in a group until they grow up and get exposed to more people and different levels of interactions. This scenario is exactly similar to where me and my son were. Secondly, i am not sure if you go through this. I felt I had done something wrong, not prepared him when he had so much separation anxiety issues. If you do not feel so, then that is a good thing.

Couple of things that helped at 3 years were -When i dropped him at school, i kneeled down to look into his eyes and tell him exactly when i will come to pick him up in a positive tone (not in a worried "is he going to cry today?" anxious tone). Two- since i chose a school i had researched, i resolved to myself that i have faith in the teachers to take care of him and handle the situation gently. (this was with the second school). The first school was ofcourse not willing to give a chance since they wanted to encourage high emotional independence in a 3 year old and were not willing to work out during the second transition.

(I hope i made sense).

I will remember your post's closing words - one day it will be hard to believe that they needed as so much! :-).

- Shree

the mad momma said...

noonie have your considered two hours of daycare a day? just so that he gets used to being away from you on a regular basis?

i think the school is shying away from its responsibility. but then you have no other option so no solution there.

for now - if the expense isnt an issue, do consider it.

hugs.

Maggie said...

I think it's sad that the school has suggested this - surely KB is not the first child they've encountered who's a little bit more stubborn than average?

I wonder if it's possible to persuade them to try for at least a week, especially since, as you feel he's on the brink of getting used to it...

dipali said...

This sounds most unfair. I've taught three year olds in Nursery, and most of them were no longer crying after the first week or ten days. The earlier days teachers from other classes and the help would take the kids who cried the most out into the garden/playground for a while. I feel that not going everyday is also distressing. I like MM's idea- the day care change of scene may help. All the best.

RJ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
RJ said...

I am sorry to hear that school suggested to take a break. I totally agree with Maggie, this isn't the first time they encountered kids who are bit more stubborn. Keep finding better schools for your precious.

My son started this May (for summer camp at same school - tue,wed,thu). First day I stayed in his school for more than an hour with him. He cried when I was around, he settled down in a while, then I left him when the class was in playground. Picked him up in an hour again. Being there with teachers and watching them helped me develop comfort level to leave my son with them.

You know, when he started school I was also kind of itching to call and check how's he doing but I just held back. I wanted teachers to take care of him. If something isn't right I trust them to tell me. Kids cry, everybody cries so I didn't worry. It took him almost a month to be comfortable at school. Also sending his blanket with him helped.

Another story of an Indian 1.5yr old girl at the same school. She cried for nearly a year. She would throw up crying. After that they would call her mom. Her mom picks her up and goes home. This was a routine can you believe it. Then one day teacher said to the girl - "If you throw up, I am not going to call your mom. okay" Unbelievable the little girl stopped crying.

Wish you the very best. Sorry for a long comment.

Anonymous said...

Hi,

I'm sorry that what you feared came to pass...Other options to ease KB into separating from you: do you have church-based preschools or mothers-day-out programs in your area? Our local rec. centers have day-care centers attached to them for parents to drop off kids while they work out - these are the city-owned rec centers - you could start with these and work up to a day-care or playschool.

I am a huge fan of montessori schools myself, my mother trained as a montessori teacher (Retired now) and both my kids went through 4 years of Montessori, starting regular school in first grade.
I'd get your name on the wait list for one of the montessories...with the economy going south, some parents may pull out after the Dec break, and you might have a chance.

Lastly, I am not sure this is a factor for you, and it sounds somewhat strange, but some desi kids are just not used to "white" people around them - we've seen that in the Montessori my kids' attended as well - these kids are so used to other brown-skinned people, they get all upset when faced with white teachers and mostly white classmates. Again, don't know if that factors in at all for KB.

Good luck with all you try....

M

Aryan said...

Dear noon,
Sweet heart KB is very intelligent...he will understand...in one month, keeep on telling him that he needs to go to school and try to be away from him for sometime.
Aryan still cries for half an hour when I leave him in day care. From the morning, he says no school, no day care..Every sunday we need to tell him so many times that he needs to go to day care tomm...
Why don't you try giving something of yours to KB. Like, aryan still takes my night dress and goes to day care....
Just relax, I am sure he will be cheerful and will not cry when you drop him again....Just tell them not to call you even if he cries...in that way, after somedays he will not cry....

Take care
AM

Mamma mia! Me a mamma? said...

I so agree with the way you are feeling. I don't think KB has been given enough time to get used to the situation. Also, schools need to have the pateince, time and tools to distract a crying child and to let him cry it out as well.

Your post reminded me that I have to do one about the YO's first week in Montessori as well!

Neera said...

I am feeling bad noonoo - I too think the school shied away from its responsibility. The other day when I called u, this was precisely what I wnated to tell you - stick to your guns or else change the school - this is not done in my opinion. Both the places that Vansh went to ECFE and the summer camp had provisions like Dipali mentioned - taking care of the children who were having a hard time by distracting them outside, one teacher per child so that the child at least had one person to trust and get close to. I myself saw it with Vansh being very close to that one particular teacher (physicallY close) the first few days.
I understand that at this point you might not be able to get a school of choice but just send KB at a school so that one he gets into this routine of being away from u for a while and two he starts making some friends whom he looks forward to meet on a daily basis.
Hats off to you for being so balanced and calm when I know you are disturbed. Many hugs and love :)

noon said...

Shree - appreciate your long comment. Partly it is that - he has a ton of fun at home with me and KG esp now that she follows him around like her hero and fights with him and giggles with him...and I take them to the park or some place out morning and evening. I meet with either his good friend or my neighbors kids all of whom he likes - quite often. So it is hard for him to let go of that comfort zone and be in school. Partly I think he may have enjoyed a Montessori better. He loves those activities. Each time I visited one, I see him just totally engaged. He is not yet so into painting or play dough - he will do it but beyond a few minutes he wants to do something else. He likes to sort beads, scoop macroni and transfer or count blocks etc...but problem with Montessori, they won't even be this nurturing towards a child who cries loudly - at least the ones I have toured here. They will tolerate noise only so much.
I loved this school - but I didn't think of this point - as to how equipped they are to handle kids like him who take itme to adjust...
Well - will just see what happens in Nov or Jan! :)
Thanks for your long comment again!

noon said...

MM - day care is not an option really because a)I didn't know until now that I would go any place other than this school b) any good day care wants the kids to come full days preferably or come for at least five half days. If not I will have to go the nanny route - but because of KG I can't go anywhere else leaving him with a nanny. Also most kids his age go to preschool/day care combo - not just day care. So if I drop him in a proper day care most kids would be younger.

I found a nice program today - for 3-5 yr olds - it is mainly for transitioning kids - they have all the regular preschool activities - crafts/outside play/story time/snack time etc etc - but it is a mixed age class and it so happens only 12 kids have registered and they have three teachers for it. 9 to 11 and you can register each month. Works well for me for this purpose! And I am welcome to stay on with KG there until he gets used to the place. It is 5 min from home - so I can gradually increase the time away from him. And they seem** (who knows!) more open to kids who cry...and it is one large sunny room facing the park. So am hoping a) this will keep the "school" continuity somewhat at least b)will help him transition to being away from me eventually.

Meanwhile we are continuing the home training - leaving KB behind with B while I go out every evening.

noon said...

Mags - Reading your mail made me feel better - that if only they had done what I told them to do - just put him in a difft room with someone to watch him and he will settle down - he would have really settled down. Because he is so comfortable with the school, the teachers...very confident. He is not afraid of the other kids either. He just needs to accept that I won't come no matter how much he cries. Anyway - not much I can do now - so have to just get him to be good on the day he lands there next! To the teacher's credit - she was patient and nice - I think she has not dealt with a stubborn child in a long time and one who is loud as well. And since she can't keep in a different room she feels responsible for the other kids as well...

Dipali - oh wow - I didn't know you taught nursery - wish I had known. I would have mailed you and asked you about this situation. Not that I had much choice in the matter of what the school was willing to do.
See my response to MM and Mags about day care etc.

Rj - It's the opposite here. I call them only because if not they will call me and if they don't call me they end up telling me he is disturbing the other kids by crying the whole time. So I have no real choice. They are not able to handle his loud crying or his stubborn behavior. He just sits there crying away - pauses to answer their questions but continues to cry! He would have stopped eventually if only they had given him a chance - see my response to Mags.
Thanks for your comment Rj!

noon said...

M - thanks for your comment.
My responses are all covered in my response to Mags and MM. Montessori - here the wait list is super long - for the popular ones - I registered his name Jan 07, he may get in Sep 09. And another one I toured yesdy - I didnt' even like the tone of the director much - even so - he may get in Sep 09 (I put his name in now) - but there are 65 people in the wait list! Ridiculous wait lists. I could go the the Montessori in the next town and drive 20 min - but just don't think it is wise to experiment with that and immediately change schools before he settles in the one he actually wants to go to now - he says he wants to go to his current school only!

Aryan's mom - yaar - your friend KB is good at theory - he tells me everything like a story - how he will be GOOD and wont' cry and he will do this and that and specific details of every little thing and then he goes there and promptly starts crying! :) He will do it only when he puts his mind to it!

noon said...

Mammamia - thanks! And pl do the post about his first week in Montessori - would love to read it. I wish I could get him into a good Montessori here now! One with a caring teacher! Not that I want only a Montessori - but he seems to be more engaged there.

Neera - sorry will call soon. And I wish I had taken him to a parent coop school instead of mommy and me at his school. Anyway - see my response to MM - I am hopeful that at least in this new place he will have some school feeling even if he is not going to real school and even if his current school doesn't work out I can continue taking him here for age three. Am sure soon enough he will let go of me. And then I will be the one crying for him! :)

Neera said...

read about the new school and sounds pretty good to me to serve ur purpose presently. Am very sure it'll work out for u guys soon. Much good luck to mommy and son :) And please don't say sorry :)

Mystic Margarita said...

This't is just not right for the school to be so hasty - after all, aren't they suposed to be trained to make kids feel at home?
Just read in your comment about the new place you found - I'm sure this will trun out to be a better fit.