Preschool Jitters

I’m trying to decide whether to switch Sophie to another preschool. I’m trying to decide when is “good enough” not good enough?

Every morning, Sophie begs me to let her stay home from school.

Every evening, Sophie comes home with the worksheets she’s done each day, worksheets that I’m not too fond of. I would rather that she have play-based learning than worksheet learning, at this age. This school told me it was “play-based,” but what I’m seeing is free-for-all in the dirt interspersed with an hour or two of worksheet-filling-out. Sophie does like to tell me that C is for cat and cake, but these worksheets on letters are not teaching her as deeply or as joyfully as her old school did, and Sophie keeps asking me for basics that seem more important than worksheets, to me: basics like the names of the others in her class. Sophie’s not even sure of all the teacher’s names — and she really wants to know.

Even worse, on Monday, when it rained and they couldn’t spend their regular 3 hours outside, the school showed her not one but two movies. Sophie told me that Snow White was frightening and Mickey Mouse was boring. For this, I pay more than $700 a month?

Every evening, Sophie seems happy enough, but there are too many signs that she’s not truly comfortable. She comes home from preschool with sand ground deep into her shoes and her face, because they spend at least 3 hours a day playing in a sand-filled yard, and apparently there’s no one to help her get the sand and dirt off her shoes, so she’s getting blisters. She’s also getting a sunburn, no matter how much sunscreen I put on her each morning, because 3 hours outside in San Diego sun is a lot for anyone to endure, daily. Sophie also comes home with her underwear dirty, because she hasn’t yet mastered completely wiping herself every time she uses the toilet, and apparently there’s no one to help her with that, either. This might all sound normal for another kid — play is messy, after all — but Sophie is a neat freak and a perfectionist, and it makes me sad to see her so fundamentally uncomfortable.

I know we were spoiled by Sophie’s so-wonderful daycare, and I know that a new school takes adjustment, but it’s been a month and still, I’m wondering. And I’m feeling guilty every single morning when I drop Sophie off at school, when she hugs me tight and tries to never let me go.

Her teachers tell me she’s adjusting beautifully and making good friends. She IS making friends and she is a good kid, one that teachers love. I am reluctant to throw her into another new situation, when she’s only just gotten used to this one. But I can’t help feeling that the teachers don’t truly see her, don’t see her discomfort in her grimy shoes & underwear, don’t see her boredom & confusion, and most worrisome of all, don’t really want to be there themselves.

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5 responses to “Preschool Jitters

  1. mamusia2two

    That sounds just so sad 😦 I feel so bad for little Sophie, maybe you really should try a different school. I’ve never heard of videos being shown at any preschool so that completely shocks me and Snow White really is a scary movie at times, so I don’t blame her for being frightened ! Let me know if you’re really interested in other schools, I know of a few really great ones ( St. Andrews (Mila’s School), A Children’s Garden, Bethlehem Lutheran, YMCA and Kids by the Sea ).

  2. Ichigo

    I agree with mamusia2two, a different school might be best. That school sounds like they are a little overwhelmed. I remember when my littlest brother had issues at one preschool, my mother switched him out almost immediately, and while he was confused for a few days, it all worked out for the best. Sophie sounds like a very resilient little lady. πŸ™‚

    Also, the fact that there is no one to help her wipe her face and bottom is, in my eyes, unacceptable. This isn’t like they’re 12 year olds who should know better, these are 3 year olds who, while potty trained, still need assistance from time to time. I completely empathize with you frustration.

    Best of luck! πŸ™‚

  3. amysilverman

    i can see why the other commenters are urging you to ditch the school, but i so completely relate when it comes to not really knowing when good enough is good enough and all that. what if you go to a few other schools and observe — alone, without sophie? that way you don’t have to disrupt her and you can be positive (well, as positive as you can be) when you do switch, if you switch. i had a similar situation — not as many red flags, but still — with annabelle’s first pre-school situation. we wound up switching for geographic reasons and i kicked myself, realizing the school i thought was just fine was not nearly as good as the one we landed at, and i felt like i’d wasted years of her young life at a not-great school. then again, the first one was at the jewish community center, and when we left that was the end of her jewish education, so i had that to feel guilty about, too. ugh. parenthood. sorry to blog on your blog!

  4. elewinnek

    Thanks, all! I talked to the school, which reassured me that it was only one movie for only 20 minutes, and that they actually do engage in active learning beyond worksheets, and Sophie does actually know everyone’s name… The scariest part of their reassuring, though, was that they told me: “Sophie is actually well-adjusted here, playing with lots of friends. I can’t believe you’re complaining. There are many other kids who are more lost, here, whose parents ought to be complaining before you.”

    I waited for it to get better, but it’s still not great. This week, Sophie slipped off the swing, causing a half-inch bleeding gash on her elbow that NO ONE NOTICED. She’s such a sweet kid and the teachers are so burnt out that she isn’t getting the nurturing attention she needs. It seems like she’s getting shyer, more socially competitive, slightly less joyful in her learning. I’ve been calling around, and most other schools are full, but this week we signed her up for the local Montessori School, starting in January. It will be more expensive and will mean adjusting our work-schedule, but I think it will be worth it. I hope.

  5. Pingback: Switching Schools « Elaine’s blog

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