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Question of the Week - Starting School

Update below

Next Monday, the Pumpkin starts pre-school. I'm excited and nervous and everything in between. She seems excited, and she tends to handle big changes pretty well (like when we stopped nursing, moved to the big girl bed, moved into her big girl room, brought home her baby brother, etc.). But starting school is going to change her entire day, her normal routine that she's had for a year and a half with the nanny.

We are going to have to get up and ready in the mornings, drive her to the preschool and leave her there. I truly think she will thrive in such a social environment, but I am worried about how she will adjust to structure, especially on the days when she is being particularly Two-ish.

So this week's question of the week is...

How did you adjust and help your child adjust to major changes in your child's normal, day-to-day routine(s)?

This morning, we are going to visit the school again. She'll get to play a bit in the room she'll be going to be in. I will get to talk to the teacher(s) and pick up the Parents Handbook (we had a copy, but it's been lost in our having-a-new-baby stupor).

We've been talking up her starting school and pointing out who on her TV shows goes to school. We took her to the store and let her pick out a backpack over the weekend. (Of course, she picked one with Dora and Boots on it, which is against my whole minimizing the marketed material, but she kept picking that one when I offered others. Finally, I just had to let it go. We told her she could pick, and she did. I might not like it, but she really seems to love it.)

We are not adjusting her napping in any way. She still drinks about 3 ounces of milk from a bottle while the nanny (or us parents when we try--and fail) lies with her until she falls asleep. I'm of the mind set that it will be an entirely new environment, so everything can just be different starting next Monday.

What did you do to get ready for a big change like that?

And does anyone want to give me any advice for starting school? I read the comments on Ask Moxie about this same thing, but I would love any additional thoughts!

Update:
We are back from visiting her school. We stayed almost an hour, and we were outside on the playground just about the whole time. She loved the playground, and I got to chat with the teacher about what she will need to bring and how they do things. I also got to tell the teacher a little bit about her. I feel it's very important to tell/remind people that even though she is tall, physically capable and very verbal, she is still just 2. Three of the Pumpkin's cousins are a year older, and often my family and friends forget that she is a year younger and not developmentally where they are yet. It's easy to forget when you see her running around with older kids.

Which brings me to the hardest thing I think I've written yet...

The Pumpkin was off playing on one of the jungle gyms while I was talking with the teacher. I was just wrapping up what I was saying, and we were heading over to her. I noticed two boys from the older room (I think 3 but maybe 4 years old) were talking to her. Then, one slapped her hand!!!

I very calmly said, "Hey, no hitting!" The two boys moved a step or two back from her. The Pumpkin's face fell, and she started crying. I reached her and hugged her. The teacher asked what happened, and I told her one of the boys slapped at the Pumpkin. The teacher asked which one, and the boy who didn't do it said the other boy's name. The boy who had slapped her hand said it was because she was in the area where they wanted to go play. I held the Pumpkin while the teacher explained that she was just two and he shouldn't hit and he should say he was sorry. I was explaining to the Pumpkin that the boys wanted a turn to play, though we know it's not okay to hit. He said sorry. But you know, kids. Do they even get it?

Sounds like it all went okay, right? But inside I'm DYING! I was able to wait until I was home and alone in the bathroom to start crying. We weren't even there an hour! Already, she got hit by some other kid. The teacher hadn't even seen it happen because she was fixing another kid's shoe.

I know what must have happened. The boys must have told the Pumpkin to move, but she didn't get what they wanted or simply was getting ready to do it--or not do it. She takes things in and takes time to adjust to doing what other people want her to do. She generally complies when other kids ask her for something or want her to do something, because she's good about sharing and likes to make other kids happy. But those boys don't know that. They don't know that she probably didn't even understand what they were asking her to do or that they wanted her to move right away. They might have not realized that she was as young as she is. And when kids don't get what they want, many can't resist the urge to hit or bite or shove or whatever.

But that was my little girl! Sure she was fine a minute later, but I am already traumatized. How do I do this? How do I let her go off to school? She's only 2! And she is so wonderful. Will they see that? Will they all realize how special she is? How sensitive she is? How deeply she feels things? Gah!!! I know I'm still totally hormonal with the postpartum, but I don't know how to do this. I've never really had to let go of my children yet. How do I know she will be okay? How can I be okay with it?

Comments

paola said…
Well my son started when he turned 3, so I little later than Pumpkin. He was very eager to start and being very social and an extravert, we didn't have any problems. Naps will probably not be such a problem as all the kids go to sleep at the same time ( and in our case, a little later than at home),so there was no resistence. We did have a toilet set back for a month or so, but this was due to Noah's Irritable Bowel Syndrome and would have happened anywhere.

I think you have prepared Pumpkin well for the big step. You'll be surprised how well she handles it. But don't be purprised if after a month or so she suddenly doesn't want to go. This is perfectly normal and pèretty typical (Noah still doesn't want to leave the house most morning, but after some convincing is happy to go see his friends an teachers.)
zaimee said…
When we started our elder son at preschool last year he had just turned 2 (mid-september). The day that I dropped him off he was the ONLY kid who walked into the classroom without crying and didn't look back. But that' him. He's a social kid and doesn't mind being a new environment. What he didn't realize was that i would not be there and so after that he was super clingy. He only went 1 day a week which was also tough since he didn't get used to the routine. So finally in November it hit me to go and take pictures of the school and the class and his teachers and friends. Then during the week I would show him the pictures and so in addition to just talking about it i was also showing him where we would be going. Sure enough next week when we pulled into the parking lot he was excitedly saying "school".
So if you run into anything like that pictures might be a good idea. I plan on doing the same this year and take pictures when we go to orientation so that we can keep showing it to him. Plus, he's going 3 days a week and he will be 3 in a couple of weeks so I anticipate it being a little easier this year ( I hope).
Karen said…
I homeschooled for years before putting the kids in school. I cried like a baby when my 3rd grader left home. (After she left, of course.) No matter the age, it's harder on mom than it is on the kids. After a week or two everyone adjusts to the new normal and it's the way life is.
Becoming Mommy said…
We haven't started preschool yet, we're waiting another year or two. But he does go to daycare with other children twice a week and she does have "class" for them.
And he does just fine.
Do the kids hit each other? Sure. But what's important to me is how she handles it. And I like it. Whether or not they understand, she impresses upon them the RIGHT way to handle things. The reasons why can click later.
Sasha handles certain changes to his schedule without issue. Others, not so well. Primarily, if he sleeps, eats, and drinks according to the usual way he's absolutely fine. If he actually gets overtired, overhungry, or overthirsty....May God have mercy on our souls.....
Charisse said…
I think I've been stressed every time Mouse started a new situation, including yesterday when she started kindergarten (woo!). It's totally normal. And she and you will absolutely adjust. I would just expect her to be really tired for the first couple weeks, for sure.

But the thing is, she will get hit or pushed occasionally, and the teachers will sometimes miss it just as you would if you were at home with 2 kids or hit-capable age. She'll be OK. It will actually feel even worse when (as most kids do) she takes a turn being the aggressor.

I think the transition really depends on the kid--for Mouse it's always been best if I just cheerfully vamoose (this has held true from infant care to yesterday's K start) rather than hanging around; other kids are different.

And here's the thing too--she's going to get so much out of this. The social and intellectual development my girl has gotten from school is amazing. But big hugs!! Like I said, I was still freaked yesterday and it's her 4th school (infant care, toddler care, preschool, real school).
NoTimeToTalk said…
Before I was a parent, I heard a family law judge that I know say that parenting is a continual process of learning how to let go. I of course had no idea what he was talking about at the time, but now as a parent I get it. I would love to shelter my kids and never let them out to experience anything bad, but that's not life is it?
Kids need to learn how to handle themselves with other kids. If you thought that little slap was bad just wait. Girls are cruel. Girls say things that are so mean. Boys hit each other and then they are over it. Two year olds bite. My own sweet awesome daughter (whom we have always sent to daycare/preschool/and now school) once shanked some kid on the playground with a piece of bark.
Its how you deal with it and teach them - good and bad.
GG said…
Oh my gosh I feel the exact same way, i'm crying while reading your post because I have a two year old and we had a play date with a co-workers son the same age and he bit her and poked her in the eye when all she was trying to do was share her toys! I don't know how i am going to be able to let her go to school, even tho i know i have to, she is so special and sweet and smart i want everyone to recognize that and treat her like i and the rest of her family does.
Anonymous said…
Peter started at pre-school two days a week at the beginning of July. The day we visited, I watched the kids in his class calmly move from one activity to another and thought "Oh no! He will never drop one thing he enjoys to move onto another." The first few days were rough-but I think it was harder on the teachers than it was on him. He absolutely loves going-on the days he has preschool he wakes up and says "Yay! I go to XYZ today"

He is just about 6 weeks older than your Pumpkin, so my guess is that she will love it.

I feel for you about the hitting though. I have had a few mornings where I have cried my eyes out in the parking lot at work after dropping him off. I have a hard time sometimes, because I want him to learn kindness and empathy, but I also want to be sure that he is not a doormat-I am not sure how you teach that balance. He was with his cousins two weeks ago and I make him share...at one point they cornered him in a room and he was clutching his favorite blanket and stuffed toy. I helped him out and told him that there are lots of things he needs to share, but I will never make him share his blanket and dragon.

Sigh. Sorry for the long comment...

She is going to love preschool overall and carry fond memories.
cirquedubebe said…
The way the teacher handles the incident is key. Monkey is in daycare but he's had plenty of rounds with the kids there. Both being the victim and the accused. It's mainly because at this age they don't know how to express their feeling and they lash out (apparently this continues for a year or two).

If Pumpkin can hang with her cousins, then she'll probably do fine at pre-school. She just needs to warm up to it and the "culture" of being in pre-school.
Anonymous said…
Hope the first day was enjoyable!

Kate

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