motherhood, parenting, preK, toddler, toddlerhood

On pre-schools, separation, and that pesky heart stuck in my throat

Tomorrow is a big day. Tomorrow, Waleed starts a Reggio Emilia based program Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9-1. Not sure what to term it, nursery school? daycare? playgroup? Its described as a preschool [though he’s only 2? Isn’t everything before school pre school?] but whatever the semantics, he’s starting tomorrow.

And I am terrified.

I’ve had mixed feelings about it since we agreed to do it. About a year ago I checked out a number of preschools and when I saw the activities I thought to myself but I already do all of this with him. From water tables, and drawing, reading stories, building blocks, and make-believe opportunities, Waleed got every opportunity through me that the centers purported to provide. There was only one thing I could not give him, friendships. So I redoubled my efforts to find him friends. We joined Gymboree. I hosted playdates. We went to the library for storytime. Hung out at the local parks. And yet despite all of this, consistent playdates  [other than with his best friend Z who also has a new little sibling making our get togethers difficult these days] proved elusive. As someone who began their first day of school in kindergarten, I personally don’t believe preschool is necessary. I’m a former educator, I provide tons of opportunities for him to grow intellectually, morally, and creatively, but a toddler to play with, I cannot be and Waleed as an incredibly social child needs interaction with other kids on a consistent basis [well, not ‘needs’ like he needs air and water, but highly desirable given his extroverted nature]

Enter preschool. With a new baby, K thought the few hours of one kid to corral a few days a week might be a good thing for me, and the preschool, being practically a stone’s throw from K’s work allows him to drop off and pick up without any assistance from me. We like the school. The student-teacher ratio. The philosophy. And Waleed? When we took the tour, he ran around the center like a kid let loose in a candy store. So with K’s prodding encouragement I agreed to give one short semester a try.  

But now that it’s here, I’m anxious. Apart from when Musa was born, and his subsequent hospital stays, where Waleed was watched after by my family who he knows well and adores, he’s never been away from me. And while his teacher did a home-visit to introduce herself, I know the transition will be rough. With a newborn who we’re trying not to take out of the house given the horrible flu season, I’m not accompanying Waleed to his first day away. K will be. He’s promised to take his time and walk around with Waleed as they explore the center again. He promised to stick around to ease the transition, but at the end of the day tomorrow [and perhaps days? weeks?] will involve tears. It will involve anxiety. It will make him cry and while I know that ultimately this is probably a good experience for him, one we’re doing because we think he will ultimately enjoy it, the rough transition that is to come is already breaking my heart. 

Can you relate? Anyone put their child in preschool and have advice, perspective on the matter? Any tips to ease the transition? How long did it take for your child to adapt? Anyone ever have a child who simply never adapted? Any advice, tips, or perspective much appreciated.

14 thoughts on “On pre-schools, separation, and that pesky heart stuck in my throat”

  1. Good Luck!!!! I think it's harder on us than them. I was so terrified of putting Sarah into daycare but she thrives there. She has made friends and gained independence and loves her teacher!!! It took Sarah about three weeks to stop crying when we dropped her off and now she runs into the classroom without any problems! Pixie


  2. Hang in there. Gabriel started a Montessori “preschool” “toddler program” whatever you call it in September last year. He goes from 9-12. It was super hard at first. Lots of crying when he would go in…but he was always happy when we picked him up. It lasted about a month…and now he loves it. LOVES it. And yes, it is likely not a “needed” thing development wise…but I think it's fun for him. And I know it won't be a “break” per se for you, but it may be a welcome breather of sorts. I, unfortunately, just tend to shop and spend too much money if I happen to be off on a school day….because I drop him off and I'm all FREE TIME!!! But it may good for all of you. But I promise for the first month you will think “this just isn't right. Maybe we should wait. He's too little for this!” So hang in there 🙂


  3. I agree with Pixie – it's probably harder on the moms than on the kids. My older has been in a nursery school and/or daycare setting for 2 years now. It took her about a month to adjust at the beginning (she was 17 months at the time) and to come to the point where she walked in without any hesitation at all. Now, she basically tells me to leave and often asks for another 10 minutes when we come pick her. My younger daughter just made the transition this January at 15 months. It took her about two weeks (and even during those two weeks, we didn't have tears every single day) but she already know the place from dropping and picking her sister. Now we go into the room, a teacher comes to talk to her and she's ready to go.
    I guess the transition might be a bit harder on W because he just got a new sibling – who now gets to stay home with mom. But if he loved the center that should not be a big stumbling block.
    After the first week or so – when you should take your time to stay with him, explore with him and reassure him (IF he needs that ;-)) – I would say make goodbyes short. Make sure there's a teacher to take over or he has an activity he wants to explore and then say bye and leave. Even if there are tears.
    Remember – the tears very rarely last long. If they do, teachers will tell you. Most of the time, by the time parents are out of the building, the kid is already happily playing … while the parents are still chocking back tears.
    My older daughter was in a cooperative preschool for a while, and parents had to help out regularly. On all those days where I spent the entire morning in the class room, I very rarely saw a kid who was unhappy beyond the first 5 minutes.
    I do believe this is a great experience for a kid. And you'll have one short semester to decide if it is right for your kid 😉

    Good luck!


  4. 2 advises..

    1) Drop him and walk to car without looking back. He will cry and cry and cry. (its OK, come home). In a week, he will start loving school, teachers and friends.

    2) He will bring some URIs/fever/nasal congestion in first few weeks. Ita a norm.


  5. My W has been in daycare since he was 10 weeks old, so it's totally different. All I can say is that it will get better. I have days where he runs to the room and won't even acknowledge me when I kiss him goodbye. Other days he clings to me and refuses to let me leave. But he changes so much whenever he is introduced to a new group of kids. He learns SO much from them!


  6. I DO know about this topic. As the other said before, you need time.
    With our first crèche, it was fine in the beginning and then, towards the end, it gor horribly, horribly bad. I suspect sth happened to make him refuse to stay there anymore. But I will never find out, I guess.
    Now, the second one, which has longer hours, because by 11.30-12 pm toddlers need to eat and nap, and George naps now some 2 hs, so it is more upsetting of our routine to go pick him up at noon, this is the rationale behind the longer hours. Back to drop offs: here they do a 'familiarization' part during the first two weeks. It is usually two weeks, might take more with a more needy child.


  7. What they do is have a parent come with the child first three days, they stay for 1-2 hs. Next three days, the parent says good bye (ALWAYS say good bye, so that the child knows he is not being abandoned and that you come pick him up) and leaves the room, and stays in another room. After that they can leave the building during the next three days, but need to stay around and be ready to go immediately if need be. By the end of the two weeks, most kids are fine with staying there, know and have bonded with the teachers, and everything is fine. George loves is new crèche, it is wonderful, he learns loads, plays with children and learn from each other, and drop offs are not a nightmare anymore.
    If you can't do the familiarization thing, I found the chuck-and-bolt routine worked best, he cried less and I got away from all the heart breaking sobs faster. But do say bye and kiss him good bye.


  8. I tried finding the link in en, but I can only find it in german. And I knew I had it somewhere, gah! It is called Berliner Eingewöhnungsmodell (familiarization model), if you want to google and try your luck. 🙂


  9. I took my son to a precursor to preschool during the summer. It was called All on My Own, except it wasn't really, because after the first time, he wouldn't let me go so I would stick around in the back of the classroom while he ran back and forth from me to the play area. We did that twice a week for several weeks and then finally we did the chuck and bail routine. Tears and tears, but oddly enough it worked and by the time he went to preschool, he was all good. I always made a big deal when I returned and praised him on his artwork, etc. and called him a big boy which he loved. It will be harder on you, but have faith in your child that he will adapt. It's a great confidence booster.


  10. At 2, they need you more than they need friends. I would keep him close. Read to him often. Play with him while baby naps. The weather will get nicer soon, take him to the park. Let him bond with you and the baby…

    Have you read: ” Educating Your Child In Modern Times: Raising An Intelligent, Sovereign, & Ethical Human Being
    by John Taylor Gatto, Hamza Yusuf, Dorothy Sayers “??

    Awesome read. I highly recommend anything by Gatto and Holt. Especially with your education background, you will see a lot of it makes sense.

    Best wishes.


  11. I brought my kids to preschool at 3 yrs old – and honestly they ran into the room and never looked back – I barely got my hug goodbye! So dont fear the tears- there will probably be more of them from you than from your little man! 🙂 good luck!


  12. Thank you everyone for all your wonderful caring and thougtful advice. I normally would respond individually but I got way too backed up and wasn't able to get to the computer in time like I normally would. Your words were of great comfort and as an update he adjusted quite well actually. Not sure he needs this honestly, but he is loving it so that is of great reassurance despite the tears that are shed.


  13. Good to hear that he has adapted. And I think 2 yr olds can definitely handle a couple of hrs away from mom especially because they get social interaction without it being too tiring.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s