The entire school year, last year, my sweet daughter was the only one to go to school. We would get to the school, and stop at her classroom door then give her a kiss and leave. Every day for months my three year old son would cry about missing his sister. When the time came for him to start school, we were so excited! He had wanted this so much, we couldn’t wait.
But then the first day of school came, and suddenly he didn’t like school anymore. He was scared, or perhaps didn’t want to do it solely because we wanted him to. I wasn’t quite sure, but I wanted to fix it. Here we are two weeks into the school year, and I think I have the solution to “I want to stay home with you!”.
First, it’s important to figure out what the problem is. Is your child being bullied, or harassed? Is he sad because he had such a wonderful weekend with you, and he’s not ready to leave? Perhaps school is simply too new and scary. Some mornings it’s because he’s hungry or tired. Especially with the younger crowd, there are hundreds of reasons why they might not want to go to school. Here are a few ways that I got through it with my three year old.
1. Take some time out of your day to be with your child. It might be hectic when you drop off and leave, and he feels abandoned, or he might be eager to tell you about his day and not get the chance. You can take this time to find out if there is something bothering them about school, whether there is some type of hardship he can’t get over himself, or whether he’s just nervous. I also love that I can take some time to talk with him and learn about his new friends. You can then use those new names as incentive to go to class in the morning. “Oh boy! We could see Grayson at school! Do you think he’ll be wearing a Batman shirt again today?” or “Maybe today you’ll go outside and play on the green turtle on the playground, are you excited?”. Knowing what gets him excited for school is a great way to encourage him to go.
2. Find out what excites him about school and bring it up on the way to school. Talk about those little favorites in the morning when he’s hesitant to get out of the car, and remind him that grown ups come back. Thank you Daniel Tiger for that tid bit. Here’s the song, we sing it four times a week!
3. Find out the schedule for the week, and talk about it. This is a lifesaver for me. Every week my kid’s teacher puts out an email about the tentative schedule for the week, so we discuss what they might do the night before, or in the car on the way. Painting is his favorite thing in the whole world, so if they’re painting he’s excited to go.
4. If your teacher doesn’t send out a schedule, get a fun calendar you can look at together with your child. You can identify stay at home days, at go to school days so they can have a good routine of what to expect.
5. Make routine cards. I’ve done this for you, you can get a copy below. We walk through the steps we need to take to get out of the house in time, as well as ensure that he’s eaten his breakfast and gone potty before we leave. With a full belly and an empty bladder, we are less likely to struggle through drop off. I recommend laminating them so he can hold them, and feel confident he has completed them.
Remember that today’s struggles aren’t always tomorrow’s struggles. Reward the victories, and forget the defeats. Try to be positive, even when you’re the one with the screaming kid in the parking lot. We have all been there.
Here is a copy of your free routine cards, complete with cute little monsters on them.
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