Monday, October 6, 2014

Scheduling Considerations

Preschool has hit a ... snag. We missed a day of class when Tory was sick with Hand, Foot and Mouth and now something's changed. Suddenly, Tory is having a hard time separating from me, and reports back from the teacher say she's clinging to the instructor and her crying outbursts are disrupting the class.

First of all, what? Tory is three, Ms. Teacher Lady! Practically a baby, she is. I find it understandable for a 37 month old child to have trouble separating from her parent(s). Don't you? I know some kids don't have much issue separating in various child care situations, but this does seem to be an issue with Tory. This separation at school thing is all too familiar to last year. It took Tory NINE WEEKS last fall to settle into her preschool classroom and those weeks were exhausted for the both of us. Though different from last year, Tory's new teacher seems to have less patience to weather the storm. Honestly, maybe the same could be said for me.

The first three class meetings went smoothly, and now Tory's cried for me during class the last four sessions. What's changed? I'm left scratching my head over it because there's nothing new/different happening at home. Her teacher suggested I send a special toy and a picture of our family along for comfort before resorting to me staying in class with Tory full-time. I hate to sound pessimistic, but it won't help. Tory's not hugely attached to one physical object, and last year it took the love and patience of her teacher (and me staying in the classroom with her full-time for several weeks) to gradually transition Tory into separation. I get the feeling this teacher won't be so supportive. There is more structured learning in the classroom this year vs. being more play-focused last year, and I don't think the teacher has time for hand-holding when she's trying to manage so many other objectives during class.

The Thursday drop-off days are interesting. I guess you could say I'm going through a little separation anxiety of my own because I miss Tory terribly while she's at school by herself. I imagined that time being a special morning for Aden and I, but it's really not. Ha! In my grand plan, I forgot he still takes a morning nap, so I'm usually left by myself to blog or knock out a few chores around the house. Really, by the time I drop Tory off and drive back home, Aden and I only have an hour's time before we have to pack up and go pick Tory up again so it's not that much "alone" time. It's strangely quiet without my little side-kick on those mornings. I don't love it. 

Then, there's this: I'm feeling over-scheduled this fall. After a really great summer with swimming class being our only commitment, I'm missing the freedom to make impromptu trips to the zoo or visit the library. A friend asked to get together for a play date and I had to say no because we don't have a free morning on the calendar this fall. Well, technically Monday mornings are free, but I'm not giving up my one morning a week to stay in our pajamas, clean house and do laundry. We have somewhere to be by 9:00am every day and I'm left wondering why I've scheduled our days so tightly. I've been thinking about dropping music class on Fridays to free up some time, but this recent crying jag of Tory's at preschool has me thinking otherwise. What I should really drop is twice-a-week preschool. We don't need the drama. Tory has years ahead to be in a formalized school setting. Maybe she's not ready yet? I miss our unscheduled days and time to craft and bake and work on projects together. Perhaps a quieter calendar this fall would yield more time for learning at home? So many of my friends who sent their five-year-olds to kindergarten this year made me realize those quiet days at home with my little kids are fleeting.

I can't remember who told me this recently, but someone said some parents choose various paths of schooling for their children: traditional schooling, daycare, homeschooling, and even unschooling where kids are left to learn and explore in their own ways. This person said some parents choose to keep their children home together during the early years to develop a bond between siblings before the formal school years really begin. The latter resonated with me, and I immediately thought of Tory and Aden and how much those two love one another. It warms my heart the way Aden gazes at Tory with such admiration, and how Tory can't stand being away from Aden for even a minute. Aden took a particularly long nap one afternoon last week and Tory was chomping at the bit to see him. She kept checking the baby monitor every few minutes and burst into his room exclaiming, "hi buddy, hi, hi, hi!" as soon as he woke up. I like the idea of letting my kids develop a tight bond with one another while they're still home together everyday. There is no one else in life quite like a sibling, and if they've got each other's back for life they'll never be alone in this world. 

I guess this is to say I'm thinking about simplifying life around here. More freedom to be ourselves, to spend time together as a family and to just play. Andi and I discussed it, and we're going to give Tory a few more weeks to settle into the routine of school. It she's still not enjoying it, change may be in order.  


  1. That must be hard - for both of you! Here in Switzerland you must go to school when you are 4, no exceptions, and its from 9 am to 4 pm. I think that's crazy young. I miss the boys like crazy during the day and I'm the earliest one at pick up - eager to get them home! Hang in there and do what your heart says is best!

  2. I could have written a very similar post. Not necessarily the separation piece but the whole school not schooling - too much/not enough. I really believe kids learn through play and imitation - a good solid foundation is important but a foundation can look different from child to child. One child may need all the extra in classroom time while others may just need loads of hugs and snuggles at home!!! The hardest for Zach and I is comparing society piece vs our personal beliefs. I want is best for my girls - if they want to be involved in sports and activities they can decide that when they are old enough but right now I just want them to be kids and play. It is such a hard balance though - there are 8 year olds in my class who are in baseball 6 nights a week - and play tournaments for hours on end on the weekends - they won't play high school baseball if they don't start now. Such a tough balance. I am in a struggle with myself now - do we switch the girls to more of a preschool type setting or do we stay at our in-home daycare where they are loved on all day and snuggled!! Ugh. I could write about this for days, ha! I agree with Tara follow your heart and Tory's lead - she may be a kid that just needs to be at home snuggling with you - you read to her, you talk to her, she will be just fine in school!!

  3. Ugh, this is hard. I don't even know what the "right" answer would be for us. Part of me wonders if the parent/child part kind of confuses Tory - she gets you for a certain amount of time and then has to separate and then the next time she goes to school, she's completely on her own. Confusing! Allie did a very, very, VERY play-based preschool which I loved and there was no parent portion. We dropped her off and picked her up when she was done. I think we staved off any problems with that only because we had done Sunday school when she was 2 - the first couple weeks of that were rough, but I honestly think that base helped us out a lot and made 3yr. preschool easier. But, I also think it would be hard to just transition Tory to a complete drop-off at this point... and then, if she doesn't do well, I feel like she's really not set up for anything good school related in her mind. I also really agree with Jen who posted above that school is a lot for young kids, we pushed hard to have Allie in half-day kindergarten for that reason. I didn't think she needed that full day, five day a week schedule. And, the stuff they're doing in kindergarten is crazy. Yes, she's going to come out of this year WAY more prepared/educated than I was at her age... but at what cost? She (and all kids) have so many years of being in school, do we really have to push them so early? But, if we don't - are they going to be behind? I really don't know.

    I feel for you guys though and I'm sure you'll figure out whatever works best for you and for Tory! Good luck, thinking of you!

  4. I don't think there is any "right" answer. You just need to do what feels best for Tory and your family. Part of me wants to suggest waiting it out because it could just be a phase. Or she could be "testing" you to see if she gets her way if she fusses enough (3 year olds are crazy smart like that!), but the other part of me TOTALLY KNOWS what it feels like to have an overscheduled life and how nice and (relatively) calm and easy days at home are. My girls have been giving me grief about getting ready for gymnastics each week, which is so weird because they LOVE it once we are there. But I'm just NOT going to battle them on it each week. We are finishing up the session and then DONE with it. It's just not worth the struggle. And it's gymnastics, so who really cares, ha! I know it's a harder decision with preschool, but you could totally wait until she's 4, or even just until January or something, and see if she has a change in attitude toward it. Good luck and big hugs, lady!

  5. My daughters are 3.5 and 1.5 I'm home with them. All we do is ECFE together one morning a week. It's beautiful. The rest of the time is exactly what you described: play, baking, library, and, most of all, long walks that take us somewhere new.

    Exactly what you described about the sibling relationships is what has happened with my girls: playing together, making up new games, racing around the house with squeals. Of course there are hard parts, but no organized curriculum compares with the simple joys of being home all together.

    I'm definitely of the belief our nation's kids are over-scheduled, forced into so many adult-led activities at the expense of just playing and creating, and hauled around from place to place when so much of what they want is to just...BE.

    Less is more, simpler is better, and protecting a slow paced, free of care and worry childhood is our most important job. They never get it back.

  6. Yeah I could write a novel on this topic as well, really brings out all of the FEELINGS for me. ;) I agree SO MUCH with your point of view on having ample home time and sibling time and non-scheduled time.. And also so much with the views of everyone above, especially anonymous and goodness I think Jodi and I lay awake in bed at night worrying probably equally about our children. ;)

    Only you can make this decision, and whichever way you go is the RIGHT one. It does sound like maybe Tori is feeling over-scheduled, but who knows. And her teacher's reaction to the problem is very frustrating to hear, especially since I am very familiar with the program you're doing and they "claim" to be very much play-based. ECFE preschool is supposed to be school-lite. A try-out, as it is, and a way for mom and child to get used to separation and make friends and have fun and learn to operate in a little more of a "structured" environment, and grow socially! I just cannot get behind Tori's teacher's response. That is such crap. Teacher Ann would NEVER! ;) I wonder if it would help to set up a meeting with her teacher and tell her all of this that you're feeling. Try to come up with a game plan, let her know that you are not feeling supported. And you should be, because kids go through this stuff and the teacher needs to be there for her to help her with these types of struggles, which are very appropriate struggles by the way, for Tori's age.

    You know... you could ride it out until December (or just say "eff it" and drop the rest of the semester), and have a plan B for back to school come January. Go back to just ECFE with Tori again, once a week. Partial-separation, similar to last year's program. Different teacher.

    Tori and Gus both have early Sept birthdays (I think, right? Or she's late August, but very close) and that's exactly what we did the year he was 3. Then when he was 4 he went 2 days a week to a different local private christian preschool (it's wonderful, let me tell you, WONDERFUL, and if you are looking for any recommendations, I would be more than happy to give you the name of the school, and my contact there, they register for the next year's preschool in like January or February, and spots fill up super fast. Just an FYI, I know that was a shock to me at the time.)

    And now this year, the year he is 5, he's doing 3 days a week. Next year... DUN DUN DUN full day kindergarten. It all goes so fast, do what feels right for you and for your kid (they are all their own people, you know?).

    Sorry for the novel.

    1. Thanks for the comment. I'm going to shoot you a separate email because I totally appreciate your advice and words of wisdom knowing the exact environment Tory's in.

  7. Ugh! Sorry I spelled Tory's name wrong like a billion times in my comment. ;) I don't know why it just occurred to me, but it did, and I had to rectify the situation with an apology.

    1. Oh Allison, you're too sweet. Thanks for coming back. :)

  8. Catching up on comments. Hope you can find a good balance of school/home for you and Tory! Oliver missed last Wed & Fri of school and was A MESS at drop off on Monday. I am not used to that reaction from him at all (at least where school is concerned) so I can relate to how much it pulls on the heart strings. Good luck figuring things out!